Resort ministry servants earn right to share gospel : Thursday, July 1, 2004
July 1 2004 by Norman Jameson

Resort ministry servants earn right to share gospel : Thursday, July 1, 2004
Thursday, July 1, 2004

Resort ministry servants earn right to share gospel

By Norman Jameson
BSC Communications

Where crowds gather for recreation and leisure in North Carolina, Baptists are among them, ministering with a cup of cold water and other practical services that earn them the right to talk about intimate, spiritual things.

That generally means ministry in the oil and smoke of NASCAR races, beneath forest canopies in camp grounds, on the blistering sands of hundreds of miles of ocean beaches and at special events where ever they occur.

When tens of thousands from across America descended upon Kitty Hawk in December 2003 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Orville and Wilbur Wright's first flight, Baptists offered a variety of creative services that earned 125 volunteers the opportunity to present God's ultimate flight plan.

Baptist eagerness to seize ministry opportunity during this once-in-a-lifetime gathering of national flight enthusiasts and tourists to the local doorstep illustrates the overall concept of resort and leisure ministries, funded through the North Carolina Missions Offering.

Chowan Baptist Association Director of Missions Jim Pollard first perceived the potential a year before the event and solicited the cooperation of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, the North American Mission Board, Woman's Missionary Union, Baptist Men, North Carolina Aviation Ministry, Campus Ministries, Campers on Mission and churches in his association.

Representatives from all those organizations met to determine how they could best meet needs and gain access to the people - originally estimated by Park Services as 600,000 - who would flood the area and tax the available housing, restaurants, entertainment and camping facilities.

They realized when the Park Service closed the Kitty Hawk National Park at 5 p.m., each day thousands of families would have nothing to do for the evening. Because of the local summer resort characteristics, many of the restaurants were closed and there was no evening entertainment. So Baptists came up with several ways to minister. Among them:

* Offering evening entertainment for adults and children at a recreational facility owned by a local church. This included performers, drama, crafts, illusionists and a welcoming, wholesome place to hang out for a few hours at night;

* Establishing a presence in the First Amendment area that Park Service regulations require during such events;

* Distributing information about their services to hotels, which normally do not put such materials in their rooms, but which were eager to help for this event;

* Create a Flight Plan booklet, which gives maps to services and offers the plan of salvation and includes;

* A folding paper airplane that leads children through biblical passages toward faith;

* Distribute hundreds of goodie bags made by volunteers across the state to children who attend, each bag containing Scripture with desirable trinkets;

* Being Joe Pix cameramen, taking and posting free pictures of individuals on the Joe Pix Internet site. When the individuals look up their picture online, there are options to follow that eventually explain Jesus' plan of salvation;

* Manning a free food booth at the Manteo airport, where participants in the air shows and distinguished guests could get a snack and a smile and hear about God's flight plan;

* Volunteering to serve popcorn and coffee at a Chamber of Commerce booth across the street from the park when the Chamber could find no other volunteers.

Baptist volunteers worked within many restrictions as to where they could be and what they could distribute. But they still put into visitors' hands more than 20,000 Bibles, brochures and tracts; 5,000 cups of coffee and hot chocolate, 2,000 Scripture water bottles, 2,000 Christian buttons, 1,000 treasure bags and 1,000 bags of popcorn.

Restricted to a First Amendment area where busses unloaded across the street from the park, flexible Baptist volunteers soon found a service niche no one had anticipated.

Park security was very high because of the many high profile entertainers and politicians - including President Bush - who were making appearances. Dozens of tourists with favorite, practical and sentimental pocket knives either would have to throw them away, have them confiscated or bury them in the ground hoping to find them later.

Instead, volunteers - at the request of Rangers - established a system to check the knives for the day. At the end of the day, when people retrieved their knives, many offering payment, they were treated instead with a blessing and a good word.

"This is servant evangelism," said Pollard. "We find practical ways to show people the love of Christ by doing something for free, with no expectations. People are so astounded that we're doing this, they want to know why and that opens the door. We must earn the respect and confidence of people to earn the right to share the gospel."

North Carolina Baptist staff and volunteers every year secure that right before thousands of people who hear for the first time that God loves them and has a "flight plan" for their lives.

For information on how your church can promote and receive a North Carolina Missions Offering to support Baptist Men, Woman's Missionary Union, church planting and other special missions efforts, check out the web site at or contact Dan Euliss at 800-395-5102, ext. 121.

7/1/2004 12:00:00 AM by Norman Jameson | with 0 comments

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