By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA – Wayne Jenkins, who served 28 years as director of evangelism for Louisiana Baptists until his retirement Jan. 31, was remembered by family and friends as a soul winner whose passion for the lost continued up to his death Nov. 13.
“Wayne Jenkins was a blessing to Louisiana Baptists and beyond. His willingness to pour himself out for the Gospel, even during his lengthy battle with cancer, should challenge all of us,” said David Hankins, executive director for Louisiana Baptists. “His passion for people and willingness to try new ways to engage them with the Gospel is resonating in eternity.”
Keith Manuel, director of evangelism and church growth for Louisiana Baptists, said Jenkins was a major influencer on evangelism in the Southern Baptist Convention and for Louisiana Baptists.
“He was a classic director of evangelism,” Manuel said. “He didn’t just talk and ideate about evangelism. He was a practitioner. His life was dedicated to sharing the Gospel internationally, nationally, and locally. There will be thousands who received Jesus’ salvation, who stand before the throne of God worshipping the King of Kings for eternity, because of the witness and the work of Wayne Jenkins.”
A native of Baton Rouge, Jenkins surrendered his life to Christ at the age of 16. Soon after, he sensed a call to ministry.
Upon his graduation from Louisiana College, Jenkins served 25 years on church staffs in Texas and Louisiana, including Lake Lilly Baptist Church, Jonesville, First Baptist Church, Leonard, Texas, First Baptist Church, Broussard, First Baptist Church, Lafayette, First Baptist Church, Morgan City, and Cook Baptist Church, Ruston. Jenkins was serving as pastor of Cook Baptist in October 1990 when God called him to serve as director of evangelism for Louisiana Baptists.
Jenkins initiated a number of projects as evangelism director, but two were especially dear to his heart – annual mission trips to Brazil and the Harvest, the largest joint evangelistic effort in the state ever among Louisiana Baptists. Since taking the first group to Brazil for mission trips, Jenkins and other team members saw more than 100,000 people come to Christ.
HONORED AS A SOUL-WINNER
Louisiana College honored Jenkins for his soul-winning legacy during the 2018 state Evangelism Conference by forming the “Dr. Wayne and Martha Jenkins Center for Evangelism and Missions.”
The center will be a resource of information and inspiration for Louisiana College students and Louisiana Baptist churches interested in training and mobilizing people for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ at home and abroad. The center will sponsor events and activities directly related to evangelism and missions, including evangelism endeavors and mission trips undertaken by students and faculty, and will forge and enhance an ongoing partnership with the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s evangelism and missions initiatives.
“Louisiana College is indebted to Wayne Jenkins for his witness on behalf of our Lord and his love for the College as evidenced by the generations of his family who have attended here,” said LC President Rick Brewer. “We were privileged last January to launch the Wayne and Martha Jenkins Center for Evangelism and Missions, which will ensure that Brother Wayne’s commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ will continue to thrive through the programs and training of the Center.”
Sammy Tippit, one of Jenkins’ classmates at LC, said the friendship helped nurture his faith and passion to share Jesus with others. Tippit is an evangelist and founder of Sammy Tippit Ministries in San Antonio, Texas.
“God used Wayne mightily to share Christ with people around him as well as people around the world,” Tippit said. “He led Louisiana Baptists for nearly three decades to proclaim the gospel. However, it was much more than a job responsibility for Wayne. It was the passion of his life. He lived what he taught and trained churches to do the same. His heart wept for the world. He travelled to places like Hong Kong, Angola, and Brazil to preach the gospel and train others to do the same.
“Many Christian leaders in Brazil have contacted me since Wayne’s passing to tell me how God used him to impact their lives and churches,” he said. “I’m sure that Wayne will meet thousands of Brazilians in heaven because of the work he did there.
“Wayne Jenkins ran the race of life well and finished as a champion,” he continued. “I spoke with him immediately after the Southern Baptist Convention in June, and with voice trembling he said, ‘I just want to be used of God!’ He never stopped. During the last couple of months of his life, we prayed together almost daily. His heart longed for people to come to Christ as much as it did in those early days at Louisiana College. He finished well.”
PASSION FOR CHRIST, FAMILY
When he was not on the road sharing the Gospel or spending time with his wife, Martha, four daughters and sixteen grandchildren, Jenkins was involved with his Sunday school class as a faithful member of Philadelphia Baptist Church’s Horseshoe Drive campus in Alexandria. Philip Robertson said he was blessed to have served as Jenkins’ pastor.
“My life is one of the tens of thousands affected by Bro. Wayne’s spiritual legacy,” Robertson said. “I learned a lot about missions and evangelism from him. How do you serve as pastor to a spiritual giant like Wayne Jenkins? For me, it was mostly taking every opportunity to listen and learn from a man who I knew was a true man of God.
“Brother Wayne’s legacy has also tremendously impacted Philadelphia Baptist Church, including serving as a launch team member at our Horseshoe Drive location,” he continued. “Without a doubt he lived what he preached, and we will miss him.”
Carlos Meza, who participated in 18 of the 33 mission trips Jenkins led to Brazil, said he will remember the servant leadership modeled on the field.
“My beloved Brother Wayne, your love for missions and specifically Brazil, will forever be a guide for those who will follow,” said Meza, pastor of Calvary Spanish Mission in Shreveport. “Your keen wisdom, leadership and understanding of Evangelism have encouraged me to keep the flame burning. I have the assurance that one day I will see you again.”