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Oklahoma Baptists celebrate Summer Evangelism Team’s success

A team consisting of three college students, Graeson Griffin, Erica Reed and Cody Tooley, began this summer slightly nervous, but expectant, of what the Lord would do through the Summer Evangelism Team.

An eight-week partnering program between the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) and Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) helped equip and mobilize the team, which visited eight communities. They worked side-by-side with churches doing door-to-door evangelism and hosting evangelistic events. They visited Davis, First; Red Oak, Bethel; Vian in East Central Association; Alex, Southern Chapel; Shidler, The Church; Elk City, Eastside; and Kingston, First.

“Our expectations were far exceeded,” Mike Napier, BGCO personal evangelism specialist, said about the pioneering efforts of the college students sharing the Gospel across Oklahoma this summer.

OBU hosted a celebration ceremony, Aug. 23, as Griffin, Tooley and Reed took time to celebrate how the Lord moved in summer ’17. Napier, along with David Whitlock, OBU president, joined the celebration with Anthony L. Jordan, BGCO executive director-treasurer; Brian Baldwin, BGCO student ministries specialist; Scott Pace, OBU chairman of the Christian ministry department; Heath Thomas, dean of the OBU’s college of theology and ministry; Stan Norman, OBU provost and Bettsy Yarbrough, BGCO evangelism ministry assistant.

“We saw a little bit of everything when it comes to people,” Griffin said. “We saw white collar, blue collar, unemployed, stuck in addiction, and we also saw everything in terms of lostness.”

“We were shocked to see that people in our very own state had never heard the Gospel,” said Tooley.

Griffin, Tooley and Reed also saw the Lord move in ways they hadn’t previously experienced. One man they visited had hit rock-bottom days before the three showed up on his doorstep. He had some knowledge of the Bible, that the Lord was his only hope, and told the team that he had accepted Christ two days prior to their meeting. But he needed to know what steps to take next.

In another town, the Evangelism Team visited a home of a woman who was broken. She had been training to be a sniper for the military her whole life and sustained injuries in a training exercise, resulting in her being honorably discharged. When the team met her and shared the hope of Jesus, she made a profession of faith in Christ.

Perhaps the most radical of changed lives came when the team joined forces with Bob Cherry in Red Oak. They visited a man who experienced a series of unfortunate and life-altering events.  Grieving over the loss of a son, as well as losing his job, he was thrown into a deep depression.

For years, no one had seen him in the community. For months the man hadn’t even left his house, with the church secretary leaving food on his doorstep to make sure he ate.

Then, Cherry and the Summer Evangelism Team knocked on his door. After explaining to him that the only way out of his depression was through Jesus, the man made a profession of faith in Christ.

Later that week, at the Red Dot Laser Tag youth event the Evangelism Team hosted, this man appeared in public for the first time in years.

“I want to applaud the spirit in which you took this project on,” Jordan said to the team. “The pattern you have set for others and the impact you have left on those churches and communities is exciting. We’re going to build on what you have done and see revival in smaller churches across Oklahoma.”

“The harvest is plentiful” in Oklahoma, as the work of a few helped change many lives eternally through the Summer Evangelism Team. Together in Christ, the BGCO and OBU look forward to celebrating many summers down the road from the  Summer Evangelism Teams’ success.

Emily Howsden

Author: Emily Howsden

Emily Howsden is a staff writer for the Baptist Messenger.

View more articles by Emily Howsden.

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