NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Thirteen students from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) descended into New Orleans’ Mardi Gras festival Feb. 20-23 to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Since 2014, MBTS professor of evangelism Thomas Johnston has taken students from MBTS and Spurgeon College to New Orleans during the annual event. He explained that students are placed into the heat of spiritual battle, proclaiming the good news of the gospel during an event known for its debauchery. The goal of the trip is to confront the lost with the Gospel message.
This year, the students handed out 4,775 Gospel tracts and 1,100 follow-up wristbands. They engaged in 238 Gospel conversations and saw 18 festival-goers repent of their sins and believe in the saving truth of Christ’s salvation.
Johnston said preparation is key when dealing with the mental, emotional and spiritual battle the students encounter. Not going it alone is a primary strategy Johnston picked up from David Cobb, a local who has been sharing the gospel in New Orleans for over 35 years.
“It is important to have a wingman,” Johnston said, “so you are not doing it alone. Built into the trip is the requirement that everyone needs to have a wingman. This means you have to build a spiritual bond with somebody else. You meet with them, pray with them, pray about spiritual needs before you go down there.
“You talk about spiritual things; you talk about life, and you talk about sharing the Gospel. You ask each other how life is going, how well you are loving your family, are there any spiritual needs or issues which need to be worked through? We want to be very guarded with the people going down there because the evil hits hard. The sexual promiscuity is so thick that we need to be guarded from that.”
For accountability, the five students from MBTS’ main campus met several times for breakfast before the trip, while eight online students met with Johnston via video conferencing.
Erick McDonald and Josh Storey became acquainted while taking online classes. Both men are emergency room physicians — McDonald in Florence, Ala., and Storey in Bellevue, Neb. — which helped forge a bond. They have become so connected during their studies that they now take their family vacations together and have undergone the process preparing their families for deployment to East Africa as career missionaries with the International Mission Board. Naturally, McDonald and Storey were wingmen for the New Orleans evangelism trip.
McDonald said the trip went really well and that “God really showed out,” working in even greater ways than they were praying for. He added that his relationship with Storey is quite providential, as their skillsets complemented one another in New Orleans.
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Source: Baptist Press