Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship is a ministry of ABWE – the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. www.abwe.org

Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship (E&D) began in 2005 in order to equip ABWE missionaries for worldview relevant evangelism and discipleship in a broad range of cross-cultural settings, throughout North America and around the world. Soon after Good Soil began, pastors and other leaders from North American churches and missionaries from other mission agencies began to be interested in Good Soil training and resources. And we have always welcomed these opportunities to share Good Soil training with theologically like-minded churches and other ministry organizations.  As a result of this interest from many churches and other parachurch ministries, our vision for Good Soil has broadened to embrace a wider array of worldview relevant ministry opportunities.

Currently, Good Soil training and resources are being used in many countries by North American missionaries representing numerous mission agencies.  But some of the greatest impact worldwide is being accomplished through (not-North American) national believers who utilize Good Soil training and resources through their own initiatives.

Eight Essential Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship Distinctives

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Biblical and Theological Foundation

  • GSED leaders continue to deepen our Biblical and theological roots
  • Continue to expose our resources to Biblical and theological critique
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Worldview Relevance

  • GSED leaders continue to deepen our worldviews understanding
  • Apply worldview thinking to training and resource development
  • Continue to expose our resources to critique or worldview expertise
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Priority Baseline of Transferable Training

  • Emphasize the priority of training
  • Explore ways to expand our training reach
  • Expand our pool of Master Trainers
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Focused (Understand-Embrace-Retain) Resource Development

  • Maintain our focus on: U-E-R
  • Matthew 12:23 - Understands the Gospel
  • Mark 4:20 - Embraces the Gospel
  • Luke 8:15 - Retains the Gospel
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Selective Niche Marketing, Guerrilla Style

  • Select target-niches where GSED is most needed
  • Strategically and selectively choose where to invest marketing funds
  • Be alert to and take advantage of inexpensive marketing opportunities
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Double Vision with a Single Focus

  • International - don’t get sidetracked from our original purpose
  • North America - don’t lose sight of our opportunities to help North American believers and churches
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Missional-Business Balance

  • Develop and follow sound business practices
  • But don’t let business overshadow missions
  • Balance what we give away and what we sell
  • Establish price points based on cultural economic realities
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Professional Excellence (with a missional motive)

  • Standard = don’t let quality issues become an obstacle to reaching elite professionals in any field
  • Guiding question = How will Good Soil be viewed and recieved by professional educators, and trainers, theologians, designers, musicians, artists, videographers, etc?

Our Leadership

Wayne Haston

Executive Training Director (Retired)

Wayne grew up in the middle Tennessee town of Sparta, where he graduated from high school in 1965.  In 1966 he enrolled in Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, majoring in Bible and English.

In July of 1970, Wayne married Sharon McCoy. Sharon grew up as a missionary kid (MK) in Costa Rica and Mexico.

After their marriage, Wayne continued his studies, at the Temple Baptist Seminary of Chattanooga where he earned Master of Religious Education, Master of Divinity, and Doctor of Religious Education degrees. 

Local church ministry was a major part of Wayne’s life from 1966-1995.  During his college years, he served as an assistant to the pastor of his home church in Sparta.  From 1970-1979, he was youth pastor of the Franklin Road Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, TN.  During the years of 1979-1995, Wayne served as the Christian Education Director of the Grace Baptist Church in Chattanooga.

In the fall of 1973, Tennessee Temple University and Temple Baptist Seminary invited Wayne to join their faculties as a full-time teacher.  In 1975 he became the seminary’s Chairman of Christian Education, which position he filled for the next twenty years.

In 1995, Wayne joined the staff of ABWE as the Director of ABWE Media Ministries. Having completed his course work for a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Tennessee, Wayne completed his dissertation 1997 after joining ABWE. 

In 2001, Wayne was asked to assume the role of ABWE’s International Training Director.  He continued in that role until May 2015, at which time he semi-retired.  He continues to serve in ABWE, primarily focusing on Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship training and resource development.

Wayne has produced several published works, including the Youth Worker’s Training Course, and Philosophy of Christian Education, both self-study courses. He also published Christian Philosophy of Life, a video course, and Adult Sunday School Ministry: The Dynamics of Successful Classes.  He co-authored The Story of HopeThe Way to JoyThe Roots of Faith and other resources for Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship.  He has trained missionaries and national believers in about 30 countries.

Wayne and Sharon reside in New Cumberland, PA, and have three daughters (Faith, Carissa, & Celeste), two sons-in-law (Ben & John), and seven grandchildren (Kyrie, Davis, Katrina, Truett, Nolan, Ezri, & Ember).

Gil Thomas

International Director of Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship Ministries

Gil grew up attending Bethel Baptist Church in Erie, Pennsylvania, and at the age of 12 trusted Christ as Savior. Filled immediately with desired to serve Him, Gil worked for six years at Bethany Baptist Camp in western New York, serving as junior counselor, dishwasher, program director, lifeguard and finally as the assistant director. It was there that his love for ministry was born and cultivated, which led him to Baptist Bible College in Pennsylvania.

Gil was heavily involved in music while at BBC. He sang in the Concert Choir, Chamber Singers and also playing and singing in the Collegians Brass Quintet. After his sophomore year, he spent a year away from school, traveling with the Quintet. During that year God impressed upon him the need for church planting, so when he returned to school he majored in missions. During his last two years, Gil served as part-time pastor of youth and music in Binghamton.

After graduation in 1982, Gil served as an interim pastor for seven months before going to Grand Rapids, MI, where he studied at the Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, and then entered the Calvary Baptist School of Church Ministries. It was at Calvary that Gil met Denise and they were married in 1983. 

After the year-long internship at Calvary, Gil and Denise joined ABWE in 1984. They began their first term of missionary service in 1986. During the next 23 years, Gil was integrally involved in starting 4 churches in Portugal and served as the Team Leader 14 of those years. He helped to start GDL (Leadership Development Group, ABWE’s Bible and Pastoral Training Schools in Portugal), served as chairman of its board and taught several classes. Also during his service in Portugal, Gil helped to train missionaries in European countries. During his time as a missionary, Gil received a Master of Ministry degree, graduating with highest honors.

From its inception in 2004, Gil has been involved in the Core Ministries Institute of ABWE; planning curriculum, teaching, and administering. In 2008, Gil brought his experience in working with teams and training missionaries to Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship.  

As the International Director of Good Soil Ministries, he trains people all over the world and develops evangelism and discipleship resources. Two of his books are Gaining Ground with Good Soil and Reflections from God’s Story of Hope. He received a Doctorate of Ministry in Leadership Training from Clarks Summit University in 2016.

Randy Southwell

Midwest Trainer/Representative for Good Soil Evangelism & Discipleship Ministries

Randy grew up as a third generation missionary kid in Brazil and Portugal, but it wasn't until he attended Cedarville College in 1989 that he sensed the Lord leading him to the mission field as well.  At Cedarville he met Sarah.  Sarah grew up at Emmanuel Baptist Church of Toledo, OH, attending the Christian school there.

After they were married, Randy pursued his Master of Divinity at Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary.  During the next four years they were the junior high youth leaders at their church, Grandville Baptist, and had two girls Victoria (1994) and Elaina (1997).

In 1997 they joined ABWE and in 1999 headed to the field of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil with their daughters and son, Lucas who was born during pre-field in 1998.  For 18 years they served as church planters in south Brazil.  During this time, their second son Zachary was born in 2004 in Brazil.  Randy was also involved in leadership training and it was in Brazil they were first exposed to Good Soil Evangelism & Discipleship.  The training and resources were a key part of their latter years of ministry in Brazil and yielded much fruit.  Randy began to be involved in training others around Brazil.

In 2018 Randy joined the Good Soil team.  As the Midwest Trainer the Southwells reside in Grand Rapids, MI.  Randy trains people all over the Midwest, at ABWE's home office several times a year, and missionaries and nationals around the world.

If you would be interested in having the Good Soil training done in your area you can contact him at randysouthwell@hotmail.com or randy.southwell@abwe.org.

Edie Cunningham and Karen Weitzel 

Resource Developers for Ministry with Children

Edie Cunningham and Karen Weitzel serve in a strategic role as writers for the Good Soil Evangelism & Discipleship department. In 2007, they moved from Pennsylvania to Maine and founded PROPEL MINISTRIES, where they write for their website www.teachkidstoday.org (this website provides teachers worldwide with free Bible curricula and Christian Education resources). They also lead Christian Education workshops and teach during special programs for churches, Bible camps, school chapels and retreats.

Edie and Karen have presented their signature family dramas hundreds of times in numerous settings and have lead teacher training sessions in the USA, the Philippians, and several islands of the Caribbean.  While traveling to over 25 countries, they have served both missionaries and national believers.  Their goal is to produce effective curriculum for nationals who seek to reach others for Christ.

Karen Weitzel   Education:  Graduate of Glen Cove Bible College, Bachelor of Religious Education; and Graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Karen served at Bible Visuals International for 33 years (1974-2007) as an artist, writer, editor, and for the last 19 years as BVI’s Executive Director. She moved BVI’s publishing ministry into the digital age and coordinated numerous translation projects, working closely with national believers and missionaries. Through her international Publishing Enablement effort, Karen grew the use of BVI publications to nearly 90 languages.  It reached across all the time zones of Russia, throughout the French-speaking countries of West Africa, and into the Arabic speaking countries of North Africa.

Edie Cunningham Education:  Graduate of New Brunswick Bible Institute; Graduate of Toccoa Falls College, BS in Christian Education; and Temple Baptist Seminary, ten credits hours.

Edie served at Child Evangelism Fellowship for 19 years (1973-92). During that time, she was assigned to the Northeast Regional Office and was instrumental in restarting the ministry of CEF of Connecticut in the 1980s.  She also served under Karen Weitzel for 15 years (1992-2007) as BVI’s Associate Director. She enjoys creative writing and performing various roles in the dramatic monologues and dialogues that she has written. 

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