Gospel-sower’s passion heightened by week of evangelistic emphasis
Bachelor of Arts student Marla Rasberry was already a passionate evangelist, but after participating in Crossover, an evangelistic push that took place in Bexley, Ohio, prior to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Columbus, June 8-13, her zeal for reaching the lost with the Gospel has reached new heights. Reflecting on the week, she says, “It changed my life because it ignited that passion even more so that [now] I’m not going to let anything hinder me.”
Although Rasberry did not lead anyone to the Lord herself, she nevertheless remained faithful in starting conversations and presenting the Gospel. “The Lord allowed me to break down barriers so that somebody else can come along and water that seed and reap the harvest,” she says. “It was hard for me, because I wanted to be the one to reap the harvest, but He had me be a sower.”
Such sowing will likely prove significant, for Rasberry had numerous encounters with people whom others might try to avoid. She recalls, “I think the Lord gave me heavenly boldness—even more boldness than I had before—because He knew where we were going.”
One place to which she and her teammates went was a poverty-stricken area in Bexley. There, they came across two men who appeared to be engaging in illegal activity on a street corner.
“You could tell it was going to be rocky ground [for the Gospel seed],” Rasberry says of the area. “But I told my teammates, ‘I’m not scared.’ When God goes before us, He prepares the way, and we had that anointing and covering of Him protecting us. We’re in His will; we’re doing what He’s called us to do. So I went to these two guys.”
Rasberry approached the two men with outstretched arm, intending to shake their hands. As the men greeted her with furrowed eyebrows, Rasberry asked their names. After they introduced themselves, Rasberry invited them to a block party taking place that weekend, hosted by a local church with which Southwestern was partnering. The men politely refused her invitation and then moved away. When Rasberry returned to her teammates, they nervously pointed out that she probably just broke up a drug deal.
“But I wasn’t focused on that,” Rasberry says. “I was just seeing people who may not have known Christ.”
Later, Rasberry relied on her “heavenly boldness” again when the Holy Spirit told her to give her Bible to a mute homeless man at a bus stop. Connecting with him over the fact that she, too, had speech problems in her childhood, Rasberry recognized the situation as a God-appointed opportunity for her to show sympathy to someone who likely had received very little in recent years.
“When we started to learn about him, we learned that he’d been to church, but nobody really connected with him,” Rasberry says. “The Lord impressed on my heart to give him my Bible. He grabbed the Bible with tears in his eyes; he was just moved.”
Although she did not initially want to give him her Bible (her first reaction when the thought arose was, “But that’s my Bible!”), she admits it was “awesome” to see his reaction to being presented with such a gift. She also knew she had done what God asked her to do.
The team proceeded to give the man a bus ticket and then bought him a meal. After that, they each prayed for him and gave him a hug. The man was reticent of being touched at first, as he was aware of his uncleanness, but as each person proceeded to give him a hug, his countenance changed.
“We wanted to show the love of Christ to him, because you could sense that what he wanted was for people to care for him; for people to reach out,” Rasberry says. “Through that moment, the Lord had me realize that, because of my situation of not being able to speak [in my childhood], I was able to understand a guy who couldn’t even talk. That was probably the one [experience from Crossover] that impacted me the most.”
These encounters, along with numerous others, prompted Rasberry to continue evangelizing when she returned home. Although Southwestern’s “Going the Second Mile” effort does not officially take place over the summer, on June 23, Rasberry and fellow Southwestern students engaged in three Gospel conversations near campus, one of which resulted in a profession of faith. Rasberry encourages her fellow Southwesterners to boldly evangelize wherever God has them, be it in Bexley, Ohio, or in Fort Worth, Texas.
“All the people who walk around campus … those are opportunities right there,” she says. “It’s just a matter of stepping out of your comfort zone.”