FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Dusty Marshall learned an important lesson during a spring break preaching assignment: When Satan is up to something, God is up to something greater.
Marshall was one of 87 students and faculty from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary who participated in the annual “Revive This Nation” initiative, leading revival services in churches from New York to Hawaii during the seminary’s March 11-14 spring break.
Among their reports:
Things hadn’t gone so well, until….
Dusty Marshall, a master of divinity student, encountered multiple hardships before and during the revival meetings he led in Ohio.
On his way to the airport with an Uber driver, someone threw rancid milk and coffee on the car’s windshield. The driver said she had never experienced such a thing in her three years with Uber.
When Marshall arrived at the airport, he was directed to the wrong gate, a mistake he noticed almost too late. Fortunately, he managed to make his flight, arriving at the correct gate just as boarding had begun.
On the flight, the person sitting next to him put headphones on and went to sleep. Sensing that the door had closed for a Gospel conversation, Marshall decided to rest as well. Halfway through the flight, he was awakened when his seatmate grabbed the bag in front of her and “emptied the contents of her stomach inside of that bag.”
Upon landing at his destination in Ohio, Marshall shared his experiences with the pastor of the church to which he had been assigned, and they laughed and prayed while waiting for Marshall’s luggage. His luggage, however, was not to be found. The help desk informed Marshall that his luggage was on another flight that would be arriving in three hours.
As the two waited for the second flight, Marshall received a phone call from his wife informing him that she was losing her job that had been helping pay for Marshall’s schooling as well as “make ends meet.” The pastor encouraged Marshall to return home, but after being assured that Marshall’s friends and neighbors were taking care of his wife back home, he decided to stay and preach the revival as he had intended, trusting that God could work in spite of the difficulties.
Following Marshall’s first sermon the following morning, no one responded to the invitation. That evening, the pastor did not show up at the service. The pastor’s wife informed Marshall that he had fallen ill. Despite the pastor’s absence, the service proceeded, and still, no one responded to the invitation.
The following morning, Marshall learned that the pastor had been taken to the emergency room late the previous night, returning home at 3 a.m. diagnosed with pneumonia. “What else could possibly go wrong?” Marshall thought to himself. “How could all of these things possibly happen?”
That night, the pastor mustered enough strength to attend the service, and Marshall preached his third of five sermons, and again no one responded.
Marshall admitted he was “a little discouraged” at that point. “All I know is that I can rely on God and I can pray, I can research the Word, and we can go out and do what we can,” he recounted during a subsequent chapel service at Southwestern.
On Tuesday evening, this reliance on the Lord was rewarded: In response to Marshall’s invitation at the end of his sermon, a young man named Kevin answered a call to ministry.
“He believes God has placed on his heart that he’s meant to go into ministry, and he’s meant to serve God,” Marshall said. “At that moment, I was pumped. … I didn’t care that all of those bad things had happened. God had moved in a young man’s life, and he knew that he was supposed to serve Him.
“I couldn’t think of anything else greater than that,” Marshall said. “I could leave a happy man knowing that God had used me and blessed me to have that opportunity.”
But God was not done working in the Ohio church. On Wednesday night, following Marshall’s final sermon, six people came forward, admitted their need to be cleansed from their sin and rededicated their lives to Christ. They further committed to reach their city, which though challenging, is not beyond God’s power and sovereignty.
“So if you ever have an opportunity to preach the Word and reach the world, I want to encourage you [to] take that opportunity,” Marshall said, because God may bring revival “that you never thought possible.”
It was only his 2nd sermon — and his first in English
When Marko Juricek stepped into the pulpit to preach on the first day of his “Revive This Nation” evangelism assignment, he had only preached once before, and had done so in his native language, Croatian. So, this sermon — delivered to a congregation is Las Cruces, N.M. — would be his second-ever sermon and his first in English.
“I was a little bit nervous,” said Juricek, an M.Div. student. “Actually, I was freaking out.”
Prior to that Sunday morning, Juricek had shared his unease with the church’s pastor. The pastor told him, “You know what, brother? If the only point of this is for you to get experience, we are good with that.”
The pastor told Juricek that his hope for the revival was that his people would be encouraged. An older congregation of roughly 60 individuals, the church currently lacks any young families with children. Planted 30 years ago, the church now sits adjacent to a trailer park filled with people who need to know the Lord.
The pastor acknowledged the church’s potential and essentially asked that Juricek give them a proper push.
On Sunday morning, after Juricek proclaimed the Word of the Lord in spite of his nerves, a woman approached him and said that she sensed the Lord calling her to full-time vocational ministry. One of the church’s deacons, currently in the military, told him the same thing the following night. With counsel from Juricek, this deacon is now exploring the possibility of enrolling in Southwestern Seminary.
Juricek was encouraged by these results, and God was also granting him and church members opportunities to speak with residents of the trailer park adjacent to the church prior to the evening services each day. But going into Tuesday, the church had still not seen anyone come to faith in Christ during the revival.
Following the Tuesday night service, as Juricek greeted members of the congregation, he noticed his wife speaking to two teenagers — a girl and a boy. He went over to them, and his wife said, “We have great news. She received the Lord yesterday after the service. And this young man just did the same.”
In witnessing the two salvations as well as two people accepting the call to ministry, Juricek realized that God had blessed the revival — and he had overcome his anxiety in the process.
“This is great what happened. But I hope that they were able to catch their purpose and their identity that they have, which is to be a light to that neighborhood.”