Leader accepts Christ during church camping weekend
During an annual camping weekend with his church’s Royal Ambassadors group in Arkansas, Master of Arts student Tony Peterman’s primary focus was sharing the Gospel with the young campers through lessons and camp crafts. Peterman had assumed that each of his fellow leaders were Christians, but it would turn out to be an unbelieving leader who ultimately heard the message of the Gospel, was convicted of his sin, and surrendered his life to Christ due to Peterman’s witness.
Royal Ambassadors is a missions discipleship organization for boys in first through sixth grade. On this particular weekend, while Peterman was overseeing a group of campers as they practiced their rope skills, Mike, the campers’ small group leader, engaged Peterman in conversation and shared some of what was going on in his life. Peterman initially perceived their discussion as “shooting the breeze” before the next event, but a later conversation made Peterman begin to think about Mike’s story.
Following a time of worship that evening, Mike talked to Peterman again, sharing more about the hardships in his life. As he did so, Peterman sensed in Mike a conviction of sin.
Believing Mike to be a Christian, Peterman shared his testimony with him in hopes of offering him encouragement. Mike did the same, but as he shared, Peterman realized that his testimony was a story of how he arrived at this point in his life rather than one of a personal encounter with Christ.
Proceeding now with the assumption that Mike may not be a Christian, Peterman asked some clarifying questions. Mike’s responses indicated his belief that he would go to heaven and that he was generally a good person. In light of such unbiblical thinking, Peterman decided to share the Gospel with him.
“I confronted him with the fact that, based on his own statements, he was not in a right relationship with Christ,” Peterman says. “I asked if he agreed, and he did.”
Peterman explained what it means to be saved, citing many of the 57 verses he is memorizing in his online contemporary evangelism class at Southwestern in order to illustrate the Gospel message. “I am continually amazed at how God uses Scripture that we have committed to memory or are in the process of committing to memory in such times,” Peterman reflects.
To gauge Mike’s understanding of what he had just heard, Peterman asked what he wanted God to do. Mike expressed his desire for God to save him, to be forgiven of his sins, and to make Christ Lord of his life.
“At this time, I asked my son [Anthony] to join us, as it was an opportunity for him to join in what God had been doing,” Peterman says. “I told Mike I wanted him to tell Christ what he just told me, and when he was done, I would pray for him and allow Anthony to if he desired. Mike prayed, and we prayed.”
Understanding the importance of following up with new believers, Peterman proceeded to counsel Mike on his next steps as a new Christian. He encouraged Mike to tell his son, camp group and pastor about his salvation and to make it public through believer’s baptism when he returned home.
In addition to providing him with a tract for new believers, a New Testament Bible, and his contact information, Peterman says he hopes to either disciple Mike himself or to connect him with someone in his local church.
In a written report of Mike’s salvation, Matt Queen, L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism (“Chair of Fire”), took note of the way in which Peterman was intentional in the follow-up with Mike’s salvation in terms of baptism and discipleship. “Thank God for our students and the way God uses them! Thank those of you who teach at Southwestern, as our students are ‘getting it’ and also applying it.”
Reflecting on the weekend and Mike’s response to the Gospel, Peterman says he is in awe of all that happened in such a short period of time. “I am humbled that God allowed me to be a part of this. I am reminded as I consider the activities of the day that there were many before me who sowed and watered; I was just there to see the harvest.”