FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Evangelism has been a component of Southwestern’s annual Oxford Study Tour since Malcolm Yarnell, professor of systematic theology, began directing the program in 2003.
“The United Kingdom is part of post-Christian Western Europe,” Yarnell says, “so the descendants of the very people who once gave us their faith are now in sore need of hearing the eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed to them in a loving, compelling manner.”
During this year’s tour, July 7-24, more than 70 people from Southwestern and Southeastern Seminaries shared the Gospel across the United Kingdom. More than an opportunity to visit sites significant to Christian and Baptist history, this year’s tour allowed conversations to be had, seeds to be planted, and four professions of faith.
“Every year,” Yarnell says, “we are reminded during our sojourns through Northamptonshire, where the modern mission movement that has shaped our own evangelistic passion began with William Carey and Andrew Fuller, and through London, where much of our evangelical Baptist faith was first worked out in the 17th century, that evangelism is a non-negotiable necessity in Baptist life.”
Brad Patterson, a Master of Divinity student at Southwestern, had a successful evangelistic encounter with a man named Austuk.
Meeting at a bus stop, Patterson asked Austuk if anyone had ever shared with him the love of God. Austuk said no. Surprised, Patterson asked if anyone had even told him about God. Again, Austuk’s response was no.
Realizing the door was open, Patterson walked Austuk through a Gospel tract and then invited him to respond by confessing Jesus as his Lord. At this point, Patterson doubted that Austuk fully understood what they had discussed, but, to Patterson’s relief, Austuk said that he wanted to make a decision. Patterson then led him in prayer.
“My doubt still lingered,” Patterson says, “but upon looking up from the prayer, Austuk jumped up with a big smile on his face and hugged me and shook my hand—not once, but twice!”
Patterson took this as confirmation of Austuk’s spiritual rebirth, and now Patterson prays that God will continue to lead Austuk into a life of obedience.
Whit Kirkbright*, also a Southwestern M.Div. student, had a similar divine appointment to share the Gospel.
At the top of Arthur’s Seat, the main peak of a group of hills in Edinburgh, Scotland, Kirkbright met an Indian man named Ankit. A former journeyman with experience in India, Kirkbright engaged Ankit in Hindi. Because Ankit had never heard the Gospel, Kirkbright shared with him the story of Jesus.
“He joined us on the walk down the mountain,” Kirkbright says, “and we discussed why living for the good of humanity is not enough, why the existence of good and evil speaks to the existence of a Creator, and the need to respond to what God has done for us by following Him and living for His glory. I told Ankit it was no coincidence that we were both on Arthur’s Seat that night.”
Although Ankit did not make a decision, he and Kirkbright exchanged email addresses, and the two have continued their discussion in that form.
“This conversation,” Kirkbright concludes, “showed the sovereignty of God in allowing a guy from central India and a guy from the U.S. who happens to speak Hindi to meet on a mountaintop in Scotland.”
*name changed to protect future mission work