LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Megan Stephens had just finished sharing the Gospel with a student at the University of Louisville, when another conversation caught her attention.
It was hard not to notice.
A fellow team member on Stephens’ Boyce College evangelism team had engaged an obviously troubled U of L undergraduate in an earnest discussion about life and meaning. The latter was crying. The reason?
“He was looking for hope, but he just couldn’t find it,” Stephens said. “He was saying how he was so lost and he knew there was something out there but he couldn’t find it.”
The encounter is just one example of the many conversations initiated every week by members of Boyce College’s four evangelism teams.
Some 30 students from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s undergraduate college regularly participate in the weekly outreach through the teams as they seek to provide answers to lost Louisvillians, like that U of L student.
“It just broke my heart to know that he’s not the only student out there that feels that way,” said Stephens, a bachelor of science student from Louisville. “We talk to tons of students a week that are just looking for that hope, looking for that satisfaction that can only be met through Jesus.”
The four Boyce teams go out on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The Monday team, led by Aaron Coffey, takes the Gospel to nursing homes. The Tuesday team, led by Jon David Huffman, has evangelized in a variety of settings, including Louisville’s Waterfront Park, the local malls and the infamously postmodern and eclectic Bardstown Road area.
Thursday provides an opportunity for students, led by Stephens, to share the good news of Christ at the student activities center on the campus of U of L. And on Friday, James McCray and Tyler Ratliff bring a team back to Bardstown Road for street evangelism.
The leaders were chosen because of their passion for sharing the Gospel, said Brooke Anderson, a bachelor of science student who serves as the student activities coordinator for the Boyce student council and organizer of the teams.
“We wanted to have leaders of the teams who we know are already consistently sharing the Gospel,” she said.
Team leaders rotate every semester to allow more students the opportunity to develop organizational and motivational skills. These leaders also help train and shepherd anxious students in the evangelistic task.
“That’s one of the purposes of the evangelism teams — for students to learn to share the Gospel,” Anderson said. “The more you do it, the more comfortable you’re going to be.”
Anderson knows something about this evangelistic apprenticeship. Boyce College dean Jimmy Scroggins actually taught her how to share the Gospel. Anderson grew up under Scroggins’ ministry at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, where he still serves as the youth minister.
“Ever since then, I’ve just had a passion to share the Gospel,” she said.
That same passion led Anderson and the rest of the Boyce student council to create the Boyce evangelism teams three semesters ago.
The goals that spawned the teams are the same goals that spur them now — to impact the community for Christ and to impress on students the hows and whys of evangelism, Anderson said.
“I had met a lot of girls and guys who are here training for ministry and had never shared the Gospel with anybody,” she said. “And so, that was a burden on my heart.
“… [T]here should not be a day that goes by that people are not sharing the Gospel in our community. That’d be a shame for our community not to be impacted by our school being here.”
Stephens sees a great opportunity for both the community and the world to be reached through her team’s survey evangelism at U of L.
“We’ve also really been focusing on international students, because there are so many there that have never been in an American home or talked to American people,” she said.
“So we’ve really just been interacting with them, building relationships, as well as learning their culture, learning their religion, so we’re able to apologetically share the Gospel with them.”
Relationship building is something for which the teams strive. Last semester, one team had the opportunity to interact with the homeless on Bardstown Road. On one chilly night last winter, several students were chatting with some of the homeless, who expressed their needs for socks, shoes, coats and gloves.
“We literally left them, went to K-Mart, bought everything they told us they needed and brought it back,” Anderson said. “… They were so thankful and gracious. They said that they saw such a difference in us than other people and the way other people treated them.”
Evangelism is a matter of Christian discipline, but it is also a stewardship, Anderson said.
“If we’re training to be ministers of the Gospel, then we need to be stewards of the Gospel,” she said. “And how can you be a better steward of the Gospel than to share the Gospel with lost people?”