First fruits of spring semester harvested at UTA campus

Alex Sibley

Two Southwestern Seminary evangelists were conversing with a college student, Esteban, on the campus of the University of Texas at Arlington when two of his friends, Stephanie and Belen, showed up. Though one of the evangelists, Master of Divinity student Emmanuel Escareno, initially feared this had ruined the chances of making a full Gospel presentation, the ensuing discussion proved this to be a divine appointment.

Escareno, along with fellow M.Div. student Daniel Moon, discerned in Esteban and Stephanie a sense of uncertainty about the afterlife, and the spiritual questions Escareno asked seemed especially pertinent to them. The reason, it turned out, was that just one week before, both Esteban and Stephanie had been in a car accident.

With Esteban driving and Stephanie in the passenger seat, an oncoming vehicle rammed the side of their car. Fortunately, neither was injured, and in their conversation with the evangelists, they acknowledged God’s protection in such a potentially harmful situation.

Escareno presented the Gospel, explaining the specifics of Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection, with faith in Him being the only means by which man can be saved. He asked the college students if they understood what he told them. All three said “yes.” He asked if there was any reason they should not place their faith in Jesus immediately. They said “no.” Escareno led them in a prayer of salvation, and all three became followers of Christ.

Including these three, five UTA students came to faith in Christ that day, the largest number of faith professions Southwestern’s evangelism department has ever seen there in a single day (in fact, they all took place within the span of an hour). Two teams from Southwestern evangelized that day, Jan. 27. Escareno and Moon constituted one team, while M.Div. students Ariel Lee and Dallas Smith constituted the other.

The Lord used Lee and Smith to lead one person each to Christ. The first, Edward, they encountered in the student union. Smith initiated the conversation, asking first if Edward had time to talk, then inquiring about his story. After only a minute or so, Smith abruptly said he had a tract to share with him. Edward agreed to listen, so Lee walked him through a Gospel tract, and by the end, the Spirit had brought Edward to the realization that he needs Jesus in his life. Smith proceeded to lead him in a prayer of salvation.

Afterward, Lee initiated a conversation with Leo, a Taiwanese student. Leo said his family is Buddhist but that he does not particularly understand that religion. Lee shared that he is a Christian, and when Leo said he knew nothing about Christianity, Lee inquired if he could share with him four simple points.

“I brought out my Chinese ‘Four Spiritual Laws’ booklet and shared the Gospel with him,” Lee says. “I asked which circle describes his life right now, and he chose the one with Jesus. I asked if he was already a Christian, and he said ‘no,’ but this was the one he wanted. So I showed him the prayer [of salvation] and asked if he wanted this, and he said ‘yes.’ So I led him to pray to receive Christ.”

In addition to these five saved at UTA, in that same week, an additional six people professed faith in Christ in response to the Spirit’s use of the evangelism efforts of Southwestern students and faculty. That means that, just one week into the spring semester, the angels had already celebrated the adding of 11 people into the family of God.

Matt Queen, L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism (“Chair of Fire”) at Southwestern, says, “Since fall 2013, God has blessed Southwestern’s weekday evangelism teams in many ways, including the fact that, every week we have sent out a team to evangelize, at least one person—and many times more than one person—has received Christ. Such a testimony to God’s favor sometimes makes me question before the beginning of a new semester, ‘Will God continue to let us see this trend?’

“However, we’re finding that the more consistent our weekly witness for Christ is in the community, the more consistent reports we hear of those in our community who are receiving Christ. This was the case in our spring 2016 semester’s evangelistic first fruits through Ariel and the students who accompanied him.”