FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – As Kevin Kennedy approached his neighbor three days before Easter 2010, he remembered that God must drag a person to hell before leading him to heaven.
“Martin Luther was of the opinion that God can’t bring you to heaven until He’s carried you to the brink of hell,” Kennedy, assistant professor of theology at Southwestern Seminary, said. “God has to bring us low so that we come to the realization that our only hope lies in Him. And only from that position is a person capable of crying out to the Lord, ‘Have mercy on me, a sinner.’”
The week before Easter, Kennedy was driving home after work, and when he pulled into his driveway, he noticed that one of his neighbors was cleaning out his garage in preparation for moving out of the area. As he waved to his neighbor, Kennedy felt a sudden compulsion to share the Gospel with him.
It was not Kennedy’s first time to witness to this neighbor. In fact, when Southwestern announced an evangelistic initiative called “100 Days of Evangelism” in 2008, Kennedy intensified his efforts to speak with all of his neighbors about Christ. During the evangelism initiative, he spent time each afternoon and on the weekends to build relationships and share the Gospel in his community.
Kennedy spoke often with this particular neighbor, who in previous conversations had claimed both to believe in God and in the spiritual power of nature—a belief that he said was fostered by his Native American heritage. Due to some personal and family problems, he had left his home for several months, and Kennedy had lost contact with him.
For this reason, Kennedy was surprised to see him at home and realized that he might not have much time to share the Gospel. He also knew that God may have been working through this man’s trials in order to bring him to Christ.
Kennedy’s neighbor immediately confessed that he felt like God was doing something in his life. He also admitted that he still believed in a nature-centered spirituality. Quoting from Philippians 2, Kennedy replied that Christ alone is worthy of worship.
“Jesus is Lord, and He doesn’t share His Lordship with anyone, including his creation,” Kennedy said. He told him that, one day, every person will bow before the Lord Jesus, whether with thanksgiving or with fear. As Kennedy explained Philippians 2 and other passages of Scripture, his neighbor never tried to change the subject. Instead, he asked questions and, upon hearing Kennedy’s answers, repeatedly said, “Man, I really needed to hear that.”
After 45 minutes of discussion, Kennedy’s neighbor prayed to receive Christ. Over the next few days, he and Kennedy spoke about the importance of baptism and joining a local church.
“I had a three day window to talk to him,” said Kennedy, who was thankful that he heeded God’s call before his neighbor had finished packing his bags to move out of the area permanently. By Easter Sunday his house was empty, and he was gone.
Southwestern Seminary is currently working to follow God’s call through a new evangelism initiative called “Taking the Hill.” Since the fall of 2009, students, faculty and staff have witnessed to those living within a one-mile radius of the seminary. To learn more about this initiative and to see how you can take part in reaching out to people on the brink of Hell, visit