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Seminarians share faith in inaugural 'Reaching Out' effort
June 09, 2003
By David Roach

From servant evangelism to inner-city outreach, 100 seminarians and several faculty and staff members at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary took the message of Jesus Christ to the city of Louisville in late April.

The seminary’s first annual Reaching Out project was part of Great Commission Week.

“To see over a hundred students and faculty come out just to go out and share the Gospel is in some ways a dream come true,” said Chuck Lawless, associate professor of evangelism and church growth and a participant in Reaching Out 2003.

“It’s evidence that evangelism is catching fire on this campus.”

For Calvin Fowler, an M.Div. student from Chattanooga, Tenn., Reaching Out 2003 provided a unique opportunity to water a Gos-pel seed planted by a pastor nearly 60 years ago.

While doing inner-city evangelism, Fowler encountered two sisters and learned that their father had been a Baptist pastor. Neither woman professed faith in Christ, but one of them still had a tract their father had given her in 1944.

“So I was able to read through the tract out loud, from 1944, and it was really cool. It had verses on how to be saved, and it was a real blessing to talk to them,” Fowler said.

Through encounters like Fowler’s, Reaching Out 2003 participants distributed more than 1,000 tracts, New Testaments and copies of the “Jesus” film, said Twyla Fagan, director of Great Commission ministries and coordinator of Reaching Out 2003.

Lynn Robinson, whose husband is an M.Div. student, discovered that in some cases the tracts had an immediate impact.

When one conversation did not present Robinson with an opportunity to share the Gospel, she left a tract and a Bible with the man to whom she was talking. Walking by the man’s house several minutes later, she found him intently studying the tract.

“We went on our way, and a little while later we come back, and he was sitting on the front porch of his apartment reading the tract and the Bible. We asked him how it was going, and he said it was ‘good,’” Robinson said.

Matthew Spradlin, an M.Div. student from Bakersfield, Calif., had the opportunity to lead two people to Christ while doing door-to-door visitation. At one house, Spradlin discovered a couple eager to hear the Gospel.

“They were a family that had been to church,” he said. “They just didn’t know the Gospel or how to be saved and have a relationship with Christ. So we shared with them, and at the end they said they would like to pray with us to accept Christ. So we got to listen to them ask Christ to come into their lives.”

For Larry Purcell, associate professor of leadership and church ministry, one of several faculty participants, the event underscores that the aim of seminary teaching is ultimately to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

“One of the things that drives me at times is that as much as we teach in the white ivory towers of education and academia, so often we have to get out where people are in the Kingdom and to find out what it’s like in the marketplace because that impacts the way I deal with people here and the way I teach as well,” Purcell said.

Fagan described Reaching Out 2003 -- “for a first-time event” -- as very successful, she said. “We had over 100 people participating, and many lives were touched. I just couldn’t be more pleased.”


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