The Southeastern Conference (SEC) and Breath of Life (BOL) Television Ministries recently partnered for a city-wide evangelistic effort in Tampa, FL from July 21 – August 8, 2018. Pastors and lay people from churches throughout the Tampa Bay area collaborated to execute this major effort.
SEC President, Pastor Gregory Mack, initiated the effort with an expressed desire to plant a new church in the city of Tampa. SEC administrators then reached out to BOL Speaker/Director, Dr. Carlton P. Byrd, to inquire about the potential for partnership. Long time members and pastors of SEC recounted the first BOL revival in Tampa in 1982 where 88 persons were baptized through the preaching ministry of former BOL Speaker/Director, Pastor C.D. Brooks, and the BOL Team.
This summer, BOL came full circle. The revival was once again held at the Mt. Calvary Church where Pastor Curtis Crider serves as Senior Pastor. Pastor Crider remarked on the strategic partnership and opportunity saying, “Mount Calvary offered the largest facility (seating capacity: 1,200), a central location for a city-wide meeting, easy access to public transportation, and a familiar landmark to the local non-Adventist community.”
It was evident from the engagement of local pastors and lay volunteers that this initiative would be no different than BOL’s previous Tampa effort. Area pastors met regularly with Breath of Life team members and conference administrators for several months leading up to the revival. The pastors developed a task list of assignments for each person to address, then engaged local lay leaders and church members to fulfill these responsibilities.
In addition to local area pastors and members, the BOL team included Dr. Byrd, BOL staff members, and eight Bible instructors who canvassed the area leading up to the revival and connected with baptismal candidates during the nightly meetings. Among the Bible instructors were Theology students who were able to benefit from this unique field school experience. One student, Hastings Newbill, commented saying, “I learned…evangelism is the backbone of our church…if we don’t include evangelism, our churches would collapse.”
Dr. Byrd reflected on the this public evangelistic initiative by saying, “Beginning opening night (July 21, 2018), it was very apparent that the Spirit of God was going to be manifested in a powerful way! Ellen G. White says, ‘The secret of success is the union of divine power with human effort. Those who achieve the greatest results are those who rely most implicitly upon the Almighty Arm’” (Patriarchs and Prophets, 509).
The end result was worth all of resources and sacrifices that were invested. After five weeks of Bible instructors engaging in community field work, and three weeks of Dr. Byrd preaching, 113 individuals were baptized! Additionally, this new group of church members is being organized into a new Adventist congregation, constituting the 17th Breath of Life SDA Church planted as a result of the BOL ministry.
We look forward to continued growth from this new congregation and its members who have recognized the power of the gospel in their lives! Let’s continue to pray for them and the local ministry leadership team as they grow together in Christ.
By Christopher C. Thompson