17 SAU Students Ignite Evangelism Fires in Arizona

May 30 2006 / ShareHim in Flagstaff #16
by Phil Draper

Personal Testimony of Cleon Walker.

The art of preaching powerfully is a much sough-after phenomena. Men have labored through schools of theology and prestigious seminaries in order to learn how to best present the Gospel in a way that will move men and women to decision.

Some well-known senior pastors admittedly learned to make calls evangelistically only after many, many years in the ministry.

To consider bringing a group of university students -- with academic majors varying from education to nursing to theology -- to a conference that believes anybody can preach their own crusade seemed like a bit of sanctified gambling to some. Insanity to others. But a great opportunity of faith for 17 Southern Adventist University students from Collegedale, Tennessee.

Their professor, Dr. Carlos Martin, had challenged and inspired them to come on board for the most exciting adventure of their young lives. He presented an opportunity to spread their wings and do something at an early age that most older adults would be fearful of doing. Preach! Do public evangelism – go as missionaries to a western state far from home where each student could spend personal time getting to know the Bible – and God.

The response was overwhelming for this newly invented department of the university – the Evangelism Resource Center. This year 65 students are committed. When they return to the campus with their personal stories, that number will jump next year as others see the changed lives of their fellow-students, now trained and seasoned evangelists.

When Robbie Doss goes into the classroom as an elementary school teacher, he will stand before his class with a confidence earned from real experience – he can preach. Lead and encourage. Help people make a decision for eternity. Don’t you know he will also be able to better sell an idea, a concept, lead his young students in a way that will elicit positive response? He’s a preacher and a teacher. Trained and practiced.

And Kessia Bennett – she actually studied theology as a minor. But after arriving at the Camelback Seventh-day Adventist Church and preaching before Arizona’s largest Adventist congregation, then transitioning to her own evangelistic series in the nearby Rotunda, Kessia put all she’d learned into practice. She grabbed stories naturally and incorporated them into the sermons that had been written for her by ShareHim leaders. She made them her own and her audience was charmed, inspired, and made commitments to follow Christ and be baptized. Her husband will see a new Kessia when she returns to Collegedale. Her vast gifts and talents have been increased through this positive life-changing experience.

Following on the heels of a great evangelist like Shawn Boonstra was not a problem. Many attending the meetings of our Southern Adventist University students had also attended the Boonstra meetings. It was a chance to review the Adventist messages from a new perspective, to carefully examine the Bible doctrines they’d only recently accepted. Their faith was strengthened and some who were still in the valley of decision actually made their decision to follow the teachings they’d heard from Shawn Boonstra that were reinforced by these student-evangelists and plan for baptism into the Seventh-day Adventist church.

Arizona Conference President, Duane McKey, who helped bring the students to Arizona as part of the ShareHim global evangelism program, is delighted but not surprised at the results of these meetings.

“Some had reservations about bringing these students on the heels of the Boonstra campaign. But I knew they could make a difference in the lives of the people and I’ve not been disappointed. I witnessed the baptisms personally. We’ll finish with close to 75 baptisms as a result of these student-evangelistic campaigns. They have more than tripled the normal expectations while helping us keep the fires of evangelism burning in the hearts of our people -- especially our pastors who worked so closely with them! They leave behind a legacy in Arizona that will continue to grow even after they’re gone back to their lives as teachers, nurses, preachers. We’ll never forget them!”

If you know of a young person who is seeking adventure and personal fulfillment, have him or her contact our evangelism department at the Arizona Conference. Actually, that could be any department here – for we’re all focused on soul-winning. Many in the Arizona Conference office have already done a ShareHim meeting somewhere in the world while others are still planning their own debut as lay-evangelists.

The fields are white – and we have the joyous opportunity to be the reapers. 17 students from Southern Adventist University responded to the call. Now they will continue their lives covered with “reaping dust” all over their bodies, in their minds and hearts. And the joy on their faces tells the rest of the story. They heard the call – they said, “I’ll go!” – and God did the rest.

Phil Draper
Communication Director
Arizona Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
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