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FIRST-PERSON: Making evangelism good news again


ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–The more I think about our convention in Nashville this year, the better I feel about our future. I have heard many people say that we seem to have “turned the corner.” I believe we have and that we are now ready to go full speed down the highway paved with the Good News of Jesus!

One of the most amazing stories I heard at the convention, or that I have heard anywhere else for that matter, came from a group of evangelistic heroes we don’t hear enough about: our Southern Baptist chaplains. They are all over the world sharing the Good News on battlefields, hospitals, police stations, schools, businesses and more. My wife and I spoke to a lunch NAMB sponsored for our chaplains and we sat by my friend U.S. Army Chaplain Daniel Middlebrooks. He shared the following story with us that came to him from Major Eric Frutchey, 1/26 Infantry, Schweinfurt, Germany. Hold onto your heart and listen to his words:

“One of the military units had received a load of clothes and something special — stuffed toys. Many schools were sending them to the soldiers to give to the Iraqi children. On one such occasion, the unit came to one of the villages and distributed the clothing, but when they started to hand out the stuffed animals, the few kids they had seen swelled to a great number. You did not know where they all came from. It a simple act of love by these American soldiers to a group of people that had seen more horror than help. But the story does not end there.

“The next day, the convoy of security patrols left their base camp and was driving by the village they visited the day before. As they were coming down the long stretch of pavement, they could see a figure standing in the middle of the road. As they drew closer in these armored vehicles of war, the figure did not move. With binoculars, the lead vehicle looked and saw that it was one of the little girls, about 5 years old, from the village. She stood there, with a stuffed toy in her arms, not moving. The lead vehicle called back to the Base camp and asked what to do. The scenarios of roadside bombs and diversions using people and kids had been seen before. The base camp told them to slow down and go around her but ‘be careful!’ As they drove around her, the passenger realized why she stood so bravely. She was standing in front of a mine that was placed there during the night. She wanted to make sure that the soldiers that had given her a gift of love would not be harmed. And she was willing to give her life for them.”

WOW! Listen to Chaplain Middlebrooks’ response: “As a chaplain in this awesome and great military of ours, I believe that little girl helped to display what the very essence of the military ministry is all about. As chaplains and as Christians, we need to be willing to stand in front of the spiritual landmines of this world and say, ‘No further! The enemy wants to kill you!’ The little girl from Iraq was willing to sacrifice her life for the ones that showed her love. Should we be willing to do any less for the Christ who loved us with His death?”

Every time you share the love of Jesus, every time you build a relationship with an unchurched friend, every time you engage a seeker in a conversation about the Good News, you stand in front of eternal landmines on their behalf. What an opportunity every day holds for us. What a life God has given us. Join the movement! Come on Southern Baptists, let’s make evangelism good news again.
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John Avant is vice president for evangelization at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.

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  • John Avant