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Fordham celebrates 35 years in evangelism

 

Randy Ray, pastor of Douglas Chapel Baptist Church near Nicholls, was exuberant over the recent revival in his church. Evangelist Keith Fordham and Music Evangelists Ron and Claudia Henderson ministered in the church as a part of the Baptismal Assistance Project.

Keith Fordham celebrated 35 years in evangelism Sept. 5. In addition to preaching in smaller churches through the Baptism Assistance Project, Fordham has for years served as a mentor through his leadership in the Conference of Georgia Baptist Evangelists (COGBE) and Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE).

The BAP is an evangelism plan provided by the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists to help churches that have had little success in reaching the lost. (See Baptism Assistance at www.sbcevangelist.org for additional information).

Fordham indicated that the Baptismal Assistance Program is for churches that have averaged three baptisms or less for three consecutive years – and that 26,000 SBC churches qualify for COSBE help through the BAP.

Fordham, who was the first Southern Baptist evangelist to preach in a church through the BAP, also expressed his delight over the meeting in Douglas Chapel where six people were saved and the church added three others by letter during the four-day revival emphasis.

One of Southern Baptists most effective evangelists, Fordham celebrated 35 years in full-time evangelism on Sept. 5.

Since his first revival the Fayetteville-based evangelist has preached in over 1,400 revivals and harvest days.

Fordham was saved as a child, but ran from God’s call to ministry for several years. In 1963 as an adolescent he went to a Christian camp near Chattanooga where he sensed God was calling him into full-time ministry. He admitted, “I wrote on a blank page in the back of my Bible that God had called me to full-time service.”

However, when he got home from the camp the luster of the experience began to wane. Fordham stated, “I tore the page out of the back of my Bible – the page upon which I had written my commitment to ministry. I threw it into the trashcan. I was as active in church as anyone you have ever seen and yet a million miles out of the will of God.”

Mononucleosis robbed him of playing football in the ninth grade and in the tenth grade Fordham suffered a broken leg. While many were praising him for his faith and Christian life, his pastor told him that the reason he was in a body cast instead of a shorter cast was because he was running away from God.

The pastor said, “God will keep you flat on your back until you get right.”

 

Fighting, answering

Fordham explained, “I fought that call until the first Saturday in December of 1967. On that morning I told my mom and dad that God was calling me. On Sunday morning at age seventeen, I went forward and took Dr. F.J. Hendrix by the hand and told him God was calling me to full-time service, but I did not know that it was to preach.

“I was willing to dig ditches, crawl through the sewers in Atlanta, be a missionary to Africa, or to do whatever God called me to do.”

Hendrix said, “God has called you to preach and we are going to license you today.” The church affirmed Fordham’s call to ministry and licensed him that very day.

“I preached my first sermon in January 1968,” Fordham declared. “It was pathetic. I did such a poor job that I told the Lord I would never preach again, but God intervened and I was asked to preach at youth night service at First Baptist Church Mountain View. I told the Lord I would preach if He would give me a sermon. He did, and heaven came down.”

Following high school Fordham prepared himself educationally for ministry by earning degrees from Samford University in Birmingham and New Orleans Seminary.

On Sept. 5, 1974 Fordham officially began the Keith Fordham Evangelistic Association. Since that time and long before the COSBE Baptismal Assistance Project, he has devoted one to four weeks every year to assist struggling churches that feel financially ill-equipped to have full-time evangelists for revivals. He is setting a standard of faithfulness that casts our Southern Baptist evangelists in a most favorable light.