It’s 9:30 on Sabbath morning, and Alethea Truman is already on her way to the newly planted Breath of Life Church in Tampa, Florida, where she is set to participate in the divine worship service. But, she is not simply reading Scripture or collecting the offering. On this particular Sabbath, she is scheduled to deliver the sermon. Most people would be terrified to stand in front of a crowd and deliver a message, but not Truman. She is a local elder at the Mt. Calvary Church in Tampa, and she is emboldened with a passion to speak for God.
After the sermon, Truman grabs a quick bite to eat, and then she hits the street with Peach Brooks, another member of the Mt. Calvary Church. Together, they are visiting contacts from the Breath of Life summer evangelistic revival who were never baptized. Although the revival netted 117 baptisms, follow up continues with those who may still be willing to make a decision to accept Jesus as their personal Savior and join the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
After conducting home visits, they head back to church for an afternoon Bible study with newly baptized members of the church and other individuals who are candidates for baptism. Following the Bible study, they talk to the new members about getting involved with evangelism.
Church Members Work City-Wide
These are just two of the many members who demonstrated a commitment to ministry and evangelism during the Breath of Life (BOL) summer revival in Tampa. While Carlton P. Byrd, Breath of Life speaker/director, was the nightly revival speaker, local members from the various Adventist churches in Tampa and the surrounding area worked together to execute the multiple ministry needs that were present before and during the revival.
Truman and Brooks, aligned with Breath of Life Bible instructors, went door to door “fishing” for prospective attendees for the revival. They then worked with the candidates and prepared them for baptism after the candidates made decisions to follow Jesus.
Additionally, lay ministry leaders from the Tampa area churches led in other ministry functions — children’s, ushers, greeters, and prayer ministries. Pat Smith, who led prayer ministries, coordinated with other area church prayer ministries leaders, and developed a prayer schedule and strategy for the revival, which included praying with visitors as they attended the revival about the specific needs they had come to seek God for.
The city-wide evangelistic effort, after months of preparation, was held on July 21 - Aug. 8, 2018. Pastors and lay people from churches throughout the Tampa Bay area collaborated to execute this major effort.
Gregory Mack, Southeastern Conference (SEC) president, initiated the effort with an expressed desire to plant a new church in Tampa. SEC administrators then reached out to current BOL speaker/director, Carlton P. Byrd. Long-time members and pastors of SEC recounted the first BOL revival in Tampa in 1982, when 88 people were baptized through the preaching ministry of C.D. Brooks, former BOL speaker/director, and the BOL team.
This past summer a revival was once again held at the Mt. Calvary Church, a centrally-located and easily accessible church seating 1,200. It was evident from the engagement of church pastor Curtis Crider, local pastors, and lay volunteers that this initiative would have similar success.
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 Byrd, BOL staff members, and eight Bible instructors who helped canvass the area leading up to the revival, and connected with baptismal candidates during the nightly meetings.
After five weeks of Bible instructors engaging in community field work, and three weeks of Byrd preaching, the new members were baptized. Additionally, this new group of church members is being organized into a new Adventist congregation, constituting the 17th Breath of Life Seventh-day Adventist Church planted.
Although it has been several months since the revival ended, these local church members are still on fire for the Lord. Brooks remarked, “The revival started a fire in Tampa that just won’t go out!”
These three women connect weekly with potential members who attended the summer revival. Truman has suggested that each member enlist their friends and neighbors in a Bible study course. Smith and Brooks have positively responded and begun a Bible study each Tuesday evening with about 10 individuals in Smith’s home.
At the conclusion of the Bible study series, they will hold a special graduation ceremony for Bible students at an upcoming community guest day at the church.
These members have an infectious passion for ministry and evangelism. Their faces light up when they talk about ministry and soul winning. Brooks summed up their energy succinctly, saying with a gleaming smile, “I’m mission-driven!”
— Christopher C. Thompson is the communications and marketing director for Breath of Life Ministries in Huntsville, Alabama. A version of this article appears on the Southern Tidings website.