The seventh annual Evangelism Impact took place February 3-5, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C.
After going virtual in 2021 because of COVID, hopes were high for meeting this year in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Plan A). Nearly 800 people had registered, but the pandemic had other ideas. The gathering was limited to just the pastoral staff (Plan B). The invitation list was limited further to just presenters and support staff (C), but eventually it was decided to host the event virtually (D) from the University City Church in Charlotte.
As the date drew near, word was received that one (E), then another (F), then yet another speaker (G) was unable to come. It became obvious that, with these challenges and more (H-I), something important was about to happen.
Thankfully, God’s hand (Plan J) is not shortened, nor is He surprised by obstacles. With mere hours before the keynote message on Thursday night, the other speakers and some local church pastors stepped up to fill the vacancies: Julio Flores; Ricardo Palacios; and the pastor of the host church, Jackie James.
The location for the Spanish track was shifted to the Conference Office, bandwidth logistics were modified, and equipment hurdles were jumped. The “perfect storm” was raging — changes of audience, changes of location, and changes of speakers. Glen Altermatt, Conference evangelism director, had every reason to throw in the towel. But, the University City Church willingly opened their doors, and by God’s grace, those who heard the messages were inspired and challenged.
From the opening meeting with Roger Hernandez, Southern Union ministerial director, to the final challenge by Richie Halversen, Southern Union church revitalization and growth director, God’s intervention was evident. Hernandez shared the Union-wide plan for reaching members who no longer attend. Entitled “RAMP,” the purpose is to train members to provide an easy access ramp back onto the Gospel highway. Churches were invited to study his latest book by the same name, RAMP. It contains information and recommendations for loving non-participating members into a full-life discipleship of Christ.
Halversen, with the same evangelistic fire that burned in the belly of his Uncle Ron, delivered a message about why none should let challenges defeat them. “God is still saving souls.” Preaching on the storm of Acts 27, he said, “In spite of all that is happening, I have faith that it will happen as God told me .… Though Paul is the prisoner, [he] is not a victim of his circumstances. He does not let his problems define him. He does not let his storm invade his spirit.” And for many, inflation, difficulty, and uncertainty must not deter them from holding fast to faith in God’s Word, and fulfilling His commission, proclaiming the everlasting Gospel to the world — because “God is still saving souls.”
The responses from those who viewed the live stream of Evangelism Impact 2022, or have viewed later on demand, show the determination of pastors, members, and churches to extend the loving call of Christ, and invite others to share eternity with Him.
Carolina | May 2022