OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–If two guys can make more than 20,000 evangelistic contacts in a 10-state area in 14 days, what can more than 700,000 Oklahoma Baptists do in one day in only one state?
That’s the challenge Alan Quigley and Chris Forbes put to Oklahoma Baptists as they returned from their evangelistic road trip through 10 western states.
On Aug. 18, Quigley and Forbes left Oklahoma City in a specially-painted pick-up truck on a road trip with a goal of making 10,000 evangelistic contacts. They focused on rest areas, truck stops, tourist sites and other places where people gather, and they handed out tracts, Bibles, water bottles and key chains to raise awareness of Jesus.
Quigley, evangelism specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said Oklahomans are going to be challenged to make 100,000 evangelism contacts door-to-door on March 31, two weeks before Easter, in a statewide outreach effort.
“We wanted to inspire Oklahomans to get out and be more proactive in sharing their faith,” said Forbes, BGCO evangelism marketing specialist. “We have a great convention and a great bunch of churches that are compassionate and care about the Gospel, but we’ve let ourselves slip into inactivity.”
Quigley said it was much easier to tell about Jesus on their trip than even he and Forbes thought it would be.
“We figured it was 10,000 times easier to share the Gospel than most people thought,” Quigley said. “But we found it was 10,000 times easier than we thought.”
The idea of the trip blossomed when Quigley was invited to lead CROSS evangelism training for the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention, which has 140 churches and 20,000 members.
“We wanted to tie that to Oklahoma Life, the March 31 blitz, the television campaign and printed material going out over the state,” he said. “We wanted to get the Gospel out in Utah-Idaho, but we also wanted to challenge Oklahoma Baptists to go out with us from their churches on March 31 to reach their whole community.”
Quigley said he and Forbes exceeded their expectations with opportunities to share the Gospel.
“In a small town in Idaho, we went door-to-door with a pastor and came upon a guy who was signing his divorce papers,” Quigley recounted. “That was a timely visit because it’s a small community and the pastor met the guy at a time he was open to meeting the pastor.”
Another opportunity led to impacting an entire community at a county fair.
“The pastor of the church plant said most of the people in that county lived in a closed community and had little contact with anyone except at the fair,” Quigley said. “We put Gospel tracts on cars of everyone who was there.”
Quigley said he shared one-on-one with a man wearing a University of Oklahoma cap at breakfast one morning, and it turned out the man was on a business trip and lives two blocks from the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City.
A pastor in Cedar City, Utah, who just arrived on the field helped blitz the community, and two prospects joined the church before he had a chance to join.
Forbes said he expects responses to be delayed from the initial outreaches, but already one salvation is listed on the Internet. The duo hopes to see at least 250 people make professions of faith and post their testimonies on the website www.mostimportantthing.org.
“It’s going to take more than our trip,” Forbes said. “Oklahoma Baptists have opportunity to continue to cultivate seeds that were planted through our three-year partnership with Utah-Idaho. They can go and see the fruit that just got started.”
The whole western United State is dry spiritually, Forbes said.
“If we are not careful, we’ll have that same spiritual dryness in our communities,” he said. “If we keep going through the motions, not engaging our communities, not becoming active, the devil can get a foothold, and there will be darkness. I don’t think that’s the Oklahoma we want to live in.”
According to the BGCO evangelism department, there have been more evangelism training materials produced in recent years than in the history of the convention, yet the numbers of people making professions of faith and requesting baptism each year have diminished.
Sharing the Gospel with a large number of people wasn’t something that took particular talent or resources to do on their trip, Forbes noted, so others ought to be able to follow in their footsteps in their everyday lives.
“It was just a little action, but it stirred others to act,” he said. “We want to stir people in Oklahoma to action. We have a tremendous opportunity through the Oklahoma Life and evangelistic media campaign next spring to make an impact and do the same kind of seed-sowing we did in Utah-Idaho and beyond.”
The road trip covered ground in Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Dana Williamson is associate editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger newsjournal, online at www.baptistmessenger.com.