A full-scale six-week evangelistic series is conducted by the School of Religion each summer, under the auspices of the Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Most summers, students also have the option to participate in a three-week evangelistic series in an overseas campaign. All theology majors, in the summer after their junior year, are required to participate in one such field school.
Students planning to take the summer field school program must have:
Earned 55 semester credit hours.
A 2.50 cumulative grade point average.
Taken Intermediate Biblical Preaching, Personal Evangelism II, and Evangelistic Preaching.
Be accepted as a ministerial trainee in order to be approved for participation in field school.
Obtained applications and information from the field school coordinator.
Main Site Evangelist
In 1995 Evangelist Mark Finley started the era of satellite evangelism in Chattanooga, TN. Other Adventist evangelists rapidly picked up this modern form of evangelism. Eleven years later, after more than one hundred satellite evangelistic meetings and an estimated one million baptisms, Finley returned to the birthplace of satellite evangelism to hold a field school of evangelism for Southern Adventist University students and pastors, as well as lay evangelists from all over the world.
Finley’s Revelation of Hope meetings were held in the Chattanooga Convention Center from May 19 to June 24. While the meetings were not up-linked to other sites via satellite, field school students preached the same sermons at 13 satellite locations in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina. Students also attended Finley’s meetings and spent Tuesdays and Wednesdays in class with Mark and Teenie Finley and other instructors.
Students and pastors involved were Jonathan Arroyo, working with Pastor Richard Perkins in Andrews, NC; Bob McAlpine and Pastor Leon Smith in Austell, GA; Matt Lucio and Pastor Sam Ball in Cedartown, GA; David Beihl and Pastor Wendell Stover in Chatsworth, GA; Eric Kerr and Pastor Todd Leonard in Cherokee, GA; Ben Shurtliff and Pastor Jeremy Arnall in Crossville, TN; Gilman Lee and Pastor George Pangman in Fayetteville, GA; Jason Vanderlaan and Pastor Bill Mitchell in Bryant, AL; Cory Herthel and Pastor Dan Thompson in Guntersville, AL; Scott Andrews and Pastor Richard Perkins in Murphy, NC; and Matt Smith and Pastor Bill Mitchell at Owenby Chapel, AL. Nathan Krause and Pierre Monice shared the preaching in the meetings at the Cartersville, GA, church.
Marlon Costa, a Brazilian student fluent in Portuguese and English, experienced a modern manifestation of the gift of tongues as he preached a Spanish series in Dunlap, TN, where he worked with pastor Ronald Follett. Dr. Ron Clouzet, dean of SAU’s School of Religion, worked closely with Marlon throughout the series, helping him with sermon preparation and visitation. Clouzet also coordinated the field school for the first two weeks; Dr. Douglas Jacobs was the coordinator for the last three weeks. Southern Union Director of Church Growth Ralph Ringer, and Dave Penno, the Evangelism Church Preparation Specialist for the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, provided valuable supervision to students, and coordination Finley with pastors and churches. SAU field school students had the privilege of leading 47 souls to a profession of faith and/or baptism into the Adventist church. Pastors are still working with many additional interested people who came to their meetings.
Both students and local pastors felt the experience was invaluable. Ben Shurtliff who preached in a former "Oshkosh B’Gosh" children’s store in an outlet mall in Crossville, TN, says, “Field school this summer confirmed my call to ministry and impressed me with the sense of urgency for evangelism. I experienced the cycle of evangelism and witnessed first-hand the group effort it requires.”
Pastor Jeremy Arnall, the pastor of the church in Crossville, confirms the validity of the field school experience: “It was refreshing to work with a college student whose contagious enthusiasm inspired me to see the impossible as possibilities. Our core group of ten new members is still going strong, with a major follow-up event planned in a couple of weeks."
While only one field school was held in 2006 so that all students could work with Mark Finley, in 2007 the schedule will revert to the normal pattern of one U.S. field school and one overseas field school. The 2007 U.S. field school will be held in Mobile, Alabama, where evangelist Jac Colon will lead our students in evangelistic training. Again, students will conduct their own meetings alongside a seasoned soul winner. Possible sites for the overseas field school include locations in India, Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
More than 4,500 and Still Counting!
In 2001, the School of Religion began requiring religion students to preach a full evangelistic series before graduation. After five seasons, the Robert H. Pierson Institute of Evangelism and World Missions has organized seven series abroad and four at home. Four more have taken place under the auspices of the Southern Union, resulting in more than 4,500 baptisms—most of them due to students’ efforts.
Dr. Carlos Martín went to Madagascar in December 2004 to make sure that churches pastors, and administrators understood that Southern meant business. It was a marathon of committee meetings, training sessions, and church visitation. At the end, he preached to a crowd of more than ten thousand. In March 2005, a team of five Southern students went to Madagascar to preach eight evangelistic sermons during their spring break. Several churches organized small groups to cultivate the interests generated in these meetings.
The Summer 2005 Madagascar evangelistic team consisted of twenty members—14 undergraduate and graduate students; three pastors and three lay persons, two of which were accompanied by their wives. Four of the speakers were women. Seventeen of the twenty evangelists preached every night. On Friday, May 27, they preached the first of a series o nineteen doctrinal sermons. The Pierson Institute funds covered all of the expenses related to tickets, food, and lodging for all student evangelists. Every morning, Dr. Martín offered classes and reviewed the progress of each site. For lunch, the team walked about thirty minutes to the Indian Ocean Union headquarters. The afternoon was dedicated to sermon preparation and visitation.
The team members’ favorite time was in the evening after the meetings when they met at the hotel to share the day’s news, watch sermon recordings, compare experiences, laugh together, and a late snack. Virtually the only topic of conversation heard during meal times was evangelism—whether in stories, cultural experiences, or lessons learned (many through mistakes). It was very exciting to see the students’ radiant faces as all reported of altar calls and decisions.
The evangelists soon discovered that all sites shared several characteristics: all churches had excellent music (mostly choirs); during the first week some sites had over 700 people in attendance but nobody had less than 300; and all had worshipers standing, watching through windows or on monitors in another room. Some congregations moved out of their churches into tents in order to accommodate the may people attending. Several had the problem of not having room for altar calls because the chairs reached all the way to the platform. Not less than one-third of the attendees in the average church were composed of visitors; and in many cases, about half of those who attended were non-members. All sites had a high attendance of children who sat together, paid serious attention to the presentations, and behaved amazingly well. In most churches, pews did not have back supports.
All preachers were provided with a laptop computer and a video projector. The graphics on the screen were in Malagasy, the local dialect; but on the laptop the preachers were able to read the sermon notes in English. While the translator spoke, preachers were able to take a look at the next sermon sentence.
As the end of the series approached, reports on decision increased day by day. On the last Sabbath, there was a great gathering of more than fifteen thousand people. It was thrilling to see hundreds of people dressed in white baptismal gowns. At the end of the morning service, 680 had been baptized. More than 300 responded for baptism at the end of the ceremony. By early August, 125 more had also been baptized. If the 188 who were baptized between spring break and the summer series were counted, the Madagascar series ended with 993 baptisms.
Robby doss, an Education major, said, “I’m a Middle-School Education major at Southern Adventist University, so I’m not a pastor or a preacher, but I’ve found that I can go and do this as well. You don’t have to have a degree in evangelism or theology. I think anyone can go and do this—nurses, education or computer majors, anyone. All you need is to be willing.” The School of Religion aims to train future pastors who will know by experience what evangelism is all about, even before graduation—but we also plan to involve others as well. We hope that based on Robbie’s experience, many non-Religion majors will accept an invitation to share in the blessings. As they pray receive training, and share Jesus with others, Southern may expect to see a revival in many students’ lives.
The School of Religion conducted one of its two summer evangelistic field school in the greater Lexington, Kentucky region from May 12 through June 18, 2005. Ten students were involved in conducting five simultaneous evangelistic meetings. Elder Steve Bauer, Associate Professor of Religion, coordinated the field school with Southern Union evangelist, Elder Ralph Ringer.
A special feature of this field school was having churches from two conferences join forces for a common evangelistic thrust. In both Lexington and Frankfort, the churches from the South Central and Kentucky-Tennessee Conferences joined in common cause under the leadership of Pastors Melvin Hayden, III (South Central) and Don Jehle (KY-TN). In Lexington, the Lane Allen Road English and Spanish churches (KY-TN) and Lima Drive English and Spanish churches (South Central) worked together in a joint meeting. Pastors Marco Barrera (KY-TN) and Samuel Peguero (South Central) supported the joint effort tin ministry to those who speak Spanish.
Ralph Ringer was the speaker for the Lexington Meetings, held downtown in the Lexington Center. Four students (Jonathan Davidson, Jonathan Russell, Jonathan Peinado, and Cleon Walker) and two volunteers (Jaclyn Russell and Scott Hakes) assisted evangelist Ralph Ringer with visitation, music, and running the Bible School that was connected to the meetings. Marco Barrera provided live simultaneous Spanish translation through FM radio equipment, while the visual aids were projected on separate screens in English and Spanish.
There were three other satellite meetings held in concert with the Lexington site. These meetings were conducted by six students under the supervision of the local pastor. In Kentucky’s capital city, Frankfurt, separate meetings were held in both English and Spanish. As in Lexington, the English meetings were produced through a joint effort by churches from both conferences, under the leadership of Pastor Hayden and Jehle. In a similar spirit, the English meetings were conducted jointly by student evangelists John Wiltenburg and K. C. Anyalebechi, with the meetings being held in the South Central church building. The Spanish meetings met in the Kentucky-Tennessee English church building and were conducted by Jaime Pombo, with supervision by Pastor Barrera.
The third satellite meeting was held in Lawrenceburg, KY, twenty minutes south of Frankfurt. Student evangelist Eric Hagan conducted the meetings with supervision from Pastor Eric Carter. The fourth satellite meeting was held 30 minutes south of Lexington in the city of Richmond, KY. Student evangelists Roger Becker and Bobby Weldy conducted the meetings there, under the supervision of Pastor Darryl Crane.
The churches and pastors welcomed the meetings and students, providing attendance, food and housing for them. The meetings concluded with 40 baptisms and four professions of faith, totaling 44 souls won. Another 15-20 potential baptismal candidates are in follow-up studies.
57 Baptisms at Florida Field School
A dozen students helped baptize more than 57 new members at the 2004 Southern Adventist University Florida Field School, May 15 - June 19. More will follow among the 30 addtional interests who made commitments for baptism and 20 others who continued in separate Bible study classes. It is anticipated that baptisms could swell to 75 or higher as a result of the 11 evangelistic meetings conducted during this year's field school.
Evangelist Ralph Ringer, director of church growth/evangelism training for the Southen Union Conference, spoke at the main meeting in Port St. Lucie. Three Southern students–Brad Whitsett, Chris Rafey and Greg Creek–assisted him, while nine others conducted satellite meetings in churches from West Palm Beach to Okeechobee.
The satellite field school concept was pioneered last year in Port Charlotte, Florida. Meetings were held in ten different locations, resulting in 110 baptisms. Dr. Douglas Jacobs, associate professor at SAU and coordinator of the 2004 Field School, says that the new approach produces experienced evangelists eager to continue winning souls.
In a traditional field school, students work with one large evangelistic meeting–attending classes in the morning, visiting in the afternoon and helping with the meetings at night. In the new approach, students still attend morning classes and one or two nights a week at the main meeting; but many also conduct their own evangelistic series three or four nights a week in a participating area church. Advertising for all the meetings is combined for maximum benefit.
Port St. Lucie is one of the fastest-growing areas of Florida . The main meeting, sponsored by the Fort Pierce and Mid-Port churches, attracted 500 people to the opening meeting at the Port St. Lucie Community Center. Evangelist Ringer's presentations featured three screens with English, Spanish and French graphics. Translators provided simultaneous translation into Spanish and French.
Student meetings were held in three languages. Speaking in English were Brent Wilson, Okeechobee; Vincent Saunders and Lenora Muse, Palm Springs; graduate student Mark Swearingen and David Williams, West Palm Beach ; and Shawn Lathrom who spoke in English in the Jupiter church sanctuary, while lay preacher Isabel Ferras held Spanish meetings in the fellowship hall.
Students conducting meetings in Spanish were Jorge Quintiana, Northwood Spanish group; Morgan Kochenower, who spoke through a translator in Okeechobee; and Abraham Francisco in Indiantown. Pastor Eliezer Diaz worked with Abraham Francisco in Indiantown, while holding his own series in Vero Beach , where 13 people were baptized and nine interests await baptism.
Several students who participated in the 2003 Field School had such a positive experience that they returned to assist in the 2004 meetings. Keith and Dominique Wakefield helped Ringer in the main meetings, where Keith ran the computerized registration system and Dominique directed the Bible School , which offered lessons in English, Spanish and French. Jessica Williams came back to help in the Bible School and with visitation. Billy Leveille returned to hold French/Creole meetings in Vero Beach and West Palm Beach .
Southern Students Make a Difference
Field Schools of Evangelism at Southern Adventist University are as old as the school itself. Hundreds of students watched great evangelists model preaching appeals and different evangelistic strategies. Now, the exciting new developments of the past three years give Southern students a chance to get in on the action by participating in visitation, observing experienced evangelists and preaching entire series.
In the summer of 2004, Southern sponsored three evangelistic field schools, offering students a chance to preach in South Africa, Florida and North Carolina. The North Carolina series was lead by Dan Bentzinger, an evangelist with It Is Written; Ralph Ringer, a Southern Union evangelist; and Jud Lake and Carlos Martin, professors at SAU. Ten theology majors received instruction, supervision and an opportunity to preach in seven different churches, including the main site at Arden. Sattelite meetings were held in Asheville, Mills River, Fairview, Fletcher, Irwin Hills and Spartanburg.
Most students preached in churches that could not afford to hire a professional evangelist; however, they preached with the passion of anointed messengers of God. They visited people in their homes, knocked on doors, and made evangelistic appeals. Some churches were small and far from the main site, so having an evangelist was a rare but golden opportunity. Both Christ Newell and Tony Ludwig preached at two of the smaller churches, and each saw five people join the church.
Students were lodged in homes but ate lunch together at Fletcher Park Inn, an Adventist retirement center. The food was better and more abundant than anticipated. Every day Curtis Sharp and Jim Braden distributed unused sack lunches in a trailer park. Several people there began attending the main series and eventually were baptized. Lidvar Andvik and In Pyo Hong were in charge of the reception desk at the main site. The group serving as Bible workers had the joy of seeing ten baptisms before the end of the series.
Three students were assigned to preach in Spanish-speaking congregations. Pastor Carlos Molina had done excellent ground preparation; and at the end of the series, Jeff Villegas, Giovanni Marin, and Raul Rivero had the joy of knowing that 27 people had been baptized in their churches.
The students were provided with optional doctrinal series. All of them preached using PowerPoint presentations. Brian Hadley preached to a large congregation; and at the end of his series, members and visitors were still captivated by his doctrinal presentations based on the book of Revelation. Three were baptized in his series; and, following the local pastor's suggestion, an additional seven prospects prepared for baptism in the following two months.
At the conclusion of five weeks of preaching on August 14, 49 souls had been baptized and 15 were committed to be baptized in the following weeks. However, the results cannot be measured only in terms of haptisms and decisions for Christ. Students returned to Southern with a new perspective of pastoral ministry and a positive attitude toward public evangelism.
Tony Ludwig said, "If God blessed my series as a student in a small country church, I know He will do it again when I receive my first church as a pastor!" This hands-on approach to public evangelism will produce amazing results as we await Jesus' return.
Students Impact Many Lives in South Africa
Early this summer, thirteen theology students were joined by the president of Southern Adventist University and the dean of the School of Religion to do reaping evangelism in and around Durban, South Africa, during their winter season. The public meetings resulted in the baptism of 115 people. Also, 204 others made decisions for Christ and His church and joined baptismal classes.
The students encountered challenges, such as outdoor sites that were not ready, power outages, unreliable transportation, local personnel difficulties, and temperatures in the 40s affecting tent meetings. However, at the end, pastors, lay leaders and youth from several preaching sites asked Southern students to stay longer or to return. "Chirst has made a deep impact in our lives through you," they said.
South Africa is a country with a history of deep ethnic barriers; and due to its natural wealth, gospel workers encounter a secularized Christian subculture much closer to that of the United States than typical sub-Sahara Africa. The students preached to white, colored, Indian, and Zulu audiences every night for a total of 19 meetings. They were Emily Flottmann (colored/white), Jennifer Francisco (Indian), Brian Hadley (Zulu), Jim McIntyre (colored), Nathan Nickel (Indian), Moses Pegues, a graduate student (Zulu), Reed Richardi (Zulu), Kenwyn Sealy (Zulu), Bill Simpson (Zulu), Geoff Starr (Zulu), Jeff Sutton (Zulu), Heather Wallace (white), and Jerry Wasmer (colored).
God was certainly at work in South Africa. Nathan, a graduating senior (who will be this year’s new assistant chaplain at Southern), visited and prayed for a girl who had been very sick for about ten days. The next day she was completely healed. A Sunday church pastor began attending meetings and accepted the Sabbath. It was interesting, however, that other Sunday preachers began holding their own meetings to compete with the Adventists.
Brian, a junior who had done crusades in Africa twice before, discovered the site was not ready, the public address system and the screen were not there, he had different interpreters each night, there were power outages, etc. It was a discouraging start. However, at the end, 25 people were baptized and another 24 made decisions for baptism. Jennifer, a senior (who hopes to work in children’s ministries), was preaching one night while a girl in the audience kept asking God silently if He really loved her. Moments later, the girl heard Jennifer say, “Natasha, God really loves you!” This was news to Jennifer, who never said what the girl heard. Reed, a junior with a passion for evangelism, had very little pastoral support for the meetings. But in a twist of irony, an attendee became so convicted by the Sabbath message that she arranged for her entire Sunday church to hear about it–on Sunday morning!
Heather, a junior who made a deep impact on the youth of her church, heard a guest express: “I’ve never heard such wonderful teaching!” He was the printer who made the brochures inviting people to the meetings. Bill, a junior with a great love for God, saw how attendance and participation were low, in part, because of the location of the hall. After much prayer, he urged the local leaders to secure a tent outdoors. Attendance practically doubled overnight. Jeff, a graduating senior going as a missionary pilot to , challenged two youths who asked, “Why are you so on fire for Jesus?" He gave each of them the chance to preach for ten minutes one night. He trained and guided them. After the young men preached, they confessed to have never prayed so much in their lives! From that night on, they faithfully attended the meetings and became involved in evangelistic visitation. At the end of the meetings, they were rebaptized.
Evangelism overseas is costly and challenging, but students experience a breadth of ministry that proves to be life-transforming for them as well as for those to whom they minister.
110 Baptized with New Way to Train
Take fourteen Southern students, combine with evangelist Ron Halvorsen, and mix in ten evangelistic meetings at churches throughout southwest Florida. Add the support of the Southern Union, Southern Adventist University, Florida Conference, and local church members and pastors and you have the 2003 Southern Adventist University Field School of Evangelism. For the first time Southern’s students preached evangelistic sermons in the United States. After five weeks of hard work and prayer the students’ results include more than 50 newly-baptized church members and fourteen new experienced evangelists. The total number of baptisms, including Ron Halvorsen’s meetings, is over 100 and growing.
Evangelistic field schools once meant students attending an evangelistic series and assisting in the visitation, ushering, and other details. Ron Halvorsen’s “Revelation Offers Hope,” scheduled for May and June in Port Charlotte, Florida offered the opportunity to combine the traditional approach with a new-to-the-United States concept: let the field school students actually preach a complete evangelistic series.
Students could live in Port Charlotte and attend morning classes and Halvorsen’s week-night meetings at the new Port Charlotte Cultural Center. Then on the weekend they could hold satellite evangelistic meetings at churches throughout the Southwest Florida area. By combining budgets and starting the same night, using the same sermon, all the meetings could be advertised together throughout the area.
Eventually, nine Southwest Florida churches agreed to host student meetings. Daniel Romanov held meetings in Venice, Jonathan Fetrick in Northport, Jon Weigley in Arcadia, Michael Bushey in Fort Myers Shores, Stephen Lundquist in Fort Myers, and Kevin Maragh and Greg Edge in Lehigh Acres. Spanish meetings were held by Raul Rivera in Lake Placid and Luis Camps in Fort Myers. Billy Leveille held meetings at the Elam French Haitian church in Naples. Jennifer Ross, Jessica Williams, Walter Martinez, and Keith and Dominique Wakefield worked full-time with Ron Halvorsen’s Port Charlotte Meeting. Dominique deserves special recognition for attending the field school with her theology student husband and working full-time with the team.
Opening night saw an overflow crowd of more than 700 at the new Cultural Center in Port Charlotte. Students reported excellent attendance at their locations as well. The schedule soon settled into a routine of Monday through Wednesday morning classes and afternoon sermon preparation and visitation. Students preached Friday through Sunday nights and attended Halvorsen’s meetings in Port Charlotte Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Thursday was a welcome day off.
In addition to Halvorsen's lectures, students also received instruction in attendance tracking from associate evangelist George Garrick, planning and preparation from Ernestine Finley, how to give Bible Studies from Bible worker Claudette Prieto, and evangelistic preaching from Ralph Ringer.
What were the results? God blessed in miraculous ways. Although rainfall the last weekend measured more than 5 inches in Port Charlotte, the skies cleared for the mass baptism held at a local YMCA indoor pool and 80 new converts were baptized in one day. To date baptisms from student meetings total more than 50 and the number of baptisms for all ten meetings are at least 110.
Students and staff enthusiastically embraced the new concept. Billy Leveille said, “I’ve learned more here in five weeks than in a year of classes.” Evangelist Ron Halvorsen reflecting on the series said: “It was a very positive program which provided better training for the students. We had a fine group of workers.” He reports that plans are already being made for next summer’s field school which will be held on Florida’s East Coast in the Ft. Pierce/Port St. Lucie area starting May 14, 2004.
Sharing Jesus and Gaining Experience in Mexico
Dr. Carlos Martin and a group of fourteen students from Southern arrived in Mexico City on Tuesday, May 27. With a population of approximately 20,000,000, it is the largest city in the world. The group from Southern was only a small contingent participating in this Mexican evangelistic effort, coordinated by Elder Robert Folkenberg. Almost three weeks later they returned with experiences that changed their lives forever.
Professor and students alike were assigned to churches where they were to preach Christ-centered doctrines for sixteen nights in a row. At first, this task seemed insurmountable. Four evangelists delivered their sermons in Spanish, but those who only spoke English needed translators. All preachers used PowerPoint presentations to offer their messages, because preaching without notes seemed impossible. Making appeals, invitations, and offering altar calls were difficult at first especially for the inexperienced. However, at the end, all evangelists knew that “it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor 1:21). At the end of each day they returned from their churches late in the evening relating exciting stories of decisions, conversions, and miracles. The Lord answered their prayers and rewarded their dedication.
Most pastors had people ready for baptism before the opening night. In fact, 166 were baptized as a result of the ground work. But the climax of the series was a massive baptismal ceremony of 325 on Sunday, June 15. Participants from Southern were instrumental in bringing 491 souls to the fold of Mexican churches.
As the team was on it's way back to the States, one student (Albert Handal) said, "I feel like I am now ready to hold an evangelistic series in my own church." That is exactly what we wanted to develop in these young evangelists–experience and renewed commitment to minsitry.