RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (BP)–In this suburb of Savannah, where First Baptist Church, Richmond Hill, is determined to reach out to a growing community, Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch told of two Florida retirees who used chainsaws and Bible verses in disaster relief after Hurricane Charley to lead 28 people to Christ.
“That’s what we’re talking about,” Welch said. “Would you try to do that?”
Welch was making the second stop on the Aug. 29 inauguration of the national bus tour he has launched to help generate a sense of urgency about evangelism among Southern Baptists. Currently headed up the eastern seaboard, the tour is a kickoff for “The Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge for Evangelism” campaign which has the goal of “Witness, Win and Baptize … ONE MILLION!” in one year.
Welch’s message to the Sunday evening congregation in Georgia revolved around the simple, three-letter word “try” –- reflecting his own spiritual walk when it comes to matters of evangelism and discipleship.
“Eternity’s in the balance, and you can try!” Welch said in underscoring his passion in Savannah, a passion he also voiced in opening the bus tour that morning at First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, where he has been the pastor for 30 years.
It may sound simple, but Southern Baptists need to grasp the full meaning of what Welch is saying, said Mike Minnix, vice president of evangelism for the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Efforts to bolster soul-winning in Georgia, he noted, include a focus “simple tools that they can use to try. For example, in a restaurant, before praying for a meal, you can stop the waitress or waiter and say, ‘We’re going to pray over our meal. Is there anything we can pray for you about?’ We have found that almost inevitably they’ll say yes. It opens the door to show that we care and we’re praying for you. It’s opened a lot of doors for evangelism for us.”
A large group of First Richmond Hill people went out on visitation Sunday night, resulting in at least one profession of faith in Christ. Welch used a prayer strategy to communicate Christ with a man and a woman outside two separate homes. As he confidently strolled up to the doorway, he simply said the local church was praying over every home in the neighborhood. He then asked the homeowners if he could pray for something in their lives. He used the fingers of his hand to tell them about Jesus through Forgiveness, Available, Impossible, Turn (repentance) and Heaven — the acronym FAITH. A full FAITH presentation usually takes about seven or eight minutes, but Welch quickly discerned that both of the adults he talked to were Christians.
“People want their homes prayed over,” Welch explained. “That is a good, earnest inroad, and I believe God will bless us praying over these homes.”
Welch said that the heart of his message to the Southern Baptist churches he will be visiting in the remaining 48 states will be the story of the little boy who gave the five barley loaves and two fishes to Jesus (John 6:9). That little boy tried, Welch said. The outcome of that little boy trying was a situation in which Jesus gave a huge crowd as much as they wanted (John 6:11).
Might God do the same for Southern Baptists who are trying to witness to, win and baptize one million?
“He did a lot with those fish and loaves,” Welch said.