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Students use unorthodox methods to harvest souls

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Randy Smith wanted his students to catch a glimpse of fields that are white unto harvest.

To make the point, the Boyce College professor kept a harvest field constantly within the vision of the 75 students who composed his personal evangelism class at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s undergraduate program.

A corkboard separated into three sections adorned the wall that his class faced each day. The three sections were separately marked, in order from left to right, “Harvest Field,” “Evangelized,” and “Harvested.” Pinned to each section were dozens of small purple and orange slips of paper, each with a student’s name attached to that of a lost relative, friend or acquaintance.

The object was to get the lost person from the Harvest Field section to the Harvested category. To move from the Harvest Field section to the Evangelized section, a student had to pray for and share the gospel with the lost person. That person was then moved into the Harvested section when he or she became a Christian.

“Every day in class we start off by asking them [students] if there has been any movement in the harvest board,” Smith said. “We also pray for these individuals every day before class. We are trying to get students to put to use the skills they use in class in sharing the gospel.”

The class put its evangelism training to use outside of the classroom. Earlier in the semester, 36 students from Smith’s class divided up into 12 teams of three persons and undertook different kinds of evangelism efforts throughout Louisville.

One group gave free car and window washes at a self-service gas station and sought opportunities to establish relationships and share the gospel. Another group went door-to-door, passing out free light bulbs and smoke alarm batteries.

Others prepared a survey and went to downtown Louisville and used the survey for opportunities to interact and evangelize the lost. A music team set up on the riverfront of the Ohio River, then sang choruses and shared Christ with interested passersby.

“We contacted 220 people in all and we were able to go through with the complete presentation of the gospel with 55 people,” Smith said. “Five accepted Christ, and all were adults or teenagers.

“For some of them [students] it was their first time to witness, their first time to lead someone to Christ and so it was a neat experience. This type of evangelism was confrontation evangelism as opposed to relationship evangelism, [both of which] we teach in class. Relationship evangelism is the type we use for our harvest board. … confrontation is where you go out and meet somebody for the first time.”

Smith, who served as a youth pastor for more than 30 years, said he taught his students more than 30 different methods for doing personal evangelism. The harvest board was the latest, one which he began in August.

“Randy’s passion for personal evangelism surpasses anything I have ever seen, and I have been around ministry and ministers for many years,” said Ed Stucky, a Townsend, Tenn., native who was a member of the class during the fall semester. “The practical aspects of that class were its strong points because it forced students to execute the materials they had studied in the classroom.”

So far, 12 slips of paper have been moved from the harvest field to the harvested (saved) realm. Smith said that about 65 percent of the class had shared the gospel with another person before taking the class. About half the class had actually led someone to Christ, but only 20 percent had discipled a young believer, he said.

“That’s one thing I’d like to add to the board in the future — discipleship,” he said. “The main goal of all this is discipleship, not just evangelism.”

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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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