Doing the Work of Evangelism in Key West
Oct. 29 - Nov. 1, 2014, Rev. Chad Mullinix and three men from his congregation participated in evangelism training with Rev. Bill Welzien of Keys Evangelistic Ministries and Keys Presbyterian Church (OPC). Each of them has shared his reflections on this experience, below.
My brief stay at Keys Evangelistic Ministries was nothing short of life changing. Three of us from our congregation, Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church, accompanied our pastor on a trip to Key West for evangelism training. I did not know what to expect, so I was struck when I witnessed Pastor Bill Welzien's gospel presentation in Mallory Square the first night. I had seen various methods in my time as a Christian but none so captivating, so clear, and so comprehensive.
As Jesus Christ came more and more into focus, tourists and other passersby started to peel away from the crowd; and yet, some stayed. Some had questions afterwards, others quietly took a tract and slipped away as the sun retreated over the horizon.
The days of instruction and fellowship that followed were both profitable and encouraging to my soul. I don't know if I will ever be able to share the gospel in the manner that Pastor Bill does, or as well as he does, but I do know that I want to evangelize more than ever before. As useful as the classroom experience was, perhaps the part that impacted me the most was simply spending time with Pastor Bill and seeing what faithful witness looks like in flesh and blood - and in one of the darkest corners of America.
I was very encouraged by Pastor Bill's stories of how he started his ministry in Key West and how his initial fears gradually turned to boldness as the Lord strengthened his will and softened his heart for the lost. Only God could stir a man to do what Pastor Bill does three times a week. I recall asking Bill if he ever felt like skipping a night of open-air preaching in Mallory Square. Surely this man who has swum around the island 63 times took a night off from time to time. "How could I not do this?" he replied. "This is a privilege."
It was a privilege for us men from Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church to learn from an evangelist like Bill. I personally hope to use his method of sharing the gospel to witness to others, starting with my unsaved coworkers.
I thank God for my time at Keys Evangelistic Ministries and for His servant Bill Welzien. “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Rom. 10:15)
May we be used like Pastor Bill as we are faithful to the Lord of the harvest!
First off, I want to thank Pastor Bill Welzien and Keys Evangelistic Ministries for their hospitality in allowing us to stay in their building, and Pastor Welzien’s family for opening up their home to all of us.
During our stay in Key West, I was amazed to see Pastor Welzien’s faithfulness to Gospel ministry and his efforts to ensure that everyone in the town gets an opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Having the opportunity to go to Mallory Square with him two times was such a blessing to my soul. It was truly a beautiful experience to witness the true Gospel boldly proclaimed without apology.
I recall a conversation with Pastor Welzien one evening while he was setting up his gospel presentation. I asked him how long he has been faithfully going down to Mallory Square to preach in the open air, and he responded “three times a week for over twenty years.” I remember considering the amount of dedication and love for the lost he must have deep within his heart and soul to consistently do this day in and day out. Pastor Welzien told me that he lets nothing get in the way of his time at Mallory Square proclaiming the Gospel message. He said that what he does in Mallory Square brings him joy and fulfillment. He even preaches after taking a swim around the entire island of Key West! I remember thinking to myself that if he doesn’t even take a day off to allow his body to recover from a swim of that duration, this man is truly obedient to the great commission given by our Lord and Savior, and knows that if men do not hear the Gospel they cannot be saved (Romans 10:17)!
After our conversation, I was immediately convicted in my heart of all the opportunities I have had to go out and bring God’s gospel to those perishing, but my tired flesh has convinced me to stay at home and rest instead. This trip down to Key West to meet and learn from Pastor Welzien was something the Lord has used in my life to get me fired up and eager to go out and tell the world of the joy I have in my heart through the abundant life I have been given in Christ Jesus!
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Roman 1:16
Deacon Anthony Burgos
We know the apostle Paul writes to Timothy that, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way.” (1 Tim. 4:8a) This, in many ways, sums up my trip to Key West to visit with and receive training from OPC Rev. Bill Welzien of Keys Evangelistic Ministries.
For those who don’t know, Rev. Welzien has taken 1st place in the Key West Athletic Association's 12.5 mile Annual Swim Around Key West from 2001-2004, and has swum around the island personally over 60 times!
For the past 28 years, when Rev. Welzien isn’t covered in a thick coat of zinc oxide, running 5k’s, shepherding the flock at Keys Presbyterian Church OPC, or raising his family in the fear and admonition of the Lord, he’s comfortably situated between a fire juggling unicyclist and a tight rope walker, faithfully presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to hundreds of people each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Mallory Square’s Sunset Celebration.
In all this I’ve learned that whether it’s in physical training or in evangelism, a key (no pun intended) factor is commitment. Not just in theory but in action. We must commit ourselves to be intentional about actually doing the work of evangelism. It is one thing to say we want to share our faith with others, but Rev. Welzien taught me that you must go out and do it, and do it with endurance, consistency, and confidence - bathed in prayer and in reliance upon the grace of God. Otherwise, the amazing news that Christ died to save sinners would not go forth to the four corners of the world.
Pastor Chad Mullinix
“Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?” (Prov. 20:6) Monday after Monday, Wednesday after Wednesday, Friday after Friday for well over 20 years there has been a man poised with his back to the sunset at Mallory Square proclaiming a message of steadfast love. Unlike the ‘many a man’ of this verse, however, Pastor Bill Welzien proclaims the steadfast love of another – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Amid the clamor of a tight-rope walker, fire-juggling unicyclist, and an assortment of other performers announcing their own abilities, one man proclaims the good news about Jesus’ faithfulness. This is no watered-down ‘gospel,’ but the proclamation of the Son who was faithful to obey all His Father’s holy will, even to the point of dying on a cross to pay the debt of the unfaithful! You will hear no plea for money from this pastor – just the plea for every man, woman, boy, and girl to forsake their own claims to self-righteousness and to find their right standing before God by simple faith in the faithful Son of God who was raised from the dead.
The biblical irony in this frequent scene at Mallory Square is that a faithful man can be found there! Though certainly not faithful in and of himself (as I know he would readily acknowledge), I found a faithful minister of the gospel who has so steadily proclaimed Christ from the Scriptures in Key West Monday after Monday, Wednesday after Wednesday, Friday after Friday for well over 20 years that he has earned the island-title “Bible Bill.” So this is my humble prayer – that I might somehow by God’s grace be found faithful by my faithful Savior, in union with my faithful Savior, proclaiming my faithful Savior.
Click here to read more about evangelism training in Key West!