Special Forces – Fort Scott, KS

Jim Van GelderenSpecial Forces Updates

This fall we had one week that just never filled. Our team had made arrangements to have a week off, when we received a call from Tim Roberts who has traveled with our ministry many times. Tim works with the youth group at his church in Kansas, and they asked us to come on short notice. It turns out the Pastor, Ben Heffernan, is new and also a former team member who traveled on the team in 2005. It was great to work with both of them again!

The team signed up about 170 teens and at least a third of them came to the evening rallies. Each night young people responded to the invitation!


One young man came out of the counselling rooms and when I asked him, “If you died tonight, where would you go?”, he responded with the answer, “Hell!” I reviewed the Gospel, and we both went to our knees. I encouraged him to believe on Jesus for salvation. He prayed out loud asking Jesus to save Him. I was so glad he left assured he was heaven bound.

I did follow up with another young man and when he began to answer the questions about his sin being gone, his going to heaven and Jesus being His Saviour, he began to cry. It was clear God had done a deep work in his heart!


Trystan recruited an older teen outside of Fort Scott HS with a group of his friends. He came the last night. During the game with about a second left in the game, he scored the winning basket. After the message, he did not respond to the invitation. Trystan tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “Want to talk about it?” He got up, went to the counselling room and was led to the Lord. When I followed him up, I noticed tears in his eyes.


On Wednesday afternoon Wyatt recruited a bus stop at the church. When the aunt showed up to get the teens, Wyatt talked to her as well. These teens came and all of them got saved during the three nights.


Jessica recruited a young lady from Fort Scott. She came on Wednesday evening and responded to the invitation after the Gospel message. When she was asked if she had come back to accept Jesus as her Savior, she replied, “No.” Jessica then asked her why she did come to the back. She said, “I want to be saved, but I know I can’t because of a belief I have.” She then went on to talk about her “belief” and how her parents had encouraged her to not talk about it and they tried to change her wrong beliefs. The young lady said she just couldn’t do that. In other words, she didn’t want to change her belief that she knew was keeping her from being saved. Jessica did go through the Gospel with another girl and had this young lady just listen. After all, there is power in the Gospel. The other girl prayed to get saved and then Jessica turned back to this young lady to ask her some questions. She said she understood what salvation was and that she wanted to go to Heaven, but refused to pray because of her wrong “belief.” Then silently praying for wisdom, Jessica continued to share some Scripture with her, thinking that this might be the only chance she had to turn her heart to Christ. Jessica felt desperate for her, but knew that GOD HAD to do the work in her heart! Jessica shared the story of the rich man and Lazarus to try to get her to understand that Hell was real and that no matter what her “belief”, it was not an eternal destiny that ANYONE would want. She left her with thoughts that God loved EVERYBODY and that being a Christian does not mean turning on her friends and joining a “haters’ club”. The young lady took the salvation counseling packet home and Jessica encouraged her to come back the next day. She assured Jessica that she would be back to the War of Special Forces the next day.

Jessica prayed all throughout the day for this young lady that she would not allow her sinful “belief” to keep her from salvation.

The young lady did come back Thursday evening and brought her brother and another friend with her. She again responded to the invitation. Jessica sat down with her and asked again, “Is God working in your heart?” She said, “I couldn’t stop thinking about it all night and I continued to think about it all day!” She was restless. However, her answer to salvation was still, “I want to get saved, but I can’t.”

Jessica shared with her the thoughts that “someday we will all stand before God and give account, and then it won’t matter what our friends think. So to base my eternal destination ‘because of hurting my friends’ is not a good reason to not be saved. And this is definitely not about ‘turning on your friends’. This is the next step to being a true friend – you can be used to show them the way to Heaven! God wants you to go to Heaven and He wants them to come, too!” It was then that she began to physically shake and Jessica could tell something was different – the Holy Spirit was working! She asked, “Could God save me, even though I want to keep believing this wrong way?” Jessica continued to tell her that “getting saved is not just a ticket to Heaven. It is then that we begin to have a relationship with God and out of thankfulness for His gift we want to please Him and not live the way we want to.” Jessica challenged her that this would mean a change of mind about her “belief”. It was here Jessica wanted to make sure the young lady understood what she was really going to be doing. “Do you really want to change that?” Jessica asked. She confidently nodded her head and said, “Yes, this is the decision I want to make. I want to get saved!”

Her prayer was precious! Jessica asked her if she was glad about her salvation decision and she said, “Yes, very glad!” I came in and did the follow-up questions with her and she answered everything correctly!

Friday evening she brought back her friend and brother and she even bought a team t-shirt! When I asked in the rally who had gotten saved that week, she happily raised her hand! Jessica wrote, “God is so gracious and His power amazes me when I think that He can change and save a sinner’s heart!”


When all was finished on Friday night, we saw that there were 24 salvation decisions. We thank the Lord for each one!

About the Author
Jim Van Gelderen

Jim Van Gelderen

Dr. Jim Van Gelderen is president of Minutemen Ministries, vice-president of Baptist College of Ministry, and evangelist out of Falls Baptist Church. He and his wife, Rhonda, travel the country in evangelism. They have three daughters.