SBC Life Articles

Sammy Tippit’s prayer life undergirds his evangelistic zeal

Much of Evangelist Sammy Tippit's video ministry takes place in his studio office.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (BP) — God still is calling His people to evangelism, and veteran evangelist Sammy Tippit has added identifying and encouraging new evangelists at the same time he continues proclaiming as well as training and equipping those who are drawn to God’s love through Sammy Tippit Ministries’ worldwide evangelistic outreaches.

“When I started in COSBE [Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists] in the early 1970s, there were more than 200 members,” Tippit said. “Now there are 62.”

In addition to one-on-one mentoring, Tippit leads retreats for new evangelists in the United States and elsewhere throughout the world to acquaint them with resources, best practices and fellowship with others called by God to spread His love for all people in the United States and throughout the world.

“My heart is for going to the unreached people of the world,” Tippit told SBC Life. “As an evangelist my heart burns to see revival among God’s people. … If we are going to see revival, it is going to be because God is deeply at work in our lives.”

Ministry recap

Tippit had been a Christian four years in 1969 when he stood up at an evangelism conference and implored preachers there to reach out to youth in the exploding Jesus Movement.

International Evangelist Sammy Tippit continues to preach to large crowds in open-air venues, such as this crowd of engaged listeners in Pakistan.

That statement resulted in a pastor inviting Tippit to lead a youth revival at a Monroe, La., church. Just four youth gathered in pre-event prayer, but within days crowds swelled beyond the church’s ability to seat them, and city’s mayor offered the Monroe Civic Center at no cost during the revival’s unplanned second week. 

God then sent Tippit to the highest crime area in Chicago, a communist rally in Eastern Europe, Romania when it was suffering from Christian persecution, war-torn Burundi, and Rwanda after the 1994 attempted genocide. 

In 1999, Tippit preached in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where more than 300,000 people in four days listened in an open-air stadium. Two months later, he preached in Maracanã, the world’s largest stadium, located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Tippit over the last 50 years has proclaimed the Gospel in more than 80 nations.

“It seems that doubt is the biggest enemy I face immediately before I stand to preach the Gospel: doubts about my abilities, doubts about the receptivity of the audience, and doubts whether the technology will work,” the evangelist said. “But the moment I stand and proclaim God’s Word, incredible faith rises in my heart. God intervenes and enables me to speak with great confidence and authority. By the time I’m finished, I’m exhausted but filled with awe at all that God has done.”

Technological tools

From his earliest days as an evangelist, Tippit has used the latest technology. In 1970 it was stickers with catchy phrases: Real Peace is Jesus; One Way: Jesus; Repent: Trust Jesus, and others. He had flyers made up designed to attract the attention of youth searching for meaning in their lives.

Tippit also had a knack for attracting attention, which resulted in radio, television, and newspaper articles. 

Then, in 2015, at the request of a pastor in India, he first used the computer app Skype to disciple new believers in an Indian church plant.

The effectiveness of meeting via Skype four times a week for three weeks led Tippit and the longtime board of directors of Sammy Tippit Ministries “to pursue technology and get the Gospel out through technology,” the evangelist said. 

Tippit today uses a wide variety of technological tools, 10 language-specific websites, and 13 apps for mobile devices, and 13 social media pages.

He used 51 QR codes for supplemental information in his 2018 autobiography, Unashamed: A Memoir of Dangerous Faith, one of the 18 books he has written about God’s work. Run Like a Champion, published in 2011, discusses the physical training that produces spiritual benefits.

Tippit developed a year’s worth of 3-minute devotional videos in 2019, translated them into 13 languages, and posted them to language-specific social media pages.  

During 2020, he used the messaging application WhatsApp to distribute copies for Christian WhatsApp groups of two Tippit video-based evangelistic sermons, each translated into 10 languages, to an audience of 10 million people in about 80 nations. A Christian television station broadcasting into Iran also aired the videos to an additional audience of 6 million.

“I preach every Tuesday in Italy and Wednesday in Turkey from my office,” Tippit said. “Normally I preach three to four times per week in other countries. It is out of these connections that we are developing our Digital Bible Institute to train lay leaders in prayer, revival, evangelism, and discipleship.”

If funding is achieved, the Digital Bible Institute will be operational next year, in 2023. Instructors will come from people worldwide who are hands-on proficient in the subject they are teaching.

“Pastors, churches, can use this 21st-century digital technology to supercharge discipleship and evangelism, especially in a world changed by the recent pandemic,” Tippit said. “We know we’ve had millions of people watch and listen to these messages. So, we know there’s a hunger there.

International Evangelist Sammy Tippit preaches to 300,000 Ethiopians in four days at a stadium in Addis Ababa

“We must remember that the new wave of immigrants to the U.S. come from all over the world. Thus, this training is not only beneficial for churches in other countries. I believe we can raise up a generation of new evangelists in America who are multilingual.”

Sammy Tippit Ministries creates tools to encourage churches to do the work of evangelism because of the need for Christians to spread God’s love among their family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and others with whom they have contact, the evangelist said.  

“If the churches don’t have a heart for evangelism, then there probably won’t be evangelists to come out of those local churches, and they’re needed,” Tippit said. “Therefore, we are trying to equip and provide resources for evangelism. Our websites and applications have 28 days of evangelism training and follow-up for new believers.” 

Technology, however, is but a tool, the evangelist said. Prayer is the key to God’s activity.

Prayer is key

“Normally when revival comes, historically and biblically, it comes on the wings of a person or a small group of people who pray and seek Him desperately, wanting Him to move in their hearts and in their lives,” Tippit said. “From my experience and from the Word of God, I believe the only way God visits His people in revival is when His people seek His face.”

A turning point came early in Tippit’s ministry, one morning on a hill overlooking the Louisiana state capitol, when Tippit opened his Bible and as a result entered a self-imposed ‘school of prayer.’

“As we see God moving and doing things, it is a great temptation to forget what God wants above all else is a relationship,” Tippit said. “He wants fellowship with us. He wants us to draw away into that quiet place and meet with Him and get to know Him.

“More than He wants to do something through us, He wants to spend time with us,” the evangelist continued. “He wants us to have a place where we shut out everything that is around us – even the ministry we’re doing for Him – and meet with Him. If we are going to see revival, it is going to be because God is working in our lives.”

What will it take for people in America to become desperate enough to ask God for His intervention in these days of the fear of crime, COVID-19, crippling economy and a crumbling dream for a better life tomorrow?

“As we pray for our nation, it may get darker before it gets lighter,” Tippit said. “What we need to pray for is not a deliverance from all our problems and our troubles and our economy, but from ourselves. What we need to pray for is a movement of the Spirit of God among His people, where there is brokenness, confession, repentance, forgiveness, and cleansing. In a word: revival.

“Then, with the proclamation of God’s Word, will come a great evangelistic harvest. The greatest harvests always come during periods of revival, and revival always comes on the heels of those who have been praying.”