Iorg challenges Gateway Seminary students to evangelistic fervor
ONTARIO, Calif. (Sept. 5, 2017)--Dr. Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary, announced during President’s Convocation August 31 the Seminary has opened a Billy Graham exhibit that celebrates Southern California crusades in 1949 (Los Angeles), 1963 (Los Angeles), 1969 (Anaheim), 1974 (Hollywood), 1985 (Anaheim), and 2004 (Los Angeles). The exhibit was created through a new partnership with the Billy Graham Library.
The 1949 Los Angeles crusade launched Graham into international prominence as a young evangelist. Scheduled for three weeks, the meetings were extended to more than eight weeks, with overflow crowds filling a tent erected downtown each night.
“The exhibit will help us remember and be invigorated by a rich heritage of evangelistic fervor and kingdom expansion in Southern California,” Iorg said during the service that opened the fall semester. “This area has been marked by successful evangelism crusades, including those by Billy Graham and Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Church in Riverside, Calif., whose annual crusade in Anaheim attracts 150,000 people.”
Iorg said Gateway’s evangelistic fervor was displayed by 40 students in two evangelism courses taught this past summer. Their work resulted in more than 160 gospel presentations, with 36 people receiving Christ. Afterward, one student led another 14 people to Christ during Vacation Bible School week at a local church.
“In spite of efforts like these, declining baptismal numbers indicate evangelism in the Southern Baptist Convention is on the decline,” he said. “There are a lot of macro reasons for that, but today we have to concentrate on the micro reason: We must be passionate about introducing people to Jesus.”
Iorg said we need fresh eyes to see people as they really are and not what they do or who they pretend to be. He concluded, “When emotional engagement intersects human need, passion for introducing people to Jesus is ignited.”
“How motivated are you to get people to Jesus?” he asked. “When you watch television, do you just see activists, protesters, and politicians — or do you see people as they really are — with needs, hurts, and personal struggles? More personally, how do you see people around you?”
Based on the response of religious leaders in Mark 2, Iorg warned the Seminary community about becoming part of any religious system that opposes people being introduced to Jesus. He lauded the four friends who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus and challenged the Gateway community to be more like them than the religious elite who questioned Jesus’ actions.
Iorg reported he recently attended a Harvest Crusade in Anaheim, featuring Greg Laurie, where “thousands streamed forward in the service to profess faith in Jesus Christ.” When he left the stadium, protestors were holding signs labeling the event “false Christianity” and listing the supposed theological shortcomings evident in Laurie’s message and methods. Iorg compared the protestors to the scribes in Mark 2.
“While those guys stood outside the stadium with their signs telling the rest of us the proper way to share the real gospel, the man in the arena gave his heart and soul helping people come to faith in Jesus,” he said. “We must be passionate witnesses, not detractors who attack others who are busy sharing the gospel.”
Iorg challenged the Seminary community to continue the tradition of evangelism in Southern California. “Engage with people around you, see them for who they really are, and lead them to Jesus the best way you can. The world needs Jesus, and they need to hear about him from you and me.”