Anatomy of a witnessing encounter

David Williams, left, pastor of Iron City Baptist Church near Bainbridge, and Deani Gaskins, center, a Southwestern Seminary student from North Carolina, share their faith at the Arts Apartments in North Fort Worth on Thursday afternoon. JOE WESTBURY/Index
Index Managing Editor Joe Westbury is in Fort Worth, TX, this week to provide stories of Georgia Baptists serving as volunteers for Crossover Dallas. Next week Index Senior Editor Gerald Harris and Editor Scott Barkley will be on site to bring daily stories of events beginning with Sunday's Harvest America revival and continuing with news of Georgia Baptists from the floor of the Dallas convention center. Check back for their daily updates from this years's annual meeting. NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX — The official temperature was 98 degrees on Thursday as David Williams and Deani Gaskins walked around the Arts Apartments complex in the North Fort Worth suburb. In three days they had knocked on 90% of the nearly 300 doors in the housing complex, but this afternoon the heat made it more difficult. The steady, hot wind blew across the asphalt parking lot, making the heat index feel every bit of the 104 the weather station was broadcasting. As they finished one witnessing encounter, ready to move on to another location, a woman from the catwalk above called out in friendly conversation. Williams, pastor of Iron City Baptist Church near the Georgia-Florida state line, was paired with Southwestern Seminary student Gaskins for an afternoon of sharing their faith. Along with that invitation to eternal life was an invitation to attend the upcoming Harvest America evangelistic event at AT&T Stadium in nearby Arlington. This Sunday more than 100,000 people are expected to pack the stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys, to hear California Pastor and Evangelist Greg Laurie share the gospel. As of Thursday more than 200 individuals had made professions of faith. Williams and Gaskins are part of the foot soldiers of Southwestern Seminary who are fanning out across the Metroplex to reach Dallas-Fort Worth for Christ and build attendance at the revival. They have been assigned to help extend the ministry of Kevin Ulmer, pastor of Maplewood Baptist Fellowship, and his congregation. And the woman on the catwalk is representative of those who have had a spiritual seed planted in their hearts. The following is a visual record of how that encounter progressed and its outcome.
The woman calls out to Williams and Gaskins, catching them off guard as they walk away from the building. They turn around and look up to see who was getting their attention. JOE WESTBURY/Index
The woman identifies herself as being from Jamaica and is just engaging in friendly conversation. She says she is not a resident but is in the complex to visit a friend.
As Williams remains below, Gaskins goes up the stairs to further engage the woman, giving her an invitation to the revival meeting. That sets the stage for the spiritual conversation to follow. JOE WESTBURY/Index
The woman is free about her religious beliefs and eagerly talks with Deani about spiritual matters. “I believe in a higher spiritual being but I’m not convinced about favoring one over another,” she says. JOE WESTBURY/Idex[/caption]
Williams moves up the stairs to join the conversation as Gaskins opens her Bible and begins to share scripture. Gaskins begins talking about the Garden of Eden, the fall, and works her way through to the Roman Road presentation. “I believe in all the gods, in all the faiths. I don’t think I need to choose one over another,” she explains. “I believe there is truth in all religions. I was raised by family members who attend a variety of different faiths and believe they are all good,” she continues in her defense. JOE WESTBURY/Index[/caption]
As the conversation continues, Williams and Gaskins patiently share their personal experiences with God and His love for humanity. Williams states that being religious does not do any good for someone as far as getting to heaven. He notes that an individual cannot believe that all faiths are basically the same if you want to have a personal relationship with God. “Well, its worked pretty good for me,” she says with a light-hearted chuckle. When Williams asks her where she will go if she dies with her current belief system that does not embrace Christ among all others, she replies, “If die I’ll go to heaven. It will be all right because I’ve been a good soldier. “I believe in a lot of things Christ said but not all that He said. And you’re not going to change my mind,” she notes firmly but politely. Sensing an end to the conversation, Williams and Gaskins thank her for her time and remind her of the Sunday evening free event at the stadium. She accepts the brochure, along with the other information in the door hanger packet, and says she will give it some thought. With that, the three join hands in prayer in the blistering heat. Williams thanks God for arranging the encounter and Gaskins prays that the woman will attend the revival meeting and hear Greg Laurie explain the uniqueness of Christ and His love for her and others who do not fully know Him.
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With the encounter over, the woman politely thanks them for their time and the conversation. Williams and Gaskins respond equally and walk down the stairs and across the parking lot to a waiting church van, ready to take them to another neighborhood to look for other such encounters.
Crossover Dallas, David Williams, Deani Gaskins, Fort Worth, Southwestern Seminary


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