Evangelism spills over into laundromats, auto parts stores
Fort Worth, Texas (SWBTS) -- A right turn down Seminary Drive, a left turn onto Interstate 35 and a slight veer to the right onto Highway 121, just past Fort Worth’s shiny cluster of skyscrapers will take a driver to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. From there, passengers can board planes and leave for weeks or months to travel to far away lands where they will share the good news of Christ’s sacrifice with a lost world.
A right turn down Seminary Drive, however, also leads to neighborhoods, parks, schools, gas stations, banks and malls where the local lost go about their business every day. Thanks to the obedience of the leadership at Southwestern and the willingness of those working and studying at the school, people travel the short distance to these plots of land, as well, ready to share the Gospel with an equally lost world.
Southwestern’s No Soul Left Behind, an ongoing initiative designed to reach 6,700 homes in a 1-mile radius of the school with the Gospel of Christ, has enabled and encouraged students and faculty to trek from door-to-door proclaiming the good news of Christ to people whom they drive past and live among each day.
Clarity Thoreson, who has only been studying at Southwestern for one semester, became one such student.
Thoreson hopes not to bring attention to herself but to encourage other students to be obedient in the discipline of evangelism through her testimony. She says no matter a person’s personality—be it outgoing or shy, leader or follower–Christ has commanded, not asked, Christians to proclaim the good news of His salvation.
“I am not an outgoing person by nature, but I do love the Lord with all of my heart,” Thoreson says.
“God’s word says in [Christ’s] commission to His followers, before He ascended back to the Father, He says to ‘go and make disciples of all the nations,’ and part of making disciples is sharing the message that salvation is found through Christ. So part of obeying that command to make disciples is to be a witness and to share your faith.”
During her first semester at Southwestern, Thoreson took Introduction to Missiology, which included a missions practicum. Through this class, Thoreson says she learned how to share the Gospel, first by observation and then by practice.
“The very first time that a group of students went out, we went with Dr. Eitel, and I was just amazed to see him, how he interacted with people,” the Master of Arts in Missiology student says. “It was very brief encounters, but the thing I recognized most about him was he had a true love for everybody that he talked with.”
That true love and passion for sharing the greatest news on earth with perishing people, Thoreson says, proved the saying, “evangelism is caught, not taught,” to be true in her own life. Soon after she began observing Eitel and others share the Gospel, she began sharing on her own.
“I began going to the laundromat,” Thoreson says. “Sometimes I would sit there for an hour just praying, ‘God, please give me someone or open up the door.’ And every time I went, it might be at the very end, but He would always give me someone. I felt so nervous usually, but I would strike up conversations, just introduce myself to them, try to be loving toward them. God would help me to share the Gospel, and I did.”
And then she continued to share, joining an evangelism team at her church that visited refugee apartments each Sunday where Thoreson has seen more people come to turn away from their sins and their false gods and to accept the One, True God.
Yet, she does not only share the Gospel when she sets aside time to go out and evangelize.
“The second opportunity I had to share with someone and he wanted to pray to receive Christ, it was just kind of an ‘as I was going’ thing,” Thoreson says. “I had to have the headlight changed in my car, so I went to an auto parts place, and while [the clerk] was changing out the headlight in my car, I just felt God prompting me to share the Gospel. I shared the Gospel with him, and he also wanted to pray to receive Christ. It just floors me every time.”
Like any other discipline, Thoreson says, evangelism requires work and intentionality.
“You have to prepare yourself for it,” she says. “Yes, God’s Holy Spirit is going to go before you, it’s going to be in His power that the person is convicted, and it’s going to be in His power that you share, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t take some responsibility to, on your own, prepare as much as you can.”
In the end, she says, whether the presentation sounds polished or not, whether the person sharing feels nervous or not, and whether people hearing the message respond well or not, the results belong to the Lord.
“We just have to be obedient to God, share the Gospel and leave the results to Him,” Thoreson says.