INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Twenty-two people made decisions for Christ after hearing the Gospel through music and teaching at “ONE,” an inaugural student evangelism event hosted by the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists June 8 in Indianapolis.
The Christian music group NewSong joined evangelists Tony Nolan and Ken Freeman for a night focused on the choices people make — and how one decision can have a lifelong impact.
“The single most important choice you need to make is to be sure you are rightly connected with Jesus Christ,” Nolan told the audience, a mix of students from Indiana and others from around the country in town for the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting.
Both Nolan and Freeman emphasized that living an authentic Christian life begins with a decision to follow Christ with every part of one’s heart.
“You’ve been created with the power to choose. If you want to live for Jesus, choose it,” said Freeman, a Texas-based evangelist who has shared about the importance of making wise choices in thousands of 20,000 school assemblies. “You need to make sure before you walk out of these doors that Jesus Christ is your life.”
Nolan exhorted the youth to make that choice, challenging them to a real faith in a God who brings ultimate freedom. While many youth may say they are connected to Jesus Christ, Nolan challenged the students to “be who you claim to be.” He focused on the heart of each listener, leading them through Romans 10:9-10 and emphasizing personal responsibility for making a faith decision.
“I can help you with the ‘Confess with your mouth’ part, … I can lead you through a time of prayer … but only you can ‘believe in your heart,’” he said.
Twelve of those who responded to the message made first-time commitments to Christ, joining 10 more who rededicated their lives or made firm their choice to follow Jesus. Brian Fossett, president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, said the decisions reflect the purpose of ONE.
“If there had just been one saved, it would have been worth doing it,” said Fossett, who worked with COSBE music director Dean Forrest to coordinate the event.
Several years ago, Forrest began to envision an event like ONE, dreaming of a way COSBE could use their collective callings and resources to impact students.
“As evangelists, we come to the Southern Baptist Convention and have our retreat, but we started thinking, ‘Why don’t we do an evangelical service to reach young people in the city where we’ll be?” Forrest said.
In the months leading up to ONE, COSBE’s leaders partnered with the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana to promote the event among churches, encouraging youth groups to bring unreached friends to hear the message of Jesus Christ. They advertised ONE on the Christian radio station K-LOVE, which helped get the word out to a broader audience. Forrest estimated about 400 people attended the inaugural event.
As those who made decisions were counseled by youth leaders at the end, Nolan addressed the rest of the group, urging them to begin to pray for at least one person who doesn’t yet know Christ. Nolan reminded the group that each person they prayed for is a soul that God loves and a life He wants to transform. He encouraged each person to see the evening as a kickoff for how God might use them to reach out.
“I knew this was an evangelical night, but I prayed that it would have a residual effect, that it would affect what you do when you go home,” Nolan said.
The ONE youth rally was part of COSBE’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Meredith Day coordinates communications with the Vision San Diego outreach of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board’s Strategic Focus Cities initiative. For more information on the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, visit www.sbcevangelist.org.