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Seminarians go door-to-door, play soccer in ‘Reaching Out’

LOUSVILLE, Ky. (BP)–One hundred Southern Baptist Theological Seminary students teamed with six local churches and the Baptist Student Union international ministry at the University of Louisville to share the Gospel throughout the metro area during this fall’s annual Reaching Out initiative.

Tom Bohnert, assistant to the director of Southern’s Great Commission Center, said four people prayed to receive Christ during the evangelistic event and another 40 showed significant interest in local churches.

“Cold turkey evangelism is difficult, and our students stepped up to the plate and did it,” Bohnert said.

“The students on our team were polite but firm in asking people about their spiritual condition. When they had opportunities they engaged people with questions, and that was exciting to see. If students will engage in this type of ministry on a regular basis, then evangelism will become a lifestyle and not just a program — and that is our goal,” Bohnert said.

Students and members of five of the churches witnessed door-to-door and did survey work, also distributing the “Jesus” film and church literature.

Mark McClellan, professor of theology and missions at Boyce College and pastor of Jesus Es El Senor (Jesus is Lord) Hispanic Baptist mission, said the students were a great help to the outreach of the new church plant.

“The students witnessed door-to-door and in the streets of a Hispanic neighborhood and distributed tracts and flyers in apartment complexes and places of business,” McClellan said. “They exhibited a wonderful evangelistic spirit.”

Crossroads to the Nations Baptist Church combined with the BSU international group from the University of Louisville to put together a soccer tournament followed by a lunch fellowship. A team of Southern students and three teams from U of L, one Korean, one Chinese and one of mixed international students, participated in the event. Each team played three games and the luncheon offered a chance for the Southern students to make contacts with non-believers.

Job Goshi, a second-year Southern student who organized the seminary soccer team, said, “I think soccer is a great game and one that internationals enjoy playing. The primary thing we tried to do was build relationships and a few of us were able to share the Gospel. It was a great opportunity.”

In addition to being a great ministry to the community of Louisville, Bohnert sees two main benefits of the Reaching Out initiative.

“First, it provides our students with a practical, hands-on evangelistic opportunity,” he said. “Reaching Out allows students to get out and put to practice the skills that they have learned here at the seminary. The secondary benefit is that it is a blessing to the local churches.”

Bohnert explained that each church determines individually what the students will do. “I want us to go and provide physical resources for what the church needs at that time, and I leave what we are going to do in their hands,” he said. “That demonstrates that we are flexible and able to fit into their ministry purposes, vision and plan.”

While door-to-door witnessing and surveying were the focus of the Oct. 22 outreach, along with sports evangelism through the soccer tournament, Reaching Out in past years also has involved raking leaves, prayerwalking and distributing Vacation Bible School promotional material.

This was the sixth Reaching Out organized by Southern. It began in the spring of 2003 and occurs once each spring and fall. The next Reaching Out will be March 18.

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  • Garrett E. Wishall