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Evangelists hit hard by Katrina but still ready for soul-winning

MANSFIELD, Texas (BP)–In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many Southern Baptist churches have come to the aid of pastors who have lost their livelihoods, but another group of ministers is struggling as well -– and their needs are going largely unnoticed.

“It has been exciting to see Southern Baptists rally for churches and for pastors in the hurricane zone, but evangelists lost homes and income too,” said Bill Britt, president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE). “Two of our evangelists lost their homes and everything else, and most of them lost meetings. Some lost weeks of income, and they can’t reschedule because many of those churches are struggling now.”

COSBE has helped a number of evangelists whose homes were damaged and raised about $20,000 for a church in southern Louisiana, but the needs are greater than the association can meet on its own, Britt said. He is encouraging churches to come alongside Southern Baptist evangelists the same way they have stepped up to help pastors.

“Insurance companies are going to take forever getting money to some of these places,” he said. “We are encouraging churches to adopt evangelists. If churches will help them financially, it will free evangelists -– our very best soul-winners -– to focus on helping people who have been devastated by the hurricanes.”

Even two months after Hurricane Katrina wiped out much of the Gulf Coast, people in the region still are asking serious questions about the meaning of life -– and searching for answers, said Britt, of Mansfield, Texas, who has served in fulltime evangelism for 21 years through his ministry organization, Compel Outreach International.

“Several evangelists have met with leaders of the North American Mission Board to talk about strategies for reaching out to people who are suffering from the storm,” he said. “Some of us have been down to New Orleans and other places to pass out food and do personal soul-winning.

“If evangelists have some income for their families, they can be free to focus on ministry during this time that their meetings have been canceled, without having to worry about taking care of their families,” he said.

Britt said he has worked for years to help churches see the value of having an evangelist on staff, or at least using them in non-traditional ways.

“The office of evangelist is mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 -– the same verse that lists the pastor. If evangelists are on church staff and supported financially, it allows them to work more closely with local church ministries, especially during times of great difficulty,” he said. “Some churches are bringing in evangelists to conduct the invitation when they have Easter or Christmas pageants. That helps the evangelist, and it helps the church too.”
Churches interested in helping an evangelist in distress can telephone Britt at (682) 518-0880 or e-mail [email protected]. COSBE’s website is at http://www.sbcevangelist.org.

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  • Mark Kelly