About eighteen months ago then 20-year old Dillion Sherrill, a Wildwood College of Health Evangelism graduate, stepped to the podium of the Wildwood Church and shared his burden for the people in the downtown Chattanooga area. Dillion and a few friends had been doing personal evangelism on the streets of downtown on the weekends. Within weeks after Dillion's announcement at the church, groups of 25-30 people were gathering in the church parking lot to go to Chattanooga.
Due to the explosive response to the project, some immediate planning and organization was in order. With the help of several students, staff and church leaders, a map or plan or comprehensive cycle of evangelism was create. The cycle would begin with several weeks of initial footwork and would progress to health surveys, accessing the needs of the community and contributing aid in whatever way possible. To conclude the cycle a reaping series would be held close in the Westside community.
The active participation and the buzz surrounding the series of events that members called "evangelism" was evidence enough for the belief that personal friendships were being made between us and the community but our final step would seek to evaluate if any solid connections had been made with the God of heaven.
Students beamed and worn church members were rejuvenated after returning from the field. After every outing, the group would share testimonies of their experiences. It seemed quite natural to progress to the next phase of the comprehensive cycle of evangelism, after months of exciting footwork. The proceeding phase was going to be the reaping evangelistic series.
They secured a venue: the community Presbyterian Church and had planned the evening programs. There would be a wellness program held in the same church only weeks before that would help generate interest in the reaping series as well.
Each night the program would begin at the health screening area where attendees would be able to check their blood pressure, receive chair massages and one-on-one lifestyle counseling. There was a prayer room in the back for heavy burdens and bible studies. Delicious plant based meals were served every night before actual service began.
Health was incorporated into every meeting from the health screening booth to the meals to the health nugget before the message. The theme of the series was Urban Legends each night the messages were focusing on discover the difference between fiction and reality in terms of God, His love for us and what we should in turn do with that love. Shawn Craig, a 23-year old Georgia native spoke for the eight-night crusade.
Nearly seventy members of the West Side community attended the meetings with about a dozen interested in Bible studies.
It might have been the crisp October nights, the constant buzz in the streets surrounding the Presbyterian Church but the Spirit of the living God was present every night that made the reaping series a blessing to the attendees and the Wildwood Church members. The church continues to keep close ties with the West Side community. Now once a week, a small group gathers to hear the spoken word and to fellowship. Never forget the power of your church to do amazing things in the community with the help of God.
by Kaneesha Lord