Corticelli’s Stiffler does it
over the telephone
By Brian Koonce
HANNIBAL – Even as the evangelism conference in northeast Missouri was getting underway, one Missouri Baptist sitting here in Calvary Baptist Church was able to lead one man to Jesus, even though that man was 800 miles away in Gainesville, Fla.
Ryan Stiffler, pastor of Corticelli Baptist Church in Russellville, was teaching a breakout session on the Evangelism Response Center (ERC). The ERC is a North American Mission Board (NAMB) ministry that allows people to share the Gospel over the telephone and Internet. The phone number is on a variety of materials across the Southern Baptist Convention and is on Missouri’s GPS (God’s Plan for Sharing) materials.
Stiffler is a telephone encourager and as part of training others to man the phones, he dialed in and let the ERC know he was ready and willing to talk to someone who was curious about Jesus.
A few minutes into the training, Stiffler got a call from a man named Leroy. Leroy was walking down the street in Gainesville and saw a sign with a phone number and a message of hope. Curious, he dialed the phone number. A few rings later, he was speaking with Stiffler.
“He was curious about this ‘hope,’” Stiffler said.
Soon, Leroy was convinced that Jesus offered him hope he needed.
“I’m ready for that,” he told Stiffler. “I’m ready to give my life to Jesus.”
Stiffler confirmed that Leroy understood the importance of his diecions, then took down his contact information and sent it in to the ERC, which forwarded the information to a participating Southern Baptist church in the Gainesville area for follow up.
“It’s an ingenious ministry,” Stiffler said. “It’s set up to lead someone to Jesus, but sometimes you get people needing assurance of their salvation or asking for prayer.”
The ERC is key to the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) GPS initiative. The MBC and several associations have purchased billboards and other media space, all pointing to the ERC’s phone bank or website.
“Romans 10:17 says that ‘faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,’ said Gary Taylor, MBC director of evangelism. “The ERC is one of the simplest methods people can hear the Gospel. All we do is the sharing. That’s what the ERC does so well.”
Last year, the ERC received more than 100,000 phone calls. Of those, roughly 1,500 resulted in salvation.
Stiffler has been a telephone encourager for five months, and gets several phone calls a week from people who have seen a sign or billboard with the number on it. Leroy was the fifth person he’s led to Jesus over the phone since September.
“Now with GPS, it’s going to explode,” Stiffler said.
For more information or to inquire about training to work with the ERC, contact the MBC Evangelism Office at 1-800-736-6227, ext. 650.