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.
I thank the Lord I grew up in a soul-winning church and my first example as a pastor was a soul-winning pastor: Lawrence Baylot. I was only about nine when Brother Baylot became our pastor at Agricola Baptist Church. He only stayed for maybe three years or more before going to another church as Pastor. Those three years were memorable in our life and in the Agricola Baptist Church. My Dad was our Junior Boys Sunday school teacher and he challenged us to study the Bible and made the lessons fun.
Brother Baylot hit Agricola like a whirlwind. He scheduled Revival meetings, made visitation a priority and personally led many to Christ in their homes. He was an example of what I thought a pastor should be. He was a dynamic pastor who would make the Bible come alive in his preaching and teaching. His stories and knowledge of scripture as a young pastor were impressive.
I was most impressed with the way he went after people. He had two boys and a girl, and was very busy raising a young family while serving as pastor. But soul winning was brought to a fever pitch in our church. Every service we expected to see someone saved. More often than not, someone would come forward in the invitation and make a public profession of faith testifying that Brother Baylot had led them to Christ in their home.
Brother Baylot combed the community getting into the homes of people finding out if people were saved. I remember a revival meeting we were having with Step Martin and Billy Crosby. He had a ton of flyers made up and the Junior Boys assisted him in taking flyers to homes. He drove us around and we would break out of the car take a flyer and invite people to the meetings. Latter that year I asked Brother Baylot for some tracts detailing the plan of salvation. He was impressed that I was interested in seeing people saved at such a young age. He began to encourage me and our class began to talk with friends after church in the Junior Boys Sunday school room. Several made professions of faith after they were led to Christ by someone. Usually we would take our friend to Brother Baylot for further conversation.
Several boys were led to Christ by my dad L.R. Nelson, who was the head football coach at Agricola High School. He was my Scoutmaster and my teacher. Brother Baylot and my Dad were close friends hunting and fishing together. I learned to respect the office of Pastor from my Dad interacting with Brother Baylot. Brother Baylot was a mainstay at the High school knowing most of the boys on Daddy’s team, giving devotionals at the school and serving as the announcer for the football games on the PA system. It was a fun time to grow up with these two great examples in my life.
Brother Baylot either kept a list in his head or elsewhere of people he needed to visit. In revival meetings, it was not unusual for the people to give him names of people to visit. He would have dinner appointments with people. His method was to find out about their church background then get into the gospel with them. He had tremendous directness, something I find lacking with many churches today. After small talk, he would say something like, “How is it with your soul? Do you know you’re saved and would go to heaven if you died? Do you know how to be saved?” Then he would share the Lord with them. Many people prayed with Brother Baylot to accept Christ those three years he was our pastor.
The effectiveness of Brother Baylot’s example to me, my desire to study God’s Word and win people to Christ all led me to see God was calling me to preach the gospel. At 11 in the last year of Brother Baylot’s ministry with us, I came forward and told Brother Baylot I felt called to be an evangelist. I have worked in evangelism but also seen that calling realized in being Pastor of a church. I surrendered my life to do what Brother Baylot was doing.
Many years have passed: More than 50 to be exact. Brother Baylot served several churches as pastor. He is trying to retire or whatever that looks like for a pastor in coming back to Mississippi. But I noticed he is still serving as a pastor it looks like in the Jackson, Mississippi, area. I saw him again after all these years the week of my Mother’s funeral which I conducted. He came that week to conduct the funeral of another dear saint there in Agricola. I was cleaning the house when he came by. We visited only shortly, but I thanked him for his influence, told him I had been ordained more than 40 years now, and have served in California as pastor for more than 35 years. His influence is still there when I think of what God wants to do in our churches and will do through a soul-winning pastor like Brother Lawrence Baylot as a motivating example.