How Will They Hear?“My flame for evangelism has been ignited!”
Nearly 100 Salvationists met in August at Camp Hoblitzelle in the Texas Division of the Southern Territory for the annual National Seminar on Evangelism.
This was the first time in many years that the National Seminar on Evangelism was held somewhere other than the Glen Eyrie grounds in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The move to Hoblitzelle was motivated by two factors — making the seminar more relevant and accessible to a younger demographic, and to connect delegates to a wider range of Salvation Army ministries. Both of those goals were achieved with this year’s seminar, according to event organizers.
The theme for the week was, “How Will They Hear?” based on Romans 10:14, which asks, “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
The delegates began the weekend by hearing from the National Commander, Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder. Commissioner Hodder spoke bluntly about heaven, hell, and the heavy responsibility we have as Christians to lead others to salvation through Christ. Commissioner Hodder also spoke at the worship service on Sunday morning on the importance of having strong island foundations of doctrinal truth in a cultural ocean that constantly ebbs and flows.
On Sunday evening, the delegates were led by Captain Darell Houseton, the Divisional Youth Secretary of the Southwest Ohio and Northeast Kentucky Division of the Eastern Territory, to explore the twin concepts of outreach as obedience and as a cross-cultural mandate from God. “God reaches out, so we must reach out,” Houseton said, “and our reach has to be toward people who may be very different than we are.”
Greg Stier, the founder of the organization Dare 2 Share, which focuses specifically on empowering youth leaders to help students reach their peers, spoke on the Monday. Stier gave practical evangelism training to the delegates while also sharing the free resources that Dare 2 Share offers. He also pointed the delegates to the free app,“Life in 6 Words.” More can be found at www.dare2share.org.
On Tuesday through Thursday, the delegates were led and taught by Steve Carter, pastor, speaker, and author of the book, “This Invitational Life.” Steve intrigued the Salvationist delegates with his opening question, “What if Ananias had said no?” based on the conversion of Saul in Acts 9. Steve reminded delegates that, “Before God calls a Saul/Paul or a William Booth, there is an Ananias who obeys and goes.” Carter also spoke to the importance for believers to share their faith with others because “Rescued people rescue people.”
Throughout the week, delegates were led in corporate worship times together by a worship group which included Salvationists from the Southern and Western territories. The praise band was made up of Captain Erin Wikle, Shalini and Caleb Danielson, Ezequiel Garcia, and Israel and Josh Doria.
In addition to Bible teaching and evangelism training, delegates were also divided into small groups and sent out to do practical ministry and evangelism at one of nine local corps in the North Texas Area Command. This experience gave them practical application for ministry in a variety of settings.
Activities included distributing back-to-school supplies, Bible study and worship services, and participating in shelter ministry. At one location, delegates manned booths at a back-to-school event and engaged attendees in evangelistic conversations as they enjoyed the festivities.
Delegates were also given time to see the sights of the area through various tours. One tour went to Waco, to see the Dr. Pepper museum and go to the Shops at the Silos. Another tour went to the stockyards in Fort Worth for a real cowboy experience. A third tour group went to the President George W. Bush Library and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. One of the most incredible tours was a backstage tour of The Chosen set, which is built on Camp Hoblitzelle’s property. Delegates were given a tour of the set and were actually allowed to witness filming of the popular series as it was happening.
Major Cheryl Kistan led the last full day of the seminar, which included Bible teaching and a covenant service in the evening. Delegates were encouraged and invited to seal their own commitment to reaching out with the Gospel by signing a personal covenant before leaving the seminar.
When asked to sum up the experience of the national seminar, Captain Jessenya Wiand said, “This really was such an amazing time and tremendously impacted my life and ministry.” Judy McManus, a soldier of the Phoenix Kroc Center, said, “The entire experience was a blessing!” The best summary of the seminar was an enthusiastic exclamation from one delegate: “My flame for evangelism has been ignited!”
Major Matt Satterlee is the assistant national program secretary. Photos by Captain Darell Houseton & Major Christine Harris