by Dan Nelson
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.
Bryce Evans was pastor of Agricola Baptist Church when I reconfirmed my call to preach. I was licensed and ordained under his ministry there. Brother Evans was a great encourager to me. He heard me speak in an opening session on youth day in our church and almost immediately scheduled me to preach on Sunday morning. He encouraged me to get all the training I could get while I was young. He had taught at Clarke College in Newton, Miss., before coming to Agricola. Although I did not attend Clarke, he concurred with my decision to go to William Carey College. He even took me to enroll and get settled there.
Brother Evans was a model of ministry evangelism. By that I mean he did evangelism in the course of ministry wherever he went. Many times he would ask: “Want to go visiting with me?” He believed in taking someone else with him when he visited. In revival meetings he would be sure to take the evangelist to as many people as possible and introduce him to unsaved people for an opportunity to share the Gospel with them.
Brother Evans — who also taught speech pathology at the University of South Alabama used — used weddings and funerals as opportunities to share the Good News. He was quite and orator much in the mold of past preachers such as Criswell and Lee. He would write a poem or tribute to the deceased, which was a great time of remembrance for the family. He would be sensitive to the family and friends and seek to share in a loving way about Christ. In a similar manner, I try to write something of that order for others. I also try to visit in the home of everyone, even if I don’t know them, to share about our ministry in the church and in some way witness to them because I saw Brother Evans do that.
Brothers Evans also gave a warm evangelistic invitation. There was an urgency to the conclusion of his messages to not put off the most important decision of your life. He urged people to come to Christ or make some commitment much like a lawyer finishing his closing argument.
During a revival meeting in my first church, Brother Evans came up with the youth choir and doubled our attendance one night. He never forgot to encourage me in my first few years of ministry. From the meaningful ordination service he planned with my first church to staying in contact with me as a pastor, I learned to be an evangelistic pastor from his example. I would visit on Saturdays when I came over from college in that little student pastorate and tried to really get to know the people the way Brother Evans did. I also sought friends and family members in the church who were unsaved and shared the Gospel with them, too.
Brother Evans is still going in South Alabama, serving as pastor. He still visits and ministers as he did in my home church to open the doors to evangelism in a church pastorate. What an example he has been to me and, hopefully, to you to use all avenues of ministry in the church for evangelism and never stop trying to reach others with the Gospel.