FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul writes a simple imperative: “Preach the Word.” For this year’s Revive This Nation—Southwestern’s annual effort to send students and professors to preach in churches across the country and evangelize the communities around them—97 preachers responded to that call.
From March 9-12, they collectively preached 485 sermons in 35 states. God blessed these efforts abundantly, sometimes in ways that could not be seen, other times in very tangible ways. Early reports indicate that, overall, there were 43 professions of faith, 88 rededications, 6 calls to ministry, and 19 other commitments.
Each of the 97 preachers has numerous stories to tell concerning the amazing works that God performed in their respective locations, much of which cannot be measured by the number of decisions made.
Matthew Robinson, a master’s student in biblical counseling, preached at North Hill Baptist Church in Minot, N.D. Using Colossians 4:2-3 as his prayer (“… that God would open a door for our message”), Robinson shared the Gospel before he even got off the plane.
“On the plane ride from Minneapolis to Minot,” Robinson says, “the Lord blessed me with sitting next to a man named Andy. And as we were talking, the Lord clearly opened the door for the Gospel. And as I presented the Gospel to Andy, there on the plane, he saw his need for a savior, and he repented and trusted in Christ as his Lord and Savior.”
Later on, Robinson and North Hill’s pastor went to a local coffee shop across the street from a college campus. There, they met a college student named Darlene. As they spoke with her, she told them she had a Buddhist background. She believed in reincarnation and hoped that in her future life she could “make it to heaven.”
“Again, the Lord opened the door for the Gospel,” Robinson says. “And as I walked her through Romans 6:23, and she saw that the wages of sin is death, she realized she could never earn her way to heaven. And she saw her need for Jesus Christ to die on the cross for her. So there in the coffee shop, she, as well, repented of her sin and trusted in Christ as her Lord and Savior.”
Following this, Darlene told the pastor that he should start a Bible study in the coffee shop to reach the college students across the street. Robinson says that this “lit a fire under the pastor” to start a college ministry, which the church had not had before.
Brandon Kiesling, a doctoral student at Southwestern, also had a fruitful experience as he preached at Union Hill Baptist Church in Holt Summit, Mo. Sharing his testimony in chapel on March 19, Kiesling described how God moved in the lives of three specific individuals.
The first man, Charles, is a 35-year-old trucker born and raised in a Catholic home.
On the first night of the revival, Kiesling preached from John 3 on the necessity of rebirth. At the end, he gave a raised-hand invitation, but no hands were raised.
“So I thought, ‘Man, I flopped. This is done,’” Kiesling recalled. “So I sat down, discouraged. Low and behold, in the invitation [that followed], Charles came forward and gave his life to Jesus Christ. And I tell you, I have never seen a man more excited for his newfound faith.
“And I'm going to give you a disclaimer: Don't friend somebody on Facebook who's a new Christian, because, I'm telling you, ever since that time, he's been blowing my Facebook up with Scriptures and songs. It's been amazing.”
The second man is an 18-year-old college freshman named Anthony. For his third sermon, Kiesling preached from the last half of John 3, wherein John the Baptist says that he must decrease while Jesus must increase. During the invitation, Anthony came forward and explained that God had been dealing with him for some time about a call to full-time vocational ministry. He accepted that call on that night.
The third man is the youngest of the three, an 8-year-old boy named Brayden. On the next-to-last night of the revival, Kiesling preached the story of Zacchaeus from Luke 19, which ends with Jesus’ summation of his ministry: "The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).
After Kiesling finished, the church’s pastor asked how many people in the congregation knew someone who is lost. All the people raised their hands. Kiesling noticed Brayden, who was sitting in the back, raising his hand, as well.
After the service, Kiesling went to him and asked, “Who do you know that's lost?”
“Well, that's me,” Brayden replied. “I'm lost.”
Kiesling took this opportunity to share Christ with Brayden and explain to him God’s plan for salvation.
While recounting this story in chapel, Kiesling said with tears, “And that little boy was my nephew. I got the opportunity to lead him.”
“But the great thing about it,” Kiesling explained, “is he didn't come forward that next night, because he told me, 'I want to go forward at my church with my pastor, and I want to make that decision public in my church.' He understood the importance of doing it in his local church. And so praise God, he's done that now, and my nephew is saved.”
Summarizing the sentiments of all 97 preachers, Kiesling concluded his testimony by saying that “God worked in an amazing way through Revive This Nation.”
He added, “If you're here today and you've been thinking about going to Revive This Nation, stop thinking and just do it. Next spring, give up your time. Everybody's busy; give up your time. Go preach the word. God will bless you, God will bless the congregation, and God will use you.”