Students partner with local churches to promote evangelism, discipleship
Though Southwestern’s “Going the Second Mile” evangelism program does not officially continue during the summer months, last summer, a group of seven students got together every Friday and evangelized in Rosemont Park, just down the street from the seminary campus. As they shared the Gospel with the lost and even saw people profess faith in Christ, they realized that following up with those who make decisions is relatively difficult. Though they tried to connect these people to churches nearby, the students were often unable to determine if these people were being properly discipled.
In addition, the students realized that several churches in close proximity to the seminary, for one reason or another, lacked strong evangelism programs and would likely accept assistance in that area should it be offered. With both of these factors in mind, the students prayed, asking God for direction. His answer was for them to partner with these local churches in order to evangelize the communities around them and connect those whom they evangelize directly to the church body in order to ensure that they are properly discipled.
“We, as a group, partner with the local churches because we have a burden for the lost,” explains Master of Divinity student Joy Arulogun. “And we believe that partnering with churches by training church members in intentional personal evangelism is a great way for us and the churches to fulfill the Great Commission as we work together reaching the lost in the neighborhood for Christ.”
Throughout the fall semester, the students prayed, sought counsel from Southwestern professors, and contacted local churches about partnering with them in evangelism. Professors Mike Morris, Matt Queen and Steve Lee each provided input in the students’ mission.
“A lot of the professors have their hands in this,” says M.Div. student Daniel Moon. “They gave us some directions and told us that we are on the right track. They encouraged us to go forward.”
“They have been a huge help and a huge asset to us and a great encouragement to us, as well, because we want to do everything to spread His Kingdom,” Emmanuel Escareno, another M.Div. student, adds. “That’s why we are doing this—because we have a passion to see the lost reached.”
Following the advice of these professors, Bachelor of Arts student Jong Lee reached out to local pastors and inquired if she and her fellow Southwesterners could evangelize with the members of their churches. Stadium Drive Baptist Church and Eagle’s Nest Missionary Baptist Church were the first to respond. So, over the past nine weeks, every Friday beginning at 3:30, the Southwesterners have evangelized alongside the members of these churches in their respective neighborhoods.
“By partnering with the church, we can see the church discipling those who accept Christ,” says B.A. student Chan Young Lee. “We go door to door, and then we connect them right away to that church, and the church members will be there as well.”
“People are actually in a place where they want to go to church,” Lee continues, “but they’re kind of afraid to go to church because when they go to church, they feel like they have no one they know there and they think they’ll be left out. So we are in the process of getting the church involved and bringing people together.”
Moon affirms, “Whenever we go out, we always meet someone who really needs to meet us.” One day, for example, they knocked on the door of an accountant. This accountant was busy and said she did not have time to talk, but before the evangelists left, they asked how they could pray for her.
“That question really just changed her,” Moon says. “She just unloaded all these different prayer requests—all these things like her friend’s cancer and work and everything. She invited [the evangelists] into her house, and they started praying and she was crying and they shared the Gospel.”
“Every time, there are people who are waiting for someone to ask them about their life,” Moon says. “They are waiting to unload things in their heart; all we have to do is just go and ask.”
On a separate occasion, Arulogun and Jong Lee met a Hispanic couple in the neighborhood surrounding Eagle’s Nest. As they tried to witness to them, the Spanish-speaking couple could only respond with, “No English.”
“We felt sad and helpless,” Arulogun says, “but as we turned to leave, the wife waved to us to wait, and she ran inside the house. So we waited and wondered what she was going to bring for us. She appeared at the door with her teenage son, who happens to be bilingual. We almost screamed for joy!”
“He became our interpreter,” Arulogun continues, “and God did a wondrous thing that day that blew our minds. At the end of the Gospel presentation, they all received Christ! What an awesome God we serve!”
The group also rejoiced when a member of Stadium Drive Baptist Church had a conversation—also in Spanish—with a neighbor, Ava, that resulted in Ava accepting Christ as her Lord and Savior. “That’s what we want to see: the church taking ownership and evangelizing, because we’re not always going to be there,” Escareno says. “We want them to take ownership and say, ‘This is our community; we want to share the Gospel.’ Because the power is in the Gospel, and so that’s how we want to encourage the church: to reach their community with the powerful message of Jesus Christ.”
Of these students’ work with local churches, Associate Professor of Missions Mike Morris says, “It’s a great development. We didn’t require them to do this; it was all voluntary on their part—they took the initiative. That’s exactly what we want to see. They’re kind of thinking outside the box. They saw a need, and they responded to it. So I think it’s a very healthy thing.”
More churches have since reached out to the Southwesterners for assistance with their evangelism programs, and so the students invite their fellow Southwesterners to join them in meeting this need. Beyond fulfilling the Great Commission, assisting local churches, and reaching and discipling new believers, the students cite a key motivation: “We love God,” explains Jong Lee. “That’s why we do what He wants us to do.”
To learn how you can be involved with this and Southwestern’s other evangelism efforts, visit swbts.edu/everydayevangelism.