John 4:39-42 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. 42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
In John 4, Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman who comes to a well for a drink. The woman comes to the well at noon, which is when women came to draw water in Jesus' day. In a bold move Jesus, a Jew, asked the woman for a drink. Then a conversation ensues about the difference between physical thirst and spiritual thirst. Jesus uses the occasion to talk about "living water" which will quench her thirst in a new way. To illustrate the point, Jesus points out her habit of going from husband to husband more than once. Jesus shows how she is trying to get her spiritual needs met through relationships with men.
The woman realizes he is a prophet and asks him a question that was contentious between the Samaritans The Samaritans were Jews who had intermarried with Gentiles after the exile. The issue was where is the true place of worship. Since the nations were divided, the Jewish temple was built in Jerusalem by King Solomon. Because Jerusalem was the place prophesied about where the Messiah would rule, it had particular importance. But Jesus separates the physical place of worship from the spiritual place of worship. This again is inviting the Samaritan women to the living water which sprung forth from the living Spirit.
Importantly though, we see that this encounter with Jesus changed the Samaritan woman's life. And she went to her village and shared her testimony. This led many people to want to check Jesus out. When her friends found Jesus, they implored him to stay with them, which he did for two days. Then they say, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really the Savior of the world."
This was a big movement of the gospel away from a primarily Jewish base north into Samaria. And it all happened as a woman encountered Jesus personally, and then shared her testimony with her friends. Her testimony inspired others to find Jesus, and then they discovered and heard for themselves that Jesus was the Messiah. The common thread is that they all had a personal encounter with Jesus, which led them to believe in Him, but it all started with a woman who Jesus reached out in love and accepted this woman unconditionally. Although she was a sinner, he invited her to drink of the living water.
Evangelism flows out of a personal encounter Jesus who brings us into an encounter with the living water of the Gospel. And when we experience this life giving, thirst quenching living water, we cannot help but share it with others. Evangelism isn't a program, it is one person experiencing the living water through Jesus Christ and sharing it with others. This was Jesus' plan with his disciples, and then they lived it out and shared it with others. This is the only real evangelism strategy the early church ever had. And guess, what it worked!