Becoming an Interceding Evangelist
by Elana Shaw
While rallying up the prayer troops on the 24th of December 1990, in the bitterly cold of a typical German winter, Suzette Hattingh could have never thought that street evangelism on Christmas Eve, would alter the course of her life forever.
The idea was to bless homeless people with a small Christmas gift and prayer, but nowhere could they find the homeless. Not on the streets nor in any of the spots where they would normally gather on ice cold nights. It was as if they all vanished.
Once the team decided to split into smaller groups, Suzette heard voices and followed the noise, thinking she had found a place where the homeless sought shelter from the rain and they could finally hand out the gifts the team so lovingly prepared.
However, what she found was one of the most revolutionary and heart-breaking experiences of her life!
A shocking realisation
As Suzette and the team member who accompanied her, turned the corner, Suzette felt something cold in her back. She instantly knew that it was a gun. A thousand thoughts crossed her mind and she could not believe that this was happening twenty minutes from her home in Frankfurt! Making sure her co-worker stayed close, Suzette took a deep breath, braced herself and turned around to face a man who shouted: “What do you want?”
Suzette recalls turning as sweet as honey on the spot and answered: “Nothing that you have but you might want what I have.
“And what is that?” the man asked.
“Some Christmas gifts,” she replied. As Suzette looked around her, she realised what had just happened. She unknowingly walked right into a drug den. What she saw shocked her to the core. To her left were a few men heating up heroine in spoons and to her right she witnessed a prostitute in full action.
“Okay, then. Bring the gifts. I will walk with you,” said the man, still holding the gun against Suzette’s back. As they started walking, she heard the horrible sound of a child screaming in anguish. With a background as a registered nurse, her first instinct was to act on the emergency. She started running towards the screams. Unfortunately, the perpetrator wasn’t far behind and just as Suzette reached the boy (approximately ten years old,) who was releasing these horrific screams from his tiny body, the man pulled her back harshly and threatened: “If you want to live, you better leave this child alone.”
The heart wrenching sight before her is something that Suzette will never forget and the sound of that boy’s cry for help will stay with her for the rest of her life. Upon confronting her perpetrator with boldness about the cause of the child’s pain, she found out that the boy was injected with heroine shortly before her arrival. He was to become a child prostitute!
The question we should all ask
“I stood there in utter shock and I could not do a thing to help him. They dragged him away while he screamed and cried and, in that moment, I heard the voice of God asking me, ‘Where is the church?’” recalls Suzette.
The answer to that question was simple yet sobering. “The church” was sitting in their cosy homes around fires, singing Christmas carols and opening presents…
And just a few miles away, was a den of utter hell.
Suzette realised that she “lived her life in the prayer room” as an intercessor, trusting that God will bring revival. She would fast and pray for days on end to see breakthrough in the nations, but she never considered herself to be an evangelist or that God could use her to preach the gospel. She thought “evangelism” meant being up on a stage in a pulpit, with a microphone in your hand and blinding lights in your eyes.
Evangelism and the Great Commission
It dawned on her that “The Great Commission” as seen in Matthew 28, was just as much her job as it was Reinhard Bonnke’s. And although she was very aware that she could not preach like Pastor Bonnke, in that moment she vowed to talk about Jesus to every single person God sends over her path…
And God did send people. First just a few. Later the masses and in doing so He gave Suzette the opportunity to fulfil her promise to Him and share the gospel with thousands and thousands of people whose lives changed forever.
Ever since that dreadful night in Frankfurt, Suzette has also been teaching the balance between intercession as a lifestyle and evangelism. She is convinced that an intimate and powerful prayer life must have an outlet and cannot become an end in and of itself. “Prayer and evangelism are inseparable,” she says. “The amount of time spent in prayer should be directly proportional to the amount of time reaching out to people and vice versa.”
“Do the work of an Evangelist”
Walking in the office of an evangelist wasn’t something Suzette ever thought she would do because she was comfortable with praying behind the scenes, but that night God broke her heart for what breaks His and He has continued to do so up until this day. Suzette is a strong believer in the balances of God. She never shifted on her position as an intercessor but simply extended the passion and the call into evangelism and more to be a comprehensive representation of Christ and reach as many people as possible for His glory.