Greater than any anxiety in proclaiming the Gospel, however, is his fear of remaining silent.
"For 16 years, I was a Christian, and I never told one person about Christ," said Simmons, who placed his faith in Christ as a teenager. With no one to disciple him, he "drifted away from Christ" for many years. In 2009, however, God opened his eyes to people's need for the Gospel.
"I was very much chasing the American way of life," Simmons said, until he began to realize "I did not want to meet my Maker one day and say, 'You know, God, I sure did make a lot of money.'"
Simmons had no idea how to tell others about Christ, so he enrolled in a "Share Jesus Without Fear" class at church. He bought a "Share Jesus Without Fear" New Testament and has carried it in his pocket ever since.
The following day, May 20, 2009, Simmons led one of his best friends to the Lord. Since then, God has used him to lead numerous others to faith. He records their names in the back of a Bible that he uses during his personal devotions and study, so that he will pray for and encourage those who have made decisions to follow Christ.
He said about 90 people have prayed to receive Christ in the past couple of years, but one name on his list bothers him, reminding him of the urgency of sharing the Gospel and of the fearful consequences of remaining silent.
"Ed Freeman, right here, was a salesman that I worked with who had cancer. He was a good friend of mine," Simmons said in recounting how he shared the Gospel with Ed.
"Ed was in hospice at that time, and he became coherent long enough for me to share and for him to pray to receive Christ, and a few minutes later he went home.
"It is a good story. It is great, but it bothers me, too, because Ed was that close. ... I had almost talked myself out of it. ... I had talked to some of the guys that went to go visit him, and he didn't even know who they were because of the morphine. ... But I was able to talk with him, and he became completely lucid long enough, and after he prayed, he went out again."
This experience compels Simmons to share the Gospel wholeheartedly despite the busyness of his studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. After moving to Fort Worth to begin classes last fall, he immediately found opportunities to proclaim the Gospel. Brandon Kiesling, a fellow student, asked him to help lead students in Southwestern's effort to reach those who live within a one-mile radius of the campus. Three times a week, Simmons visits the nearby Times Square Apartments to share the Gospel and has established Bible studies at the complex for new believers who desire to grow in their faith.
"God has given me the gift of evangelism, but I do not do well when it comes to discipleship," Simmons said, adding that his seminary studies have begun to lay the groundwork for how to make disciples. "So God really convicted me of that, and that is why I started setting up these different Bible studies."
Simmons' weekly visits to the Times Square Apartments also allow him to lead his family to follow the Great Commission. He takes one of his three daughters on each visit "so they can learn how to share the Gospel. ... We have the others praying for us at home."
On one occasion, Simmons' oldest daughter, Victoria, asked if she could share with the kids in the apartment complex, having seen the witness of her father and other seminary students.
"She was bold in it," Simmons said, noting that Victoria led three girls her age to place their faith in Christ that day.
"You can share the Gospel, but if you can train people to share the Gospel, it is just that much better," he said.
"I want growing up thinking, 'This is what we do, and it is strange not to share the Gospel.' I want them thinking, 'This is exactly what we're supposed to do.'"
Benjamin Hawkins is a writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, on the Web at www.swbts.edu.
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