Wearing jeans and a tee-shirt reading “From the Parishes to All People,” Jamie Dew, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary president, welcomed SBC president Bart Barber as speaker in chapel for the NOBTS Serve Day, April 13, when students go out to serve and minister around the city.
At least three professions of faith resulted as 185 students, staff, faculty members and trustees—joined by Barber, his wife and daughter—shared the gospel and served in the community. The group represented the largest number of participants to date for the once-a-semester event.
Dew’s tee-shirt with the NOBTS Global Mission Center tagline reminded listeners that believers are called to take the gospel out from Louisiana’s parishes (counties) to all nations.
“There’s nothing out there [in the world] that will ever give us hope. There’s only brokenness and there’s only sorrow and there’s only destruction,” Dew said. “[But], Jesus is sweet … As people who have tasted that redemption and have a burden for the brokenness out there, we go out into that.”
Evangelism teams shared the gospel on the streets and door-to-door. Others prayer walked, ministered to the homeless community, served at a nursing home and at the Baptist Friendship House, a home for women in transition.
“I always enjoy Serve Day because it really is a reflection of our true culture at NOBTS and Leavell College,” said Thomas Strong, vice president of spiritual formation and student life. “We aren't a group of individuals who serve when we have a special day. It is a part of who we are—we are servants and we are preparing servants.”
In his chapel message, Barber drew from Luke 12:27-38 to show that serving others is “both eschatological and theological.” Barber encouraged students to serve that day “with heaven in mind.”
Barber explained that because believers can depend on God for the final closing of history, they can feel free to invest in others’ lives. He added that believers must be prepared to serve others by taking up Christ’s attitude, as shown in Philippians 2, and that serving others is the way to remain alert for Christ’s return.
Believers are called to be servants to all, even those whose circumstances are of their own making, Barber said. He added, “Don’t just keep that in mind for today. Let us resolve to hide it in our hearts.”
Opportunities to share the gospel came as teams prayer walked through neighborhoods.
“I saw God use the NOBTS students as His hands and feet,” said Shannon Brown, NOBTS trustee. “We went out to prayer walk, but they also used the opportunities that God gave to pray with people, share the gospel, and even help an older woman that lives alone with her yard work. God’s timing was perfect.”
Mar’krisseanna Span, an M.Div. student, shared the gospel with a couple on their porch where the man was an atheist and the woman identified as a believer. The woman expressed surprise that the NOBTS team had come to the neighborhood. When Span followed up with the woman later, the woman told Span she had gone into her house and thanked God the NOBTS team had come, Span related.
Some prospective students who had arrived early for the Campus Preview Day also participated.
David-Lane Wilkinson, a senior at the University of Mississippi, arrived a day early for Preview Day and joined a Serve Day team when he learned the team was going out to share the gospel. Wilkinson’s team went into New Orleans’ French Quarter and was led by a student who regularly shares the gospel there.“People saw [the student] and recognized him and called out to him,” Wilkinson said. “The idea that students are regularly doing this and that they are building relationships and are able to share, that’s cool.”