Elliott Martin, BJU Alumnus
This summer hasn’t been the easiest summer for our outreach efforts at my church in Detroit. We were in the middle of trying a new evangelistic Bible study when everything started getting cancelled in March. Pastors and professors wrote the studies. Ladies at the church volunteered to bring food. Church members invited lost friends. A surprising amount of new faces showed up. Then, they couldn’t come back because our church stopped gathering together.
After that, we thought we could engage the community by bringing sanitation kits to each house in our neighborhood. That way we could make contact with the lost in our community, demonstrate love for neighbor, and seek opportunities to share the gospel. We calculated the cost, drafted a proposal, found the supplies, started writing a tract to include in each kit. Then we got hit with a stay-at-home order.
Eventually, for our Sunday morning service, our church started meeting in our parking lot and inside with limited, social-distanced seating. But the question remained—how could we be well-known in our community as a place that takes God and His Word seriously and is marked by Christ-like love while communicating the gospel to the lost correctly, clearly, and consistently?
In May, our outreach pastor wrote some articles entitled “Pandemic Evangelism” to try to equip others during “these unprecedented times.” Some people in our church made their best efforts to call lost friends to check in on how they were doing. Some found that people were more willing to talk because of being shaken up by everything going on. Others found that some of their friends had dropped off the face of the earth. Last month, we tried door-to-door evangelism with our Spread the Word interns. Some of them were met with coronavirus-related resistance, but, for the most part, it was profitable.
This month, we were supposed to have Fall Fest, one of our biggest church-wide outreaches of the year. Last year, hundreds of people came. We had a straw maze, corn pit, hayride, cider, and donuts. Many church members connected with people from the community. Many lost people heard the gospel or were invited to Christianity Explored. This year--cancelled.
But despite the discouragement of things getting cancelled, the annoyance of wearing a mask, and the uncertainty of whether someone will act like a normal pre-2020 human being or spray you with hand sanitizer and run away accusing you of not caring about people’s health when you approach them, there really have been good opportunities for evangelism this year.
My favorite is one-to-one Bible reading. This is how I’ve seen redemptive relationships most regularly built. Before Covid, I met with individuals throughout the week to read the Bible together at restaurants, coffeeshops, or my house. After Covid, I meet with people outside, at parks, or on Zoom. The location may change, but coronavirus can’t stop this outreach.
It’s pretty simple but very effective (and fun). When I meet a lost person, I ask them if they have ever read the Bible? If they say no, I ask how they come up with informed opinions about God, life, or truth without reading the Bible, which is the #1 bestseller in the world that claims to be written by God, and invite them to read it with me. If they say they’ve read parts of the Bible, I ask how they come up with informed opinions about God, life, or truth without reading the whole Bible and invite them to read it with me. If they say they have read the whole Bible, I say, “We should read the Bible together then! I love reading the Bible with people! You will have insights that help me understand things I didn’t understand, and I will have insights that help you understand things you didn’t understand.”
One example began the beginning of February. A man named Nick visited Inter-City. I introduced myself, got his phone number, and invited him to study the Bible with me. Three weeks later, he accepted the invitation, and we met at a library. He had recently started reading the Bible himself for the first time, so we read the next chapter he was going to read together. It was 2 Kings 20. Soon, I recommended we read Mark. We would read a passage, ask each other questions, and I’d try to explain concepts like Jesus coming for those who know they are sick, not those who think they are healthy. Over the next 8 weeks, we read through a portion of Mark each week. After reading Mark, we went through 1 John. We are reading Ephesians now. It has been amazing to see Nick’s eyes open as God gave him understanding. Nick went from believing that he wasn’t a bad sinner and not knowing clearly who Jesus was, to saying he wants to follow Jesus because obviously he is the only one who can save!
Coronavirus can’t stop this. God’s Word will powerfully accomplish his purpose whether it’s heard in a church auditorium or over a Zoom call. That’s why regular exposure to the Bible is so important for evangelism. Who could you invite to read the Bible with you? If this kind of redemptive relationship building seems too difficult for you, check out David Helm’s book One-to-One Bible Reading: A Simple Guide for Every Christian, or try reading the Bible with a believing friend first and commit to praying for each other when you try reading the Bible with a lost person. You could also use a booklet that helps you walk through texts of Scripture like Christianity Explored (which now has a free online version for those who can’t meet in person), Uncovering the Life of Jesus by Rebecca Manley Pippert, The God Who Saves by Mark Gilbert, or You, Me, and the Bible by Tony Payne. Anyone can do this. And it can be done any time, even in a pandemic.
Drew Williquette, Children's Pastor at First Baptist Church (Glen Este, OH)
I look back at the last few months in awe of where God has taken us.
It was just a few months ago that I was a senior at Bob Jones University. I was working on finishing a degree in Bible and trying to prepare for whatever was after college.
On top of that, I was planning to get married, serving in a local church and in a student leadership position on campus. I was completely overwhelmed but excited at the same time. I knew I would be walking across the graduation stage soon and taking the next step into the future. What I knew then but didn’t always see was that God was preparing me through everything I was doing at BJU for what I’m doing today.
Every major experience I was involved in during my time at BJU—whether it was society sports, leadership positions on campus, dorm relationships, or church involvement—were all crucial in shaping me to do everything that I do now.
So, what do I do now and how do those experiences shaped me?
Simply put, the mindset which was formed while attending BJU has shaped my ministry perspective in so many ways. The emphasis that was put on hard work, perseverance, and most importantly a careful understanding of what the Bible says and how to live it out are things that I learned the most clearly during my time at Bob Jones that I’ll take with me forever.
I learned these and these taught me. I understood these because they were taught to me in classrooms, and I understood these because they were ingrained to me through experiences during my four years of college. Although it was extremely difficult at times, I wouldn’t trade any of it.
Today I have the privilege of serving as children’s pastor at First Baptist Church of Glen Este, Ohio. It has been an incredible journey of God’s grace in bringing my wife and I here and giving us an opportunity to serve parents and 3 to 12-year-old kids. We spend most of our days now planning activities for kids, prepping Sunday school or junior church lessons, holding meetings with our children’s ministry workers, and communicating the direction of our children’s ministry to parents.
Again, it is all the Lord’s working through those situations so glory to Him, but I can’t help but be very thankful for my time in school and how God used every situation to shape my life and prepare me for my calling into full-time ministry.
My challenge to you—freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and even seniors—is to never give up. We should always be growing, always be learning and looking for ways to improve for the glory of God and to be used by Him in whatever way possible. Never give up! Persevere through the difficult times in college because there will be blessings down the road, but also remember that we’ll never “arrive” until we get to heaven.
Just because I have had the opportunity to go through college and now get to serve God in full-time ministry at a local church does not mean I have arrived. It just means I need to work even more to learn and grow in this position that God has given to me. He has given this position to me as a steward for His glory and learn how to better serve Him and others.
What a privilege!
One thing that drives me is to remember that whatever I do and whatever happens, I must do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God”. It is this verse that drives me in ministry, and it should drive every Christian as they seek to find and do the will of God for their lives—as they seek to do what God has specifically given them to do.
Drew Williquette is the children’s pastor at First Baptist Church of Glen Este, Ohio. He has served in this capacity since June of 2019. He and his wife Jenna love serving the parents and children at First Baptist. You can read about their children’s ministry through the blog “Kids Korner” at http://fbcge.org/kids-korner/.
Pastor Joe Fant, Pastor at Community Baptist Church in South Bend, IN
Summer is just around the corner! For most of us, the word summer is synonymous with vacation, sleeping in (finally!), extra time hanging out with friends, and other activities that the school year’s schedule limits. For many, summer means working at a camp, going on a mission trip, or doing a required internship. Sadly, for some Christian college students, the word summer is associated with the reality of spiritual failure, lack of accountability, and reduced time in the Word, in prayer, and in church life.
As you head out for the summer or make plans for this summer, I would encourage you to keep three things in mind:
Stay in the Word!
It sounds like a basic given for any Christian, but this part of your life often gets thrown out first. You must plan effectively and be intentional if you want to keep your relationship with God vibrant throughout the summer months. Take a vacation; just don’t take a vacation from God. Sleep in; just remember to spend time developing your relationship with your Father. Use a little of the extra time that you have to keep your relationship with God thriving. Cleanse your way this summer by paying diligent attention to the truths of the Word and applying them to your life (Ps. 119:9). You are going to spend time developing and deepening relationships with friends and family this summer. The God of the universe wants to deepen His relationship with you. Give Him the time He deserves.
This summer, look for areas to serve. Just because your personal responsibility of school is on break does not mean that Kingdom work takes a break! Plug in and help with the VBS at your church. Teach a Sunday School class. Help your youth pastor with the teens. Seek out godly leaders in your church and ask them to mentor you. Make it a priority to be a blessing to your pastor by asking him how you can pray for him. Guys, maybe ask to meet your pastor for lunch every couple of weeks to just talk and pray. Girls, seek to do the same with your pastor’s wife. This next suggestion may sound silly but try to establish an exercise routine—bodily exercise profits a little and reminds us that spiritual exercise profits for eternity (I Tim. 4:8). Stay active in your church attendance. Every one of us needs to gather together with our church family on a regular basis for worship, spiritual accountably, discipleship, and fellowship. Don’t neglect gathering with the body of Christ. You need them and they need you.
In my years of working with college students, I found that the hardest time for young men and women to stay pure was when they left the discipline of their daily routine. The routine you have developed at college is in for a summer shake up. Expect to struggle! Have a plan. Stay accountable. Know the friends that you are going to have to avoid and have a plan to talk to them about what God is doing in your life. Know your danger zones and discuss with a spiritually-minded friend how to avoid sin and temptation. Above all, PRAY! Pray that God would deliver you from temptation. Pray that God would allow you to have ministry opportunities like you have never had before. Pray that God would give you the grace to stay pure.
What a wonderful blessing it would be for you to look back on summer 2019 with joy and no regret. Let this summer be a summer of spiritual victories!
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.