Three professions of faith resulted as more than 160 New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College students, staff and faculty went into New Orleans neighborhoods to serve and share the gospel on Serve Day, Sept. 22.
Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, and former SBC president, preached in chapel that morning, then led an evangelism team sharing the gospel in the seminary’s neighborhood.
“Serve Day is one of our favorite days each semester,” said Tara Dew, wife of President Jamie Dew. The couple and their four children helped at City Life Nola, a multi-faceted ministry with an outreach to the homeless community.
The seminary teams prayer walked, fed the homeless, cared for nursing home residents, and shared the gospel.
At a grocery center next to the seminary, a prayer walking team led one person to faith in Christ and prayed with others who shared prayer needs. Two came to faith as a result of door-to-door evangelism.
“When God brings us out of our normal routines or comfort zones, He reminds us of His faithful love and the need for hope in a hurting world,” Tara Dew said. “There is something so sweet about watching your kids love those who are often overlooked and marginalized, passing out water bottles and bagged lunches to those experiencing homelessness.”
In chapel that morning, Jamie Dew reminded listeners of the importance of living out the faith through service to others. Dew said, “We have an opportunity today ‘to put our money where our mouth is.’”
Gaines drew from Ephesians 6 in his chapel address and said the church today faces a spiritual battle as evidenced by culture’s “anxiety, hatred, anger and discouragement.”
“You can’t defeat the forces of darkness in your own strength,” Gaines cautioned. He added, “You can’t do anything—and I can’t either—apart from the power of Christ.”
Blake Newsom, director of the NOBTS Caskey Center for Church Excellence, said the evangelism teams saw a community hungry for hope as they encountered grieving families and those impacted by crime.
“[Going door-to-door] was pastoring,” Newsom said. “We got to share the gospel and hope with lost people and provide a word of encouragement and comfort for those who needed it on a rough day.”
The Caskey Center trains students to share the gospel weekly and provides scholarships so students have the financial freedom to serve on church staffs and engage in intentional evangelism while in seminary.
Newsom said his team shared with a five-man construction crew working in the neighborhood.
“To a person, every single one of them said, ‘This didn’t happen by accident; God sent you here to talk to me,’” Newsom said.
At the Baptist Friendship House (BFH), directed by Send Relief missionary Kay Bennett, team members organized and sorted supplies and goods. The ministry near the French Quarter serves women and children in transition, provides backpacks of personal items to the homeless community, and partners with other agencies to aid those trapped in human trafficking.
"We so often talk about the importance of serving our city, and today, as Dr. Dew mentioned in chapel, we had a chance to ‘put our money where our mouth is,’” said Cody Moore, Spiritual Formation Assistant and organizer of the day’s activities.
Moore pointed to the seminary’s motto of “Prepare Here. Serve Anywhere” to explain that serving others is a key part of preparing for the gospel ministry.
“One of the most important pieces that goes into ‘Preparing Here’ is serving here,” Moore said. “Today we were able to do that and the Lord was faithful.”