The youth group at First Baptist Church in Junction, Texas, has seen a number of salvations and changed lives after Steve Myers, a Master of Divinity student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and pastor of the church, was inspired to use what he learned in a discipleship evangelism class taught by Matt Queen, L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism (“Chair of Fire”) and associate dean of the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.
“Dr. Queen has helped me through his Mobilize to Evangelize book, which was used for a diagnostic look at where we were as a church through survey responses. Through that, we identified that the members of Junction FBC are one church with one mission, united for the Gospel. The only thing missing was the practical know-how to evangelize in our community,” said Myers.
With help from Queen, Myers conducted a six-week evangelism training which “has energized those members that attended and begun the process of making evangelism part of our DNA,” he explained.
“Steve Myers began utilizing an evangelism training that we provided, and God has set the church on fire with his and the church’s faithfulness to evangelize,” said Queen.
“The Spirit has been at work in the youth ministry before this training and what occurred is through a shared vision amongst the staff to reach the city of Junction,” Myers said.
Myers explained that just three years ago, the youth group was nothing more than a social time to play sports and games. That all changed two years ago when their new youth pastor, Ryan Jewert, came on board. Jewert made Wednesday night the primary time of worship and devotion to the Word for the students. “While we lost all the popular kids that came for the sports, we consistently had 45 kids coming each Wednesday night,” said Myers.
In the summer of 2020, about 40 kids participated in camp. Jewert’s vision to reach the youth group and his ministry to the kids the following school year resulted in 14 kids being saved during the summer of 2021, Myers said.
The kids that came to camp in 2021 and were involved in the youth group this past school year kept inviting their friends to their Wednesday night program at church.
“By the power of the Holy Spirit again, we maintained an average of around 50 kids coming to youth group each night with over 100 kids on our roll. It was amazing as we poured into these kids the truth of the Gospel that when camp came this year and we took another 45 kids,” said Myers.
In the summer of 2022, Myers and Jewert took the kids to another camp. One evening after the worship service, the pastors opened up the floor for the students to discuss the message they heard. “The Holy Spirit moved through the entire group in a way that had us all in tears,” remembered Myers. “For two hours, these kids exposed the sin in their lives and repented and confessed their sin to one another and proclaimed Christ as Lord and Savior. It was beautiful.”
Myers said the theme of the camp was about being salt and light. “For those that already were Christians, they were convicted that they were failing the message of the Gospel if they weren’t being salt and light,” he said. Out of that experience at camp, 10 kids came to faith in Jesus and 10 kids admitted they had not been salt and light in the school and they had a desire to be. Additionally, they had two kids say they were called to ministry.
When they came home from camp, they took those new believers and immediately started discipling them. Each week the students met with either Jewert or his wife.
On a Saturday in late August, Myers took the kids out for pizza and fun at Urban Air, and they also discussed the meaning of baptism. He explained, “It is your first act of obedience and your proclamation before the church that you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and that you are going to be walking out the Great Commission.”
The following day the congregation witnessed 11 youth and two adults publicly proclaiming their faith. “God has moved through these homes and the youth are beginning to bring their parents to church. We can only give all the praise and glory to Jesus,” exclaimed Myers.
Myers said he also “used the evangelism training sessions to build discussion and training for our adults as we work to build a culture of evangelism into our DNA at Junction FBC.”
Ashly Smallwood is a teenager who gave her life to Christ and was baptized during the recent baptisms. She went from thinking Christianity was just about following a bunch of rules, to understanding the full scope of what it means to be saved.
“I’ve always heard that giving yourself to the Lord is a beautiful thing. What I didn’t realize, was that finding Jesus would ultimately lead me to finding out who I am,” said Smallwood, noting she completely surrendered her life to Christ at camp. “During worship, something washed over me. Somehow, a huge burden was lifted off my chest. I felt light and alive for the first time in a long time. When I was saved alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ, it was the happiest day of my entire life. Now I never feel alone because of Christ. The Lord can save anyone no matter how broken and gone they feel.”
Myers wants to be sure everyone knows who is responsible for hearts and lives being changed at his church noting, “This is not of our own doing. All glory goes to Jesus Christ. It’s for His mission and His kingdom.”