For 28 years, Dan Nelson has served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Camarillo, Calif. Pastor Nelson will submit a series of posts to SBCToday about people who influenced him for the sake of evangelism.
It was a great joy of mine to serve in the Northwest Baptist Convention for two years in the Evangelism Division there. I got to get out and travel all over the Northwest and was usually in a church every weekend with some kind of ministry event. I received several invitations to come and preach in revival meetings. One invitation came from Brother Fred Shuffield, pastor of the Clear Creek Baptist Mission in Silverdale, Washington. Just to be with Brother Fred was an experience I will never forget; it affected my life greatly.
Brother Fred was from Hot Springs, Arkansas, but had spent decades in California and the Northwest pastoring Missionary Baptist Churches. He became a Southern Baptist because of the comprehensive scope of missions. At 62, he went over to Silverdale to plant a church as a Southern Baptist, and had a sponsor church, First Baptist Church of Port Orchard, where his son-in-law was pastor. He just started visiting homes with hardly anyone except his wife in the community to start the new work.
Brother Fred was a great Bible student. My first encounter with him confirmed he spoke through the word. Having him in my church in Burney and latter in Camarillo demonstrated the depth of his Biblical knowledge. He would share scripture after scripture in his preaching and teaching. He used these gifts in his witnessing efforts also.
I stayed in the home of a family who had come to Christ through Brother Fred’s ministry. They invited him into their home for Bible study after he showed up at their doorstep one day and asked if they had a Bible. He wanted them to know how to study it. They were interested. Brother Fred scheduled weekly meetings with them showing the different divisions of scripture in helping them understand “right division” (as he put it) in scripture. He would look at the prophetic passages in the law, prophets and writings in the Old Testament. His model for this method was resurrected Christ in Lk. 24:44.
By the time Brother Fred got to the New Testament after a few lessons, people would usually have already trusted Christ. He did share the gospel, the plan of God in the church, the importance of baptism and ministry within the local church. These topics prompted the family and others to be interested in the church he was planting. The whole family was baptized after accepting Christ and joining the church. By the time I got there, about two years after the church had begun to grow, a young man was serving as leader. There were several families and individuals in the church such as this who had been reached for Christ in a similar manner.
Clear Creek Baptist Church eventually purchased land, built buildings, and began a ministry that exists today in Silverdale. Brother Fred went on to be with the Lord in the late 80s, a few years after he held a revival meeting with us in Camarillo. Almost every leader in the church was spiritual son of daughter that Brother Fred had led to Christ and became a strong fixture in the church.
I will always remember Brother Fred’s method of getting into a home and building a permanent bridge to the family. It is similar to a Jehovah Witness method, but it gets into the home with the truth. He told me he went after quality in his outreach in that he concentrated only on a few families and kept going back to them. He later trained his leaders to do the same thing he had done with them. The method also utilized discipleship principles, for after the person or family had trusted Christ, he continued studying with them grounding them in the faith. By the time this occurred, they were faithfully coming to the church, and in his words: “You couldn’t keep them away.” The new believers became mature believers and stayed with the church. During my second meeting with the church almost nine years later, I noted that these individuals were still with the church, growing and going out to reach others for the Lord.
Brother Fred was greatly used of the Lord to actually continue the kind of evangelistic ministry Christ had — of working with people until they were doing the same thing he was doing. Can anything be more New Testament? I learned a lot from this dear brother, and we all can. After all, it’s just reaching people the way Jesus did.