Jody Schumacher knew she wanted to attend a school of evangelism; she just didn’t know which one. Soul-winning And Leadership Training (SALT), a partnership between Southern Adventist University and It Is Written since 2011, is just one of many such programs around the world, but Schumacher was struck by the response she received from SALT. Instead of trying to convince her to join the program, Douglas Na’a, SALT director, and Janelle Dietrich, outreach coordinator at the time, offered to pray with her.
“They both had sincere prayers that God’s will would happen, which was nice because they weren’t pushing that I had to be there,” Schumacher said. “If that’s where God wanted me, then that’s where they wanted me to be, too.”
When she started SALT in the fall 2018 semester, she felt comfortable right away. “The whole team felt like a family,” she said.
One of the reasons for this is the program’s structure, which groups students into cohorts for classes, and then pairs to go out into the community.
“It was really amazing to have worships with the same group of people every week, and to learn more about each other,” said Natalie Boonstra, junior public relations major and Schumacher’s outreach partner in the semester-long program.
Rhidge Garcia, who was the 2018-2019 Student Association (SA) president and graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in theology, particularly valued his experience with his SALT outreach partner.
“Our car rides together were some of the most transformative moments of my life,” he said. “I got to open up to him about some pretty deep stuff in my heart. He was a spiritual mentor to me.”
SALT’s purpose goes much deeper than simply creating a community of like-minded people.
“The goal of SALT is really ‘evangeliving’ rather than evangelism,” said Alan Parker, D.Th., religion professor and director of Southern’s Pierson Institute of Evangelism, as well as one of SALT’s founders. “It’s the idea that no matter what profession you are in, you can learn skills so that you can share your faith without losing your friends.”
Over the course of the semester, each student receives a Bible-work certificate. While only 10 to 15 percent of SALT students become full-time Bible workers, the program’s focus on living the call to evangelism means that graduates carry the Gospel into their daily lives.
“While serving as SA president, I was able to give Bible studies to one of my cabinet members, thanks to the preparation SALT gave me,” Garcia said.
In addition to hands-on experience, coursework helps equip students to spread the Gospel, including classes on leadership, prophetic study, Christian witnessing, and Christian beliefs.
Through SALT, students start to see that there are no coincidences as they witness individuals’ lives transformed by taking part in Bible studies.
“It showed me that God is truly real, first and foremost because of the divine appointments I saw going door to door,” Garcia said. “People’s lives were changed with no explanation but Jesus.”
Schumacher met many people who told her they were seeking God in prayer just before she knocked on their doors.
“Some of the most amazing experiences were when people would say, ‘We’ve been waiting for you,’ ‘We’ve been praying God would send someone,’ or ‘You came just in time,’” she said.
Having completed the SALT program, Schumacher has returned to her home church, and is engaging church members in evangelism. This summer she used her Bible-work certification at summer camp in Alaska. She believes that SALT has helped prepare her for God’s plan in her life.
“It really has changed who I am,” she said. “Whether I’m in North Dakota, Tennessee, or Alaska, evangelism is a part of my life.”
To learn more about the SALT program, visit southern.edu/salt.
is a recent English graduate of Southern Adventist University.
Southern Adventist University | August 2019