MILFORD, N.H. (BP)–As a team of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary students approached the New Hampshire residential neighborhood ready for a day of door-to-door ministry, they prayed that God would send them divine appointments. That day, they knocked on the door of a dying man who had never heard the gospel.
Bill Brown, assistant professor of evangelism and church planting at the North Carolina seminary, was leading the door-to-door group of seminarians when they encountered a man in his early 50s with lung cancer.
As the seminarians witnessed to him, the man questioned, “If there is a God, why does he allow bad things to happen?”
“I can’t answer why these things happen,” Brown answered. “But I can tell you that God loves you and he is good.”
No lesson in a classroom could have prepared Brown’s students for coming face-to-face with the sober reality of how many people face a God-less eternity.
That is why Brown extends his evangelism classroom all over North America through guided summer mission trips.
“When Jesus looked upon the crowds, he was moved with compassion because he saw the sheep without a shepherd. Coming here to New Hampshire and actually seeing people face-to-face and seeing their desperate need, God gives us a sense of calling,” Brown said.
Greg Hyler, a master of divinity student from Florence, S.C., who was on the Aug. 3-10 mission trip, said he believed God sent his group divine appointments throughout the entire week.
“When you find yourself in this type of situation, you begin to really understand divine appointments,” Hyler said. “You just know that God has you in a particular place at a particular time for a reason and you know God is preparing the way before we even knock on the doors.
“When you see a man who has lived his whole life without knowing the truth of God’s love, you realize that if no one tells him about Jesus, he could die without hope,” Hyler said.
Hyler, along with 13 Southeastern students, spent a week working with North American Mission Board church planters Joe and Pat Grenier in Milford, N.H.
The Greniers are church planters under the Nehemiah Project, a partnership between the North American Mission Board, the six Southern Baptist Seminaries and the Baptist state conventions.
“Volunteers, just like the students from Southeastern are the life’s blood of a church start in New England,” said Grenier, an alumnus of Southeastern. “People up here don’t need religion, they need relationships and with volunteers coming in helping make as many contacts with people, I am able to form relationships with more people.”
The seminary students spent a week in Milford going door-to-door to help the Greniers lay the foundation for New Beginnings Baptist Church.
The students also ministered to the community by doing servant evangelism, such as giving a free community car wash and passing out bottled water at a local festival.
“The best way to break the barriers between Christians and those who don’t know Christ is to be a servant,” said Greg Hames, a master of divinity student from Hudson, N.C. “The only way to show people that is to love them and give them something they need.”
The Southeastern seminarians knocked on almost 800 doors in the Milford area and gave more than 120 gospel presentations.
“I enjoyed helping out the Greniers and their ministry here in Milford and I enjoyed being part of Jesus’ work here in New Hampshire,” said Rick Szekely, a master of divinity student in counseling from Charlotte, N.C. “Seminary students who go on mission in New Hampshire have the opportunity to see if church planting may be for them. This is practical stuff…. You won’t learn these things sitting in a classroom.”
“As far as evangelism, the seminary classroom teaches you the basic parameters of witnessing,” Hyler said, “but when it comes to knocking on doors in another part of the country, this training cannot be gained sitting in a classroom.
“This kind of mission trip makes you hungry to reach the world for the gospel. Starting in New England.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: SEMINARIANS’ SUDS and WITNESS & WASH.