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Evangelists voice call to revitalize

SAN ANTONIO (BP)–If Southern Baptists are to serve as catalysts for spiritual awakening across the United States, pastors and churches alike must recommit to praying persistently and to the equipping needed for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

That was the message voiced to several hundred people attending a worship service sponsored by the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists June 10 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio prior to the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 12-13 annual meeting.

“The person who is going to reach the world for Jesus is the body of Christ,” said Sammy Tippit, a Southern Baptist evangelist from San Antonio. “There must be a prayer movement among the people of God.”

Having preached in 80 countries around the world, including war zones and regions closed to Christianity, Tippit contrasted Americans with much of the international world by describing U.S. citizens as a “needy people who don’t know it.”

“We have fainted in our prayer lives,” Tippit said. “The purpose of prayer is when you begin to pray what is on God’s heart…. We must give ourselves to pray for our families and our world until revival comes or Jesus comes. … If we were to have revival in our families, we would have revival in our churches.”

Tippit preached from Luke 18:1-8, in which Jesus instructs His disciples to never stop praying regardless of the circumstances. “Seek God in a fresh way, in a new way,” he said. Recalling the last great spiritual awakening in America about 150 years ago in New York City, Tippit said God “can do it again and He wants to do it.”

Randal Helms, an evangelist from Woodstock, Ga., described churches that aren’t focused on evangelism as a “country club with a steeple on top.”

“Everywhere we go we are to be sharing the Gospel of Jesus because that old-fashioned Gospel can change lives,” Helms said, preaching from Romans 1:16. “Jesus calls us to be fishers of men; He never said we are to be a keeper of the aquarium. If we aren’t fishing, we aren’t following. Too many churches are more of an organization than an organism that is making a difference in the lives of people who are lost and going to a devil’s hell.”

Phil Glisson, an evangelist from Memphis, Tenn., said familiarity can be among the problems that hinder Christians from reaching others for Christ.

“Don’t miss God [at work] in the ordinary here and now,” Glisson said in a message from Mark 6:1-6. Familiarity, Glisson warned, can easily lead to complacency.

Victor Benavides, an evangelism specialist with the North American Mission Board, said every Christian has been called by God to do the work of an evangelist. “There’s a divine power that we have,” he said. “If you’re saved, you’re sent.”

Benavides said one-on-one personal evangelism through surveys or evangelistic block parties are highly effective ways to reach people for Christ. “Door-to-door still works,” he said.

Gary Bowlin of Summit, Miss., president of the evangelists’ organization concluded the three-hour service by challenging everyone in attendance to talk with at least one person about Jesus before having lunch.

“Tell somebody that is on the road to hell about Jesus,” Bowlin pleaded.

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  • Lee Weeks