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Seminary students share Gospel with lost of Louisville
April 09, 2007
By David Roach

Christopher Sills and Megan Phillips wait to speak to a resident during Reaching Out, March 17. Photo by John Gill

During Reaching Out 2007 more than 100 students and faculty at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary took the truths they are learning in the classroom to the streets of the Derby City.

The annual outreach event gives members of the seminary community a chance to share the Gospel with unchurched people in Louisville in coordination with local churches. Activities at the March 17 outreach included door-to-door witnessing, Spanish language ministry, Bible distribution and evangelistic surveying.

"We had a large turnout here on campus and even more people waiting for us at the churches where we went to minister," said David Sills, director of Southern's Great Commission Center and associate professor of Christian missions and cultural anthropology. "It is great to have the opportunity for students and faculty to minister shoulder to shoulder in the Louisville community."

Sills, who has served as a missionary in Latin America, was on a team that went door-to-door at an apartment complex in southern Indiana inviting Spanish-speaking residents to attend a local Spanish church. A number of people expressed interest in having an opportunity to learn more about Jesus in a Spanish-speaking environment, Sills said.

"One pregnant young woman asked that someone from the church come pick her up for church the next day," he said. "We made arrangements for one of the church ladies to go by and get her for worship."

Ricky Hardison, a master of divinity student from Macon, Ga., served on a team at Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville that picked up trash in a local neighborhood and looked for opportunities to speak with people about Christ. One man Hardison encountered was willing to listen to someone speak about Jesus although he did not want to speak much himself.

"This one particular gentleman was probably in his early 20s, and he was willing to hear about the Gospel. I pursued him with some questions after that, but he was really kind of soft spoken," Hardison said, adding that he had other similar opportunities during the day.

Hardison's team also encountered a woman whose grandchildren attended Vacation Bible School at Immanuel last year. They picked up trash from her yard and invited her to return to Immanuel.

Angela Van Neste, whose husband Scott is a master of divinity student, was part of a team at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville that distributed Bibles and invited people to attend an Easter worship service.

Despite encountering several people who said they were either uninterested in church or didn't have time, Van Neste met one man who was open to hearing the Gospel. Van Neste's husband told the man how he could become a Christian and have eternal life.

"He seemed open to listening to the Gospel," she said. "But then he had to leave so we had to cut it off."

Although most of the people Van Neste encountered seemed uninterested in spiritual matters, the group was able to give a witness that will hopefully bear fruit later, she said.

"Hopefully some seeds were planted there," she said.

Sills said Reaching Out is a good opportunity for students and professors to work together to take the message of Jesus outside the seminary campus.

"It was a great opportunity to interact with the students and to engage the community," Sills said.

"The students see their professors in the classroom on a regular basis, but in the Reaching Out Louisville Great Commission event we have the opportunity to see the Kingdom value of the disciplines we teach."

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