Speaker wants people to be 'infected with evangelism bug'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Bible study author and speaker Jennifer Rothschild says she hopes the Crossover evangelism event preceding the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Nashville in June will cause people to discover a renewed passion for sharing the Gospel.

"My hope is that the participants will become infected with the evangelism bug -- that they'll realize that this is not as intimidating as it seems, that it will ignite in them excitement ... so that they'll go home contagious and infect their entire church," she told Baptist Press May 23.

Rothschild, author of the Bible studies "Walking by Faith: Lessons I Learned in the Dark" and "Fingerprints of God: Recognizing God's Touch on Your Life," published by LifeWay Christian Resources, will be a featured speaker during the Saturday evening Crossover rally June 18 at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Something that makes Rothschild's insights unique is that at the age of 15 she was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease that eventually took her sight. Through learning to face life without her vision, Rothschild has picked up some thoughtful and encouraging lessons to share with others who struggle with seemingly unconquerable obstacles suddenly placed in their paths.

By speaking at Crossover, she intends to cheer on those who will have participated in the potentially record-setting outreach event that already includes more than 12,000 registered volunteers because evangelism, she said, will not end that day.

"I grew up in a home where my dad was a pastor and I participated from my earliest memory in evangelism with him through bus ministry. I'd get up early with him on Saturday mornings and go out into the neighborhood and visit. So it has kind of been a part of my lifestyle," Rothschild said of intentional evangelism.

During the rally, Rothschild will share from her latest book, Fingerprints of God, as well as sing.

"The essence of the book is how our lives all bear God's fingerprints, how He has touched us. What I will be encouraging them to do is then to pass that touch along -- how we can become God's hands and as we touch others, we leave His fingerprints on their lives," she told BP.

Rothschild, who was raised in Florida and is now a member of Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo., said she considers growing up Southern Baptist a privilege.

"My earliest memories always involved the church," she said. "I had the privilege of having my dad as my pastor, so I got to see the life of Christ not just modeled in the pulpit on Sunday but modeled in my home during the week when dishes were being washed or when sick kids were being attended to or whatever. I just got to see the life of Christ modeled in a very hands-on way."

She also expressed gratitude for people throughout the years who have given through the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists' unified missions and ministry giving plan, so that she could benefit through curriculum, conferences and youth camps such as Centrifuge. Today, she owes most all of her spiritual development to such experiences, she said.

"All of those things that were invested in me -- through those unseen people I will never know who wrote curriculum and gave money -- I now am able to extend that touch in fulltime ministry that I received as a child, as a teenager and as a young adult," said Rothschild, who also is co-founder and publisher of the online magazine WomensMinistry.net. "I just think that's beautiful how God's work is always a wise investment because it brings multiple returns."

Fellow LifeWay Bible study author and speaker Beth Moore wrote the forward to Rothschild's book Lessons I Learned in the Dark and addressed how Rothschild allows God to use her ongoing struggle with blindness for His glory.

"Jennifer Rothschild is the real thing. She knows what she's talking about," Moore wrote. "She does not have the luxury of telling and retelling a testimony from years past of challenges long since resolved. She lives in present-tense, making daily choices to step over a plethora of seen and unseen obstacles. Jennifer is a living, breathing testimony still actively being written by the hand of God."

Because she cannot rely on her eyes, Rothschild has paid more attention to the spiritual concept of walking by faith and not by sight. She has identified some symptoms that a person is walking by sight instead of by faith, starting with being governed more by feelings than by faith.

"When you elevate your feelings more highly than your faith, that's pretty much an indication that you're walking by sight," she said. "Or when you're unwilling to take risks, unwilling to leave the comfort zone and step into the character zone, is pretty much a symptom of somebody who's walking by sight instead of by faith. Waiting on things from God, like blessing and deliverance, is a symptom of walking by sight. The person who walks by faith is content to simply wait on God and God alone."

Though it may seem abstract, the most practical thing a person can do to start walking by faith rather than sight, Rothschild said, is to constantly elevate faith higher than feelings. Once a person engages in that practical application, he or she will realize it's very concrete.

"Trust is something that we keep on the tip of our tongue. We say we trust God, but trust is only really known when it leaves the tip of our tongue and hits our tennis shoes and we walk by it," she said. "The practical way to walk by faith instead of by sight is to simply take a step. Don't just say you trust. Take a step of trust. Don't just say you feel like God is capable of fulfilling whatever it is that He's promised but instead act upon that promise and watch it be fulfilled."

Rothschild cited 2 Corinthians 4:18 as a verse that reminds her that what is seen is temporary.

"Most of the obstacles we encounter are seen obstacles, like a job loss or a wayward child or financial despair or cancer or blindness. Those are what we think are unconquerable obstacles, but because we can see them, the whole nature of that means that they are temporary," she said. "... And often what looks like an unfixable problem here or a stumbling block here is really just a stepping stone to see how God can work within and through and around what seems impossible to us."

People sometimes lose heart when presented with a seemingly unconquerable obstacle because they pray for God to remove the obstacle, thinking He could give victory if only He would take the challenge away.

"But really, sometimes the real victory is learned as we see God deliver us through -- not deliver us from that unconquerable obstacle but instead deliver us through that obstacle," Rothschild said. "And we realize victory is not in the removal of the problem but in walking by faith through that problem with our eyes fixed on the author and finisher of our faith rather than on the temporary problem."


For further information about Crossover Nashville, go to www.everyonecan.net. For more information about Jennifer Rothschild, visit her website at www.jenniferrothschild.com.

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