TISHOMINGO, Okla. (BP)–Patrick’s life was in shambles. He had lost his job. His marriage was falling apart. He tried to drown his troubles in alcohol.
Driving around Tishomingo, Okla., wondering what to do with his life, he passed First Baptist Church.
It was after 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night. Patrick wondered why the church’s lights were on late at night in the middle of the week. Something drew him toward the lights. He walked into the church, sat down on the back row and bowed his head.
At the pulpit, Jimmy Kinnaird, personal evangelism specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, was finishing up a “Share Your Faith Without Fear” seminar. As Kinnaird led seminar participants in a time of commitment, Donald Rowland saw the young man at the back of the church, and went to share a witness with him according to what he had just learned in the seminar.
As the people left the auditorium and saw what was happening, they exited quietly, letting the two men have their privacy. Soon Rowland brought Patrick to pastor Perry Crisp and Kinnaird who had been waiting nearby, and said, “Let me introduce you to a new brother in Christ.”
As the three were getting information from Patrick, and he gave them his street address, Rowland looked up and said, “You’re kidding, I
prayerwalked that street last night. I prayed for you!”
“That experience let us know prayerwalks are effective,” Crisp said.
The prayerwalk was part of an eight-day Celebrate Jesus 2000 (CJ2K) kickoff in Tishomingo with First Baptist Church, Calvary and Bullard Chapel Baptist churches.
“On Sunday morning, I preached a motivational message, laid out the plan for the week and called for commitment and involvement [in witnessing] through pledge cards,” Crisp recounted. “That evening, we had testimonies from people who, in the past, led someone to Christ.”
Among the inspirational testimonies was one from a high school girl who had led another girl to Christ just the Wednesday before.
“This was a great inspiration for our youth, and although they had a lot of other activities that week, a good group of them didn’t miss any of the week’s events,” Crisp said.
Following the Sunday night testimonies, assignments were made for prayerwalks, prayer drives and teams for the next Saturday’s door-to-door evangelism event.
A “Praying Your Friends to Christ” prayer seminar on Monday preceded Tuesday’s prayerwalk/drive, followed by a “come as you are” bag-stuffing party Friday to prepare “Don’t Trash Your Soul” trash bags for Saturday’s door-to-door
Crisp said during the prayerwalk times many people stopped the walkers and asked what they were doing. Some even asked them to come inside a house and pray for a sick loved one.
“Our people enjoyed prayerwalking because it gave them an opportunity to witness,” Crisp noted. “It put us in contact with the community, put something visual in our prayers. You can look at toys in a yard, and know there are children to be prayed for, or see bumper stickers on cars that denote profanity or maybe a Christian message, and it gives you some idea for the direction of your prayers.”
Crisp said when he finished his prayerwalk area, he stopped four girls who were prayerwalking Main Street, and asked them if they needed any help.
“They said they were fine and could complete their assigned area,” Crisp said. “As I drove off, they were draped over the sign at an apartment complex, hands joined, praying for the apartment residents.”
Another event, a Thursday evening evangelistic banquet, was to “get our people fired up about soul-winning,” Crisp said, but it was actually a soul-winning experience in itself.
Crisp related that two ambulance personnel came in for a free meal. One was Leann Storers, who had been baptized at First Church the Sunday before.
They were still eating while evangelist Don Clark of Ardmore, Okla., was speaking, and Storers turned to her partner and asked him if he had ever invited Jesus into his heart.
When he said he hadn’t, Storers didn’t know where to go from there, but she found her Sunday school teacher, George Carter, who led the young man to the Lord.
During the door-to door blitz on Saturday, Crisp said most everyone they encountered was already in church somewhere.
But, he said, they found out two days later about a middle-aged man who had been sitting on his porch, drinking coffee, that Saturday.
“His wife is a strong Christian in another denomination, and he had been witnessed to hundreds of times,” Crisp said. “He said he was struggling, feeling restless, like God was working on him. He said, ‘God, if you’re real, you’re going to have to show me.'”
Thirty minutes later, a lady from First Baptist gave him a bag. He thanked her, didn’t say anything else, but read the material in the bag.
“He went to church with his wife on Sunday and made a profession of faith,” Crisp said. “This points out, you are not going to see results personally from every seed you sow.”
Church members are still praying that the tracts, left in homes and cars, may still be used to reach someone for Christ, Crisp said.
“God’s not through yet,” the pastor said, noting that prayer blazes the trail for evangelism.
“It’s like breaking up ground so you can drop in the seeds,” he said. “The load of evangelism is on God’s shoulders, but we try to put it on ours.”
And what about Patrick? His marriage has been restored, and he and his family moved to Shawnee, Okla., and are involved in church.
“You know, we were not having a revival meeting as such,” Crisp said, “but God sent someone who needed him to a witnessing seminar and someone else to a soul-winning banquet.”