‘God is still saving people,’ Scarborough College student declares
Everything was new for David Lawm during this year’s “Revive This Nation” (RTN) evangelism effort. A bachelor’s student in Scarborough College, Lawm, a first-time RTN participant, had never taken a flight by himself, nor had he ever gone out to evangelize. But while preaching at a Burmese church in Kansas City, Kansas, Lawm learned that God can use even first-timers like him to impact eternity.
Lawm was one of two dozen students to participate this year in RTN, an annual effort of The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary deploying preachers to churches across the country to lead revivals during spring break. This year, March 6-15, these preachers collectively saw numerous decisions made, including more than a dozen professions of faith.
RTN occurred before states began to implement various travel restrictions to attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“To my knowledge, no seminary or divinity school in the nation has a program like Southwestern’s RTN, where students use their spring break to preach and lead churches in revival and revitalization,” says Matt Queen, L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism at Southwestern Seminary. “This past Monday, students who participated in RTN met via ZOOM to share how God worked through them. I only wish Southern Baptists could have been a part of that online meeting to hear the amazing ways that God used their evangelistic preaching and personal witness to see sinners saved, saints refreshed, and churches strengthened.”
Lawm preached a total of four sermons, and following his second, two students tearfully gave their lives to Christ. Lawm spent much of his time in Kansas City with the church’s students, many of whom believed in God but struggled too much with doubt to fully surrender their lives to Him.
The night before preaching his final sermon, Lawm felt especially burdened for those students who were still “in darkness,” he says. So, he spent the entire night in prayer, pleading with God on behalf of these students, that God might do something miraculous in their lives.
The next morning, Lawm preached his fourth sermon, and though he extended an invitation, no one responded during the service. He did, however, invite people to speak to him after the service if they still wanted to make a decision. Following the service, 10 students came to him, and all 10 gave their lives to Christ.
“God is still saving people,” Lawm reflects. “God is still saving sinners, and He could use people like me also, who is not very good at words, if we humble ourselves and follow Jesus, follow what He commanded us.
“If we do what we have to do, what we’re told to do, I think that God can still use us.”
Master of Divinity student Thomas White, who preached in Green Bay, Wisconsin, went nearly the entire week without seeing any response to his sermons.
“Every night, I felt like I preached my heart out; I felt like the Spirit was moving, but I wouldn’t see any response,” he says.
The night before the final service, White earnestly prayed that God would save at least one soul.
“And sure enough, that night, I preached on the parable of the talents and the importance of us needing to share our faith with others … and that night, there were two people who came forward for prayer, and one person who came forward to accept Christ,” White says. “It was just amazing to see the Lord answer my prayer in that regard.”
M.Div. student Graham Griffin, preaching in Kersey, Pennsylvania, did not see any professions of faith, but the Lord blessed his ministry in other ways, he says. The pastor’s wife at the church where he preached used to sing with her parents, with her mother playing the piano. Her mother now suffers from dementia, however, and can no longer sing and play the piano simultaneously. In the absence of any additional piano players in the church, the three no longer perform together.
But after Griffin played the piano in the first service of the revival, the pastor’s wife realized that perhaps he could provide the accompaniment for her and her parents to perform later that week. Griffin did so, and the pastor’s wife and her parents sang together for the first time in years.
Afterward, the pastor’s wife tearfully hugged Griffin. He recalls her words: “Thank you for doing that, because this may be the last time I get to sing with my parents.”
Griffin says this was a “huge blessing.”
“I definitely see it as God placing me there—a pastor and musician at the same place, where I could bless them in that way,” he says.