In 1954, on Thanksgiving evening, I made my calling to preach known to the Black Oak Baptist Church in Gary, Indiana. I knew I was saved. I knew Heaven was my eternal home. And I knew I had a desire to tell others about Christ. I remember saying to Derwood Humble—the person who prayed with me at the altar that night—“I know that God has called me to preach, but I don’t know how I can do it.”
He answered, “Don, how did you get saved?”
I said, “By the grace of God.”
His reply was simple yet profound, “If you ever preach, it will be by the grace of God.” That was great advice in 1954, and it is great advice in 2017.
Our church was very evangelistic. We had people saved regularly. We had great evangelistic meetings. However, I never heard the word soulwinning.
In November of 1955, Virginia and I moved back to our hometown of Nortonville, Kentucky with plans to enter Bethel Baptist College in Hopkinsville. Before the winter semester started, I had been called to pastor two part-time churches.
The Johnson Island Baptist Church had preaching on each second and fourth Sunday. The Silent Run Baptist Church had preaching on the first and third Sunday. I was pastoring two rural churches, but I had never heard the word soulwinning.
In April of 1956, we had a spring revival at the Silent Run Baptist Church. David Brown was the evangelist. On Tuesday afternoon Brother Brown and I went visiting people to invite them to the revival. (That was what I thought the purpose of visiting was, but God had a different plan.) We visited a home where the mother and daughter were members of our church, but the husband and son had not been saved. As Brother Brown began talking with Ruby Jackson, he was not inviting him to church. He asked him if he was saved. Ruby replied he was not. Brother Brown then asked if he would like to be saved. Mr. Jackson replied he would.
David Brown said to Mr. Jackson, “Ruby, let me take my Bible and show you how you can know you are saved and going to Heaven.”
In my mind I thought that somewhere in the conversation he would tell Ruby Jackson to attend church that evening where he could be saved. I had never heard of anyone being saved anywhere other than at the church altar.
Brother Brown used the “Roman’s Road” (which I had never heard of) to lead Ruby and his son Bobby to the Lord. That day I caught soulwinning. Brother Brown did not teach me, I caught it from him.
A few weeks after the meeting, I was at church one Saturday studying my Sunday sermon. God brought to mind a lady that attended Sunday school every week with her daughter but never stayed for preaching. She was in my wife’s Sunday school class. Many of the ladies were burdened for Mrs. Edmondson. I began going over the verses in my mind that Brother Brown had used in Mr. Jackson’s home.
I thought, “I am going to Mrs. Edmondson’s house to show her how to be saved.”
I can even now remember with fear and trembling getting into my car and driving down that country road to her house. When I arrived, I immediately began thinking it was probably not a good time.
However, I stepped out of my car and headed for the front door. I knocked, then waited. When she came to the door, I noticed she had been crying. Through her tears she said to me, “Brother Don, I am so glad to see you. I have been listening to Pastor Utley preaching on the radio. I need to be saved.”
She and her daughter came out of the house and sat on a porch swing. I sat in a chair near the swing. I opened my Bible and went through the plan of salvation and both of them bowed their heads and trusted Jesus as their Saviour.
I have never gotten over the wonderful joy of showing people how they can know that they are saved and going to Heaven. I pastored churches in Kentucky for eight years and had the glorious privilege of leading people to the Lord on a regular basis.
In 1963, I became the associate pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Harvey, Illinois. My primary job was outreach. I was able to see a great number of people saved through my personal soulwinning ministry and had the joy of taking others with me. I watched as person after person in our membership caught soulwinning.
In 1965, Virginia, Renee, Tim, and I went to Japan as missionaries. Contrary to what some missionaries had told us, soulwinning worked even in Japan. We saw many people come to know the Lord.
We had a Shinto priest and his family accept Christ. One night we were able to give the plan of salvation to a seventy-six year old man and see him bow his head to ask Jesus to be his Saviour.
In 1974, I became the Far East Director of Baptist International Missions, Inc. When I was home on visitation night at Highland Park Baptist Church, I always went soulwinning. In every church where I preached mission conferences I would go soulwinning with the pastor or other members of the church. In restaurants, motels, buses, airplanes, and many other places I have had countless hundreds of opportunities to take the Bible and show people how to be saved.
After I became the President of BIMI, pastors would often say to me, “Dr. Sisk, you are a busy man. You do not need to come out soulwinning.”
My reply was always, “I am never too busy to go soulwinning.”
After my resignation from BIMI, Virginia and I moved to Lancaster, California. In the thirteen years we have served at West Coast Baptist College, I have had the great joy of going soulwinning, sometimes several times a week.
Soulwinning works in any geographical location, in any culture, with all ages, and all classes of people. I am and will be eternally grateful for the day I saw David Brown take a Bible and show Ruby Jackson how he could know that he was saved and going to Heaven.
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalm 126:5). With a burdened heart, I have sowed the precious Word of God in thousands of places, and I rejoice that God has used it to bring many to Him.