TBMB President and Executive Director Randy C. Davis reflects on the annual Youth Evangelism Conference, TN Baptist Disaster Relief, and Baptist Collegiate Ministries.
Randy Davis: You talked to a dozen missionaries that have given their life on foreign soil. You’re going to find that the vast majority of them got their first missions experience because of a BCM on a college campus.
Chris Turner: Hello and welcome into this edition of Radio B&R. I’m your host, Chris Turner, director of communications here at the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. This is our monthly update segment with our executive director, Randy Davis. Randy, thanks for being with us again.
Randy Davis: I am very honored to be here, Chris. Thank you.
Chris Turner: Well, we have seen January and February of the year really started out as extremely busy years and nothing has let up in March. Our biggest event going into March, which is something that people have been familiar with for half a century, Youth Evangelism Conference, Tennessee YEC. This was just a really phenomenal year in what is our 51st year with YEC. Just talk a little bit about what the outcome was there.
Randy Davis: Well, we’ve been in transition this past year from the Ken Singleton-led YEC for many years, and Jay Barbier now is quarterbacking that effort, and he and his team, along with Bruce Edwards, have done a phenomenal job in this transition year. The thing that thrills us is that there are 780 recorded decisions for Christ during YEC. There were over 60 people that surrendered to ministry, feeling a call of God into some form of ministry vocationally, and so we’re just thrilled at what God did at YEC this year.
Chris Turner: Well, and just the whole dynamic of that thing over that, really, what amounts to about a 24-hour period, the two days on a Friday and Saturday and just the movement. YEC, there is just a legacy there with the people who have come and participated in that. Our state is littered. We’re scattered across our state with people who have come to YEC and felt that call to ministry and the impact that it’s had maybe salvation-wise as well.
Randy Davis: I meet people all over our state that have been saved at YEC, or they were called to ministry at YEC, went to a deeper level of discipleship walking with the Lord at YEC, so the impact of Youth Evangelism Conference through the years has been pretty astounding here in our own state. That’s why with so many options out there for churches and students, you still have somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 coming to YEC every single year in downtown Nashville.
Chris Turner: Yeah, I remember a few years ago talking to a pastor who pastors a small church in far east Tennessee and said that this was a big event for them to bring their kids to YEC, but when they looked at what they could possibly do for their youth group that would have some sort of spiritual impact, they decided that YEC, coming to Nashville and being here for that and then having their youth come, and the number of youth that they’ve seen over the past few years that have come to Christ from that. It sounds like Jay is already planning next year. Got some big things scheduled with that, so be looking for information for that coming up in the near future.
Chris Turner: It’s not just our youth that are on mission or being impacted by a Tennessee Baptist Mission Board ministry. Our BCMs have been very active over the past couple of weeks.
Randy Davis: It is amazing that the hundreds of students from our campuses are on mission with the Lord. They’re giving of their spring breaks. Some of them are going around the world, to the far reaches of the world. Many of them this year participated in disaster relief efforts in the Carolinas. You had about 150 that participated in Beach Reach down on the Florida Panhandle where they literally would be sharing their faith with the thousands of students from around the US that are on the Florida beaches.
Randy Davis: I am so thrilled about the work that’s going on on our university campus by our collegiate specialists, our ministers, our missionaries on these campuses. We’re really seeing some folks, A, won to the Lord, coming from all around the world on our university campuses, and B, we’re seeing people discipled in a very intentional manner, and I’m very, very proud of our BCM leaders.
Chris Turner: Why do you think it’s so important for collegiate students to participate in opportunities like this?
Randy Davis: It gets their feet wet. You talked to a dozen missionaries that have given their life on foreign soil. You’re going to find that the vast majority of them got their first missions experience because of a BCM on a college campus. It grieves my heart to say this, but Auburn University, a secular school, has one of the highest ratios of missionaries going through the IMB, and the reason for it is there’s such a strong BCM there at Auburn University and some local churches that are so plugged in. The same thing is happening across Tennessee at our college campuses and university campuses.
Chris Turner: When you look at these DR projects that our students have gotten involved with, that’s one of the things that our director of disaster relief, Wes Jones, one of the things when he came a few years ago really wanted to connect with that next generation, and we’re really starting to see the fruit of that emphasis. What is it about DR that is so important for that torch to be passed to the next generation? Generally, a lot of our DR folks are retired and have some opportunity, but why is it important for Tennessee Baptists or Southern Baptists to see that next generation coming along?
Randy Davis: Well, it’s the continuation of one of the most relevant ministries we’re participating in. If you go across the state and say, “What do we do together that is impacting need that’s immediate? What are we doing that’s impacting lostness,” and the thing that’s always at or near the top is disaster relief ministries. I’d tell you, what I’ve seen is it a tremendous encouragement to those people that have been involved in DR for a long time that are older to see these students come along beside them.
Randy Davis: My hope and prayer is that we have even some of our other colleges and universities incorporate disaster relief training on their campuses. Even if the kids can’t go, the students can’t go on a spring break disaster relief event, maybe when they’re professionals, when they’re out in the world, when they’re homemakers, they will be able to employ that training they’ve already had when disaster arises and there’s a call out.
Chris Turner: Yeah. When we think about disaster relief, obviously it does have deep roots, and we have seen. We talked in some past episodes about the two large grants that received near the end of last year, but that gift giving continues as far as Tennessee Baptist being the recipient of some donation. Talk a little bit about the recent donation that Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief has received.
Randy Davis: Well, we’ve actually recently had two or three that just kind of came out of the blue that the Lord provided. I’ve always been a proponent in that where God guides, God provides, and I think His hand on our response to disasters and meeting need right where we find them. There was a foundation that sent in a gift of $200. We sent them a thank you note for that, and they immediately followed up with another gift of $200. Those gifts went to disaster relief, GOTM, Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions, but we also had Wallace Hardware, a company in East Tennessee that is a wholesaler for hardware stores all across the Southeast and even up into, I believe, Pennsylvania, gave to disaster relief a tractor-trailer rig.
Randy Davis: Now, we already have the trailer, or we’ll be getting a trailer, but that is a very expensive donation that Wallace Hardware has given to us, but it doesn’t surprise me. The Wallace family has always been very generous in Kingdom work. It was a Wallace Hardware truck that was donated that moved me and my family from the coast of Mississippi to East Tennessee 27 years ago when I became pastor at First Baptist Church Morristown. This was a … We’ve been using the tractor-trailer rigs from Wallace Hardware for a number of years to distribute supplies as they need to be distributed, and so this gift that they have given to us is just an example of not only their generosity but generosity of Tennesseans across the state.
Randy Davis: I learned a long time ago that Tennesseans do not give to excess, but when they give, they give generously to need. I think that Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief has proven time and time ago that they’re going to be good stewards, and they’re going to go the extra mile in serving hurting people and introducing people to Jesus Christ, so we’re real thankful for the donation of the Wallace Hardware truck.
Chris Turner: Yeah. We’ve seen that, what you’ve said, certainly in relation to disaster relief giving through a very busy two years that we’ve had but also through Golden Offering and just the significant increase we’ve seen over the past few years with Golden Offering. Then, even Cooperative Program, we’ve seen some numbers there, so there are some signs there that Tennessee Baptists are seeing the needs across Tennessee and beyond.
Chris Turner: When we talk about reaching Tennessee and reaching the nations and changing our world, we’re pretty proud of some of our guys here as Tennessee Baptist Mission Board state missionaries and then some of our pastors that have gone beyond Tennessee to help out our neighbors to the north in Kentucky. Talk a little bit about what has transpired with Tennesseans in Kentucky.
Randy Davis: Well, I think in the big picture, Tennesseans are being used for the Lord all across the US and across the globe. William Burton, our ethnic specialist, has spoken from Alaska to Texas. Roc Collins, our director of our five objectives, has preached in Oklahoma and South Carolina and Alabama and other states. Just this past last week at the Kentucky Evangelism Conference, you had three other speakers were from Tennessee. Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue preached there, was the keynote speaker. Larry Robertson from Hilldale Baptist Church in Clarksville, and then the director of our evangelism efforts from the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, Dr. David Evans, also preached there in Kentucky.
Randy Davis: I think it’s a compliment to the kind of people we have in Tennessee that others beyond our state are saying, “Would you mind coming and preaching for us?”
Chris Turner: Well, and we’ve also … The three people you mentioned, they are evangelists, so there’s definitely a level of pride there in that, but do you see across our state that there is a bit of a revival in some respect related to evangelism? We’ve put a lot of emphasis on that, especially with our first objective of seeing 50,000 people come to Christ, and we’ve talked a lot about win Tennessee, pray for Tennessee over these past two years. Do you see some momentum moving in that direction with just more people at least talking about evangelism?
Randy Davis: Well, I think that’s where our momentum is. Our momentum is not yet in the numbers, but we see the ship turning. We see people talking about it. We’re seeing some very practical tools being applied in helping equip our members and being able to enter into gospel conversations with some confidence. I do think that there is a revival coming. I think we’re in a very dry and thirsty time spiritually, but I see the revival coming.
Randy Davis: I know in East Tennessee, Dr. Dean Han has been one of the leaders in leading about nine associations in a multi-county area in an evangelistic crusade that’ll be going on at the end of April and on into May. I’m already hearing, even though we’re still more than a month away from that crusade, I’m already hearing so many God stories coming out of the preparation for that crusade. The main thing is you’ve got pastors and directors of missions from across some denominational lines working together for the good of the gospel, and I think the impact from that revival going on in East Tennessee is going to be felt across our state and really across the Southeast.
Chris Turner: Yeah. There’s some great things that are going on. I strongly encourage folks to go back one episode in our Radio B&R episodes and look for the conversation with Dr. Grant Gaines, Steve’s son who’s pastor over in Jackson, and just some of the intentional things that he said pastors need to do to reach the communities around their church and pick up some ideas there.
Chris Turner: Well, it’s definitely been a busy March. We have a busy April on the horizon with the WMU get together coming up in about a week or so, so we’ll look forward to catching up again at the end of April. In the meantime, we just need to keep reaching Tennessee.
Randy Davis: Amen. One person at a time.
Chris Turner: Thanks, Randy, for being here.
Randy Davis: Thank you, Chris.
Speaker 3: Thank you for listening to Radio B&R, a podcast production of the Baptist & Reflector, the official news journal of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. This and other episodes can be downloaded at baptistandreflector.org/radiobr. The ministries of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board are supported through the Cooperative Program and gifts received through the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions. For more information, visit tnbaptist.org.