HOUSTON (ABP) — In the shadow of the grand media extravaganza that is the Super Bowl, members of a Texas Baptist evangelism team found that less-publicized actions can have a greater impact.
Eight volunteers on the Texas Inner City Evangelism team distributed 35,000 pieces of Christian literature in Houston during the week before Super Bowl XXXVIII, held Feb. 1 at Houston's Reliant Stadium. They were trying to start spiritual conversations through which they could share the gospel with people living in the inner city, attending Super Bowl-related events and enjoying church functions.
Nearly 300 people professed Christ as Lord as a result of the team's efforts. BGCT leaders will give the new Christians' names and contact information to local churches.
God makes “divine appointments” between Christians and non-Christians, several team members said. However, they added, believers must share the gospel when those meetings occur for non-believers to come to faith.
If Christians faithfully pray and study Scripture, they will hear God telling them to share, said Mike Martin, a team member who now lives in Nashville. What to say emerges from a close relationship with God.
“I know my role in the body of Christ is an evangelist,” Martin said. “It's just natural for me to present Jesus born of a virgin, died on a cross and rose again.”
The gospel pierces the lives of humans, said John Shelton, pastor of Church on the Lot in Dallas and ICE team member. As Shelton spoke with local residents, a reporter accompanying him witnessed several sharing their struggles with things like alcoholism and drugs. Some spoke of broken families and relationships. Others were looking for hope.
“We read about changing lives in the Bible,” said Wayne Shuffield, local church consultant for the Baptist General Convention of Texas Center for Strategic Evangelism. “We say God can do it. But we are still amazed when it happens.”
While passing out evangelistic tracts downtown, Shelton encountered a shivering homeless man standing next to a convenience store. When Shelton started talking to him, the man asked to buy Shelton a cup of coffee.
As the pastor drank the coffee, the homeless man brought a homeless friend to him. Shelton led the man to Christ and gave him a Bible. The event seemingly sparked a chain reaction, and four people made professions of faith in the next 20 minutes.
The initial homeless man distributed gospel tracts and shared his faith for the rest of the afternoon.
Other outings do not produce such visible results, but team members said they are laying the groundwork for others to share the faith. The small act of handing out a tract can make an eternal difference, they said.
“There was a time I wasn't a big tract fan, but I've seen too many work,” Shelton said. “A lot of people haven't heard the simple presentation of the gospel.”
— Photos available from ABP.