KEENE, TEX. – From June 2 to June 15, 15 theology students from Southwestern Adventist University conducted 15 different evangelistic seminars in English and Spanish churches across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. As a result, 45 decisions for baptism were made by community members, and student evangelists were reporting personal revivals among members in every church. As for themselves, the pastors-in-training said they walked away feeling inspired and empowered to take the next step in their own spiritual journeys.
The meetings were the culmination of the university’s annual five-week Field School of Evangelism, a required class for upper division theology majors. This summer, students apprenticed under David Machado for three weeks in the classroom, as well as in the Hurst Seventh-day Adventist Church, where Machado conducted his own series of evangelistic meetings from May 10 through June 1. Machado’s meetings resulted in 40 baptisms, for a total of 85 baptisms.
Buster Swoopes, who taught the class with Machado, said, “Field school teaches students to continue to do public evangelism well into ministry and equips them to be able to do so.”
This year, students were equipped by the Southwestern Union and the Texas Conference, as they were provided projectors, suit allowances, books, giveaways and flyers for the meetings. Southwestern Adventist University hosted the students in the dorm and the Union covered gas and stipends for meals.
Students also received plenty of hands-on experience in ministry. Alexis Mireles, a senior theology student, said, “Field school taught me how to take care of a congregation, how to visit and work with them and everything that follows. It’s helped me understand how ministry really works. I’ve learned that visitation is more important than preaching.”
Swoopes said that while visitation was not required, all students were encouraged to knock on doors and some students had tremendous results.
For instance, recent graduate Miguel Simo gleaned 12 candidates for baptism from “cold knocking,” said Swoopes. “He was running the Dallas meeting and almost every day he knocked on doors and personally invited the 12 that were baptized to attend the meetings. Often, he came back to class sweaty and tired, but he never missed a day of class. He worked really hard.”
Recent graduate Samson Sembeba, who ran the Alvarado Seventh-day Adventist Church meetings and who has accepted a pastoral position in Oklahoma, shared, “Doing field school forced me to really study the Bible. I feel like going through this experience has been a revival for me, where I am now confident in the Bible; the Bible is so clear and it makes me want to stand and proclaim it with everything in my bones. Field school changed my life.”
Alexis Mireles, who conducted a seminar in the Crowley Spanish church, said the experience has changed how he views his calling. “Before this field school, I was planning to go as a missionary to somewhere remote, like the Amazon, but I realized that there are people right here in the United States that don’t know Jesus. I’ll go wherever God calls, but now I also feel He can bring me people that need to hear the truth right where I am.”
This year marked the 10th anniversary of the field school, which began under the leadership of Bill Kilgore. Each year the field school visits a different conference in the Southwestern Union. Next year, the field school will take place in the Southwest Region Conference. The field school is a unique component of Southwestern Adventist University’s religion program, setting it apart from its sister schools and providing excellent career preparation for future pastors, missionaries and evangelists. For more information about Southwestern Adventist University’s theology program, visit SWAU.edu.
By Lindsey Gendke