By Will Hall, Message Editor
ALEXANDRIA (LBM) – Evangelist Bill Britt has been guided 40 years by the message of Luke 14:23 to “go out into highways and hedges” and share the Gospel, compelling him to go near and far to reach the lost with a message of hope.
The result has been multitudes of new believers who now enjoy saved souls from placing their trust in Jesus, but who also live saved lives because of the discipleship Britt ensures through such follow up activities as the seminary training of pastors to lead the new flocks that result.
A TEAM EFFORT
Britt is not alone in his ministry and he credits his wife, Wendy, for taking on critical out-front and behind-the-scenes roles that have helped Compel Outreach International change hearts with the Gospel, and, to alter the human condition of many through the aid of compassion ministries.
“She is the voice and face of COI with our sponsors for 200 orphans, and she keeps up with the orphans – how they are doing physically, and with their school,” Britt said. “She’s the point woman for taking care of their needs – raising money for school supplies, collecting clothing and more.
“These are important relationships and functions,” he said, adding, “and she has to put up with me.”
Importantly, Britt praises God for His guidance and favor.
“Counting my international work, we are probably on the road 45 weeks out of the year. We’ve seen the Holy Spirit move here in the state of Louisiana and we’ve seen many people saved and churches revived overseas.” Britt said. “We’re excited about all the doors God’s opened for us.
AS YOU GO
Britt’s ministry spans North America, Asia and Africa, with established works across the globe, but he is attentive to the call of the Holy Spirit to establish new harvest fields.
“This year we held our first crusade in Ethiopia,” Britt shared. “We flew into Addis Ababa which is the capital city and drove about seven hours down into the countryside. It was the first time many of the people in that village had seen Americans, and the first time they had had a crusade.
“It was a Friday, Saturday and Sunday crusade, and when we arrived Thursday evening, there were probably 2,000 to 3,000 people gathered to greet us,” he continued. “Because of the large number of people, they asked us to go straight to the crusade ground and have prayer with them and say a word about the crusade.”
Britt explained that local leaders had set up morning and evening services and that Pastor Gary Hanberry of First Baptist Church in Larose, Louisiana, and he divided up the workload to preach to 5,000 or 6,000 people at each session.
“The people would come early in the morning, and they would stay all day, and they would sit down in the hot sun with an umbrella on the ground,” Britt exclaimed. “Of course, we would have a break and come back in the afternoon, and they would be there again.
“When the decisions were recorded, we learned 4,000 or so individuals had given their lives to the Lord,” he added. “So, it was a powerful time and people were touched of the Lord in many ways.”
Britt also detailed how pastors and their congregations have been going “from house to house and village to village” visiting with all the new believers to invite them to their churches and to enroll them in discipleship studies and to be baptized.
“I think it has been a very successful follow-up,” Britt told the Baptist Message.
Compel has a presence in Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, conducting mass evangelism, hosting leadership training, planting churches and running schools, in all three combined, but India serves as its regional headquarters of sorts for Asia.
The ministry operates Compel Outreach Bible University in Tamil Nadu, India, hosting about 50 students each semester and having awarded degrees to almost 500 graduates since 2001.
“Initially, we were meeting in a church,” Britt said. “But so many students began coming that it was impossible to function properly there – with all the needs for housing, feeding, a library, educational spaces, and so on. So we were able to find some property and we began to pray that the Lord would provide the money to begin construction.
“Now, we have about eight different buildings there, including men’s and women’s dorms, a dining hall, a kitchen, a library and classrooms and the chapel is under construction,” he said. “We even have an area where pastors can come in who want to take courses, and they can live there for just a short period of time, maybe even just come four or five days a week and go back to their churches.”
Britt said that already students have planted four churches among 13 nearby villages with virtually no Gospel witness, “with the goal of having a dozen churches planted in the area.”
“There are feeding programs for the children, who are taught the Bible while they eat. We’re drilling water wells so that people can have clean water, and when they come get the water we share about the Living Water. We have an orphanage with 25 boys, and we’ve been doing that for probably 17 years now. We send our teams out all over India a couple of times a year, and they show the Jesus film, they preach, they do village-to-village evangelism,” Britt reported. “So we have a lot going on in India.
Compel is active in Africa, taking the Gospel across the continent, including into the countries of Burundi, Congo, Ethopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. However, Kenya serves as its headquarters for this part of the world, and it is “our primary focus,” Britt said, noting in particular the orphanage the ministry began.
“Including the children of the house parents, there are 208 children we feed, clothe and educate, in addition to providing a home,” he said. “And we take care of all of their medical needs. It’s a great opportunity to reach children, and the need is great.
“Nearly all the children in that orphanage are what I call double orphans — their mom and dad are both deceased, having died from malaria, AIDS, or maybe in tribal warfare,” he detailed. “Many of these children are out in the jungle foraging for food or they’re in the cities looking through trashcans or living on the streets.
“So, when they come to us, they’re diseased, they’re malnourished. A year later,” Britt contrasted, “you can’t tell it’s the same child because they’re getting good, balanced meals, they have a bed to sleep in, they have people to love on them and pray for them.”
Britt also emphasized the spiritual sustenance provided at the orphanage, mentioning the church services hosted there every Sunday, with up to 100 villagers also attending. When he had a recent privilege to preach there, 16 individuals surrendered to full-time vocational ministry he said, “And 12 of them were our orphans.”
So far, Compel has helped plant 59 churches in Kenya, Britt said, working with pastors to provide conferences and other training opportunities as well as study materials.
Britt’s telephone interview with the Baptist Message took place while he was in Mexico to conduct a youth camp.
“I’ve been doing this camp at least a dozen years,” he said, “and we come twice a year.
“We do a conference in February, and then we do the youth camp in July every year, and then we’ve been supporting the ministry of MITC, Mexican-Indian Training Center, since about 1995. We’ve been helping support some of the pastors and teachers here, so we’ve been all over Mexico preaching the Gospel and sharing the Good News of Jesus.
Britt has been just as prolific in his work within the United States, conducting more than 1,000 evangelistic events, including evangelistic crusades in Louisiana.
Just this year, Britt led a multi-church outreach with the North Central Baptist Association — preceded by nearly a year of prayer gatherings — that drew crowds of more than 700 each of four nights and witnessed 25 people make first-time professions of faith in Jesus as Lord, 35 individuals repent to restore their relationship with Christ, and 2 persons commit their lives to vocational ministry.
In 2016, Britt held a city-wide crusade in Morehouse – after eight months of prayer, planning, and preparation — at the open-air arena just outside Bastrop. More than 4,600 people attended the four mid-winter evening services, with 50 persons repenting to turn to Christ, 50 others repenting to return to Christ and 10 individuals surrendering their lives to full-time ministry.
But a 2015 crusade in Crowville holds a special place in Britt’s heart.
“We had a meeting in the Crockett Point Baptist Church where 197 people came to the Lord, and Joe Senn, who is now with the Lord was the pastor then, and when I got there, Joe told me that they had been praying and fasting for three months,” Britt recounted.
“On Sunday morning, it was evident that the Holy Spirit was already at work. Typically, about 250 people attended worship each Sunday back then, and about 400 were present that morning,” Britt recalled. “In fact, throughout the week about 400 to 500 people attended each service of the crusade, such that people were sitting out in the lobby. It rained most of the week, but folks really didn’t care.
“One of the powerful things that happened that week was the high school principal called the pastor and said we’re canceling the annual sports banquet because the young people said they’re not going to miss the revival to come to the banquet,” Britt said reverently, “and to me, that’s real revival.”
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
Britt said he was excited about the number of pastors he is meeting who really have a heart for evangelism and soul winning.
“They’re praying and we’re seeing people saved and baptized and, you know, now where I am in my ministry,” he said.
He is especially encouraged “to be friends with young guys that have a passion of soul winning. That’s been a very, very big encouragement to me to see that there are some young men on the scene that are carrying the torch.”
But, Britt also shared a word of caution, saying “time is short” and that every believer needs to be engaged in sharing the Gospel.
“The Lord is coming,” Britt offered as a reminder. “We’ve been hearing that all our lives, but we’re closer now than we’ve ever been, obviously.
“My point is that you can’t hire a pastor and a staff to win your community to Christ,” he underscored. “It’s going to take everybody in the church—Sunday School teachers, deacons, young people, children, everybody being mobilized to get out in their communities and win souls.
“We’ve gotten away from the basics for reaching our communities — some very simple methods Jesus modeled that for us,” Britt said. “He went from town to town preaching the Word, preaching about the Kingdom of God. He poured his life into these disciples. They prayed — He went from one prayer meeting to the next; and, he shared the Good News.
“If we want to reach the world for Christ,” he continued, “our communities for the Lord, we just need to get back to the basics of prayer, soul winning, preaching, teaching, sharing the love of God with people.
“The bottom line is,” Britt said in concluding. “We can have the most innovative, creative programs in the world, but if we’re not out there sharing the Gospel, I don’t believe the hand of God — the power of God — is going to be on any person or any church. That’s the key.”