Random Acts of Kindness During the Pandemic “Evangelism is a lifestyle. It’s the way we handle ourselves every single day,” says Bryan Arvelo, former student of theology at Southern Adventist University. “People oftentimes think that evangelism is an event — a series of meetings throughout a few weeks. But in reality, evangelism is the opportunity we have every day to reach other folks, whether at the grocery store, at church or wherever we are.”
And evangelism is what the Southern Adventist University Field School, and the young students who participated in it, set out to do. The Field School program involved 15-20 students who traveled to Greensboro, NC, in April of this year to learn and participate in public evangelism. The students were paired up and sent to a church in the area to present an evangelistic series.
“We all study theology, and we’re passionate about the gospel, about sharing Jesus Christ with everybody that we know,” shares Joslen Lache.
The students presented 19 different sermons over about three and a half weeks. During that time they also had the opportunity to take a class.
“Now, this isn’t just any ordinary class. We’re not just doing random projects and homework assignments,” says Arvelo. “But we’re actually learning how to do evangelism better.”
An area-wide event such as this one really connects community members to the church. During the time that we live in — with all the confusion, disasters, and problems — people have questions, and sometimes they don’t know where to look to find answers.
“I think that having an event like this will let them know there is a reason why this is going on,” says Nate Nelson. “And we have the answer.”
The teams of students were trained by Roger Hernandez, ministerial and evangelism director for the Southern Union. He presented the series in Greensboro, then led out in the training classes during the afternoons. The students then traveled in teams to area churches to put into practice what they’d learned.
And people are making decisions. “Now, maybe we’re not seeing hundreds of folks being baptized every weekend,” continues Arvelo, “but we get to see that one person. We get to see those several folks who are deciding to follow Jesus as their Savior. And that’s why the goal of this event is so important.”
Each student had a different reason for coming to the Field School, but all of them held the goal of showing the love of Christ to people who are confused, searching, and lost in the haze of this sinful world.
“I’d say my goal is to share Jesus, and in the process of sharing Him, I feel like I also am blessed and I grow through the process,” shares Ryan Walker. “So then, as I become a pastor, wherever I might go, I can take this experience with me and and do the same.”
Many times we make a pledge or sign a check and place it in the offering plate and pray for those these funds to be used to reach people for the kingdom of God. But you really don’t see what happens next. Sometimes you don’t even know if it’s going to make a difference. You give $5, $10, $15 and think, ‘is this really going to make a difference?’ But what you’re doing is turning money into practical action to reach people with Jesus’ love. And this evangelism Field School is one of those things.
“But … I believe that … the only way that we can get evangelism to work is if we not only had the money — because the money is going to be there, God’s going to provide the money — but God cannot make people want to get involved in it,” continues Nelson. “And...of the different people that I’ve talked to, I said, what’s the hardest thing you’ve encountered about evangelism? They’ve all came out with the same thing. It’s not the money. It’s getting the people, our members, involved in wanting to do evangelism. It’s getting our members to come back to our churches, to come out of their shells, to come out of their homes and get involved with it.”
Nelson asks, “Are we ready to fill these churches up? Because the time has come when the Holy Spirit is going to be poured out in its fullness and there’s going to be people preaching and these churches are going to be calling these people out. Are we ready for that?”
“We need to be ready,” concludes Arvelo. “We’ve got to see that God is wanting to work in our hearts. And that’s what evangelism is all about. It’s a reflection of our relationship with Jesus. That’s what evangelism is.”
—Rebecca Carpenter. Photos by Henrique Gomes.