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618 make decisions during seminary spring evangelism effort

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Revival requires purposeful, powerful, believing prayer, a group of student evangelists learned first hand during spring revival meetings that they led.

The 86 students from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, led revival meetings at 88 churches in 26 states and Canada in March and late May. Six hundred and eighteen people made decisions as a result of the effort with 123 of those decisions being first-time professions of faith.

“Revival does not happen without prayer,” said Dan Crawford, Southwestern professor of evangelism and spiritual formation and director of the Spring Evangelism Practicum, during an April 3 chapel.

“The Spirit of the Lord is working in tremendous ways,” he continued.

Most of the students led revivals during spring break March 11-14 with a group of 10 going out May 26-31 to the Urban Evangelism Practicum in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

“Sometimes revival does not happen at all when these men go out to preach, but for sure it does not happen without prayer,” Crawford said.

The student-led revivals are offered to small churches in areas outside the Bible Belt. The churches are asked to provide only ground transportation, lodging and food.

At the April chapel, eight students and a pastor of one of the host churches spoke about their experiences.

Sammy Simmons, a master of divinity student from Georgia, said he prayed for revival before going to Green Valley Baptist Church, Mt. Vernon, Ohio.

“Praise God, one teenager got saved,” Simmons reported. “Revival really occurred at the church.”

Husbands, whose wives said they would not come to church before, came, as did the pastor’s son who had not been to church in 2 years, he added.

Two children, Elliot and his younger sister, brought their mother to services, Simmons continued.

Knocking on doors with Paul Cantrell, a church member who “walked me to death,” resulted in two more people coming to services, Simmons said.

Todd White, a diploma of theology student from Odessa, Texas, who went to Douglas, Kansas, gave “thanks for the prayers and prayer partners who prayed” for him.

White recounted a story about Chris, a man cold to the gospel. Chris’ wife requested prayer for his salvation and during the week, the Holy Spirit broke through the coldness of his heart, and he came to saving faith in Christ, White said.

“It was an exciting time,” he added.

Chad Hertler, a master of divinity student from Wisconsin, went to Richville, N. Y.

Only 20 to 40 people were expected for each night at the services, but 50 came Monday night, 70 to 100 youth and adults came for “Youth Night” Tuesday and about 50 people came Wednesday, Hertler said.

Doug Johnson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Imperial Beach, Calif., shared via telephone at the chapel the impact that God had made in the life of his church and community through Scott Callaham, a master of divinity student from Texas. It was Scott’s second year in a row to serve there.

“One evening, when there were no apparent decisions during the service, immediately following the service, two teen-age boys wandered into the auditorium and, before leaving that evening, both prayed to receive Jesus Christ,” Johnson said.

A major issue for the church, according to Callaham, is that a “huge number of women who are in leadership positions at the church where almost none of their husbands are even Christians.”

“The men of IB are in the most need of prayer,” he added.

Ed Butler, a master of divinity student from Texas, held revival meetings in Owyhee, Nev.

During a service, a girl, who the church had been praying for 2 years, came forward with tears in her eyes and told the pastor that she wanted to become a Christian.

Carlos Rodriguez, a master of divinity student from Mexico, said he witnessed the power of prayer through 10 professions of faith, 35 rededications and 10 calls to ministry on his trip to Douglas, Ariz.

“Revival is a work of the Holy Spirit. Glory to God,” he said.

The students who participated in the practicum voted to award Rodriguez the Todd Brooks Reiza Award for demonstrating genuine compassion for non-Christians.

The Spring Evangelism Practicum was begun in 1963 when it was called Pioneer Penetration. Since that time, 4,836 students have led revivals in 4,282 churches resulting in 13,135 professions of faith.

    About the Author

  • Larry Virnau