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Stuck in elevator, student shares faith with S. African airline pilot

OMAHA, Neb. (BP)–Jenny Bressel really didn’t know what to expect at her first evangelism conference as she headed to Omaha for a couple of days with her youth group from First Southern Baptist Church of Salina, Kan.

The unexpected happened, however, at the host hotel. Trapped in an elevator for almost 90 minutes, Bressel turned to her FAITH. Standing by a South African airline pilot she began to share what God had done for her.

“I’ve grown up more [spiritually] in these two days than I thought,” said the high school senior.

Bressel was among 1,200-plus youth and adults who gathered for annual “In. D.E.P.T.H.” evangelism training at Omaha’s Doubletree Hotel Dec. 28-29.

The pilot’s name was Alex is all Jenny remembers. But what she will never forget is that Alex prayed to receive Jesus as his Savior.

Georgia Hickman, one of the group’s sponsors, also was confined to the stuck elevator with two other members of the youth group, Ashley Pound and Jessica Davis.

“There we were with about 10 people in the elevator. Jenny just asked the man the transition question,” said Hickman, 79, a veteran of youth mission trips. “He said, ‘I do not have any idea what it means to be saved.’ So we started sharing with him.

“He had never heard the story about Jesus’ birth and death. Whenever he had a question, Ashley and Jessica would help show him a Bible verse.”

It was Hickman who asked the airline pilot if he would like to pray to accept Jesus Christ. “I led him in the sinner’s prayer. I also prayed that God would get us out of the elevator and about that time the doors opened,” Hickman recounted.

After the elevator’s doors opened the man seemed to disappear. Hickman said the group never saw him again, but they immediately shared with Terry McIlvain, student evangelism director with Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, what had happened. With the help of McIlvain they left a New Testament at the hotel’s front desk for the pilot.

Bressel wrote a note to Alex and enclosed her e-mail address. Upon arriving home from the two-day youth evangelism conference she had a reply from Alex. He shared that the individuals who had shared with him would never know how much he needed to receive Jesus.

Bressel’s church in Salina has participated in FAITH evangelism training, and Bressel and Hickman both give credit to FAITH for providing them with the boldness to tell someone else about Jesus.

“FAITH has a tremendous impact on our church,” reported Glenn Davis, the church’s pastor. “With Jenny and many others like her, it has equipped them to be more comfortable to share their faith. It has given them a plan, a format to share when situations come up like they did in Omaha.”

First Southern Baptist Church has between 30 to 40 people who gather each Monday night as part of the FAITH ministry.

McIlvain said 152 decisions were recorded during the “In. D.E.P.T.H.” conference. Thirty-eight young people made professions of faith in Jesus Christ. Other decisions included six for assurance of their salvation; two candidates for baptism; 56 rededications to their faith; and 50 who requested prayer for events in their lives.

Students and adults gave $7,386.30 to support summer missionaries for the 2001 Super Summer youth camps. The next In. D.E.P.T.H conference will be Dec. 27-28, 2001, in Topeka.
Cowling is editor of Images of the Heartland, a journal published by the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists.

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  • Randy Cowling