LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–More than half a million Louisville residents saw “Thunder Over Louisville” as an opportunity to view an air show and fireworks display along the banks of the Ohio River.
But a group of students and faculty at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary saw the April 17 event as an opportunity to share the message of Christ with hundreds of lost neighbors.
Students and faculty took part in “Reaching Out 2004,” a Saturday morning event in which teams from Southern shared the Gospel at strategic sites throughout Louisville. The teams witnessed to several hundred people in three different languages — English Korean, Spanish.
“I know that God has touched many hearts and that we will see fruit from that,” said Twyla Fagan, director of Great Commission ministries at Southern Seminary. “His Word does not return void. So we are very thankful for what He is going to do and what He has done in our own hearts as well.”
J.D. Payne, associate professor of evangelism and church planting, was part of the team that shared the Gospel with attendees at Thunder Over Louisville.
“Everyone we talked to was very open to talking about the Gospel,” Payne said. “We had people asking questions, asking tough questions. We were praying with people down there, leaving tracts behind and leaving cards behind.”
One young man named Brian asked Payne a series of probing questions about Christ.
“He was really seeking,” Payne said. “He said, ‘I’m just really struggling over whether Jesus is the only way.’ He was so honest and so open, dialoguing and wanting to know the truth. I challenged him in his prayers to pray that God would reveal Himself to him. I left a tract behind and prayed for him.”
Matthew Cooke, a master of divinity student from Maynardville, Tenn., shared the Gospel with a woman who had battled a drug addiction for 20 years. At first, the woman was unreceptive to Cooke. But after he listened to her speak about her life struggles, the woman allowed Cooke to talk about Christ.
“After I listened to her problems for a while and really cared and was compassionate, she started telling me the truth,” Cooke said. “… A lot of times people will tell you things to get you out of their face. But the more you minister to people in their entirety, the more they will be willing to let you minister to them in the spiritual realm.”
Reaching Out 2004 gave Matthew Levant, a master of divinity student from Laredo, Texas, an opportunity to see spiritual warfare taking place. While conducting door-to-door evangelism with a Hispanic church plant, Levant encountered Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons canvassing the same neighborhood.
“There was just evident spiritual warfare,” he said. “When we would go knock on doors, there were Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons in the same area. I’d go knock on one door, and they’d come following me back and knock on it afterward.”
At one point, Levant encountered a Jehovah’s Witness on the doorstep of an apartment. The Witness insisted that salvation comes through good works, but Levant pointed her to Scriptures teaching that salvation comes by faith alone.
Wynesia Dickerson, a master of divinity student from Louisville, met a woman named Laura who had been praying for God to lead her to a church home. Dickerson was able to share Christ with the woman and point her to a local SBC church.
“She had moved from Louisville five years ago but was still trying to find a church home,” Dickerson said. “She was excited that we came and told her about [the church] because she had just prayed for that. So she was excited and said she was going to come on Sunday.”