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.
Howard Ramsey was my mentor in Portland, Ore., in the Northwest Baptist Convention. For two years I was his associate in the Evangelism Division there. My primary job was to assist him, but to also work with Youth Evangelism in training youth groups to witness. I supervised college students who came out to the Northwest and served on what we called Evangelism teams. They would go into churches and conduct revival meetings. I was also out preaching about every weekend somewhere in the Northwest.
Howard later went to the then Home Mission Board in Atlanta, Ga., where he developed the Continued Witness Training system for Southern Baptist. He was also the Director of Personal Witness Training for about a decade.
I used to go visiting for our church with Howard when we were in town together. We traveled places together, and without fail I always saw him try to go as far as he could with people in sharing he gospel with them. Whether in the home or on a plane or a bus, he would start talking with people, finding out where they were from and what they did.
Howard would then ask if they went to church anywhere. He would then share a short concise testimony of how he had trusted Christ as Savior. Then he would usually ask had they ever trusted Christ as Savior or the CWT question: “If you were to stand before the Lord and He were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you into heaven, what would you say?’” This immediately identified whether the person was saved or not. Then if they were not he would ask if the could share with them how they could trust Christ as Savior. Howard led people to Christ everywhere because he was consistent in doing this wherever he went. He sowed the seed of the gospel everywhere and saw people trust Christ everywhere.
Equally, Howard had a passion to train others who would train others to do the same thing. I remember him talking about going with pastors and church members who saw him share the Lord and learn from him the way I did. Even if he shared the gospel with someone, he would let the learner lead that person to Christ sometimes. Toward the end of the Lay Evangelism school he would observe as the other person sought to take what they learned from him and lead the other person to Christ.
Howard has been faithful all his years, even in retirement, of continuing to do the same thing over and over again. He is one of the most effective personal witnesses I have ever known. In 1996 he conducted a series of meetings in our church. We went to a print shop where we led a man to Christ. His legacy is rich and his reward will be great in heaven because of his passion for souls. We all must go and do likewise.