As I mentioned in a previous blog, we have several trainings each week here at Summer Training Project.
One training that is particularly sweet is Evangelism Training.
It’s a unique opportunity to have a training each week on the Biblical whys and hows regarding evangelism. Before STP, I don’t recall anyone ever truly explaining evangelism to me. I knew Christians were supposed to live out their faith and be a light to the world, but it’s hard to wrap one’s mind around that. It’s certainly true, but it’s vague. What does that mean? How do I do that?
This summer, Matt Reagan and Paul Poteat are the staff members giving the Evangelism Training talks. Once staff leaves this weekend, Brent Cramer, a student from Bethel and a team leader this year, will be giving the remaining talks.
During this training, we learn more about the gospel, the state of this broken and fallen world, heaven and hell, and the Biblical reasons to explicitly share our faith with people.
“I like Evangelism Training because it’s been giving me convictions about sharing my faith. I’ve always been too scared to talk to people about it, but my heart is starting to break for the lost. God uses people to spread the good news of the gospel to all nations, and he uses all believers to do so, not just a few believers with some sort of exceptional confidence,” explained one student.
After the training, the students break out in pairs and head for the beach. We simply walk around and strike up conversations with people about Jesus. Reactions certainly vary, from blatant rejection to awkward hesitancy to enthusiastic excitement about the Lord. Because we are in the ‘Bible Belt,’ people are usually willing to talk about spiritual things even if they themselves are not interested in the subject.
After spending about 45 minutes on the beach, the students meander back to Project. We break off into teams to share stories and pray for the people we encountered on the beach. Some stories are encouraging tales about meeting fellow believers and having mutually encouraging conversations about Jesus, while others are heartbreaking stories about pain, brokenness, abandonment, and complete distrust or distaste for God. It is amazing what complete strangers are willing to disclose about themselves.
Although some think evangelism on the beach is controversial, and we students can attest to the uncomfortable awkwardness, God has definitely worked through the years during beach evangelism. In fact, there have been several people who have become believers through it. Last year, a pair of students shared that they had talked to a middle-aged woman, and when they explained who they were and where they were from, her face lit up as she exclaimed, “Campus Outreach in Minnesota?! We met some of you guys last year!! Wait right here, I have to go get my husband – he became a believer after some of your group shared with him on the beach!”
What a glorious reminder that the Lord is faithful to his people and works in wonderful ways. We may never see the fruit, but God could very well be using us to plant or water (1 Corinthians 3:6).