Hundreds saved during SBC Crossover
June 15 2001 by James Dotson , Baptist Press

Hundreds saved during SBC Crossover | Friday, June 15, 2001

Friday, June 15, 2001

Hundreds saved during SBC Crossover

By James Dotson Baptist Press NEW ORLEANS - Despite the torrential rain and thanks to covered porches at the Fisher public housing complex in Gretna, La., teams of lay evangelists led more than 300 residents to faith in Jesus Christ during Crossover. Crossover is an annual effort by Southern Baptists - sponsored by the North American Mission Board in cooperation with local churches and associations - to touch the host cities during annual meetings with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Volunteers team up with local churches for a wide range of evangelistic efforts.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Allison required Crossover participants to be creative and flexible in their efforts. Block parties were moved indoors and French Quarter ministry efforts were limited by the rain and sparse crowds. But ultimately more than 1,200 individuals had prayed to receive Jesus Christ and nearly 40 churches made significant progress in impacting their communities.

"The weather really hurt our efforts but we still had a lot of people saved," said Fred Dyess, director of missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.

One of the newest approaches was a "Kindness Explosion" in which volunteers distributed cold, bottled water and specially prepared gift bags to merchants and vendors throughout the French Quarter. The plan of salvation was printed on the bottled water label and a tract and New Testament were among the items in the bags.

The mostly student volunteers said many merchants were perplexed that someone would give them something without asking anything in return. But the object was simply to let people know that Southern Baptists cared about them. And the New Testament and gospel tract provided a lasting witness for the person to consider later.

"You could tell they were uneasy about some strange guy trying to give them a free gift. People are just really suspicious," said Stephen McQuitty of Texas.

One witnessing tool introduced this year was a free seven-minute long distance calling card that included the plan of salvation. Calls made with the card also include a message about a toll-free number where individuals could talk with someone further about a relationship with Christ.

One hot dog vendor was reluctant to accept a gospel tract but he brightened at the prospect of calling his four children with the telephone card.

"Here was a witnessing card he didn't want to take, and yet because it had something that actually met him where he was, he was able to use it, and we were able to share that God loves him," said Tim Knopps, vocational evangelist from Oklahoma.

Members of the North American Mission Board's Inner City Evangelism Team had encounters with individuals in spiritual desperation. The group of 15 trained evangelists led 477 individuals to faith in Christ over three days in New Orleans. They came to the city immediately after leading a training conference in nearby Baton Rouge where more than 700 decisions for Christ were recorded.

Team member Hiram Acree of Georgia said the week in Baton Rouge and New Orleans had been the rainiest they had ever encountered, often requiring several changes of clothes a day.

At the multiethnic Lake Forest Baptist Church, more than 300 people participated in face painting, balloon sculpting, puppet shows and a Christian rap concert. Adults took part in a blood donation drive and health screening.

At New Covenant Baptist Mission in the New Orleans suburb of Harvey, pastor Thomas Glover said the block party was effective in letting people know they existed. "We think it was a tremendous opportunity to get more exposure in the community."

At Belle Chasse Baptist Church, the rain kept numbers significantly lower than expected, but pastor Freddie Williford said it was a great event for church members and members of sister churches to get to know each other better and expose unchurched friends to Christian fellowship.

In a neighborhood near Gentilly Baptist Church, Frances Stokes' outlook on life was as gray as the clouds. Doctors in Washington, D.C., North Carolina and New York had given Stokes, 50, little hope of surviving her bout with cancer. Her 30-year-old daughter had also been diagnosed with cancer.

But Stokes' outlook on the future changed quickly when two raincoat-clad men - one from Texas and another from Indiana - paid her a visit. Gordon Ivey, an evangelist from Texas, asked Stokes if she knew for sure that she would spend eternity with God. Stokes could not answer confidently but said she would like to know how to be sure of her future.

After reading several Scripture passages, Stokes prayed with Ivey and Daniel Moore, a pastor from Indiana, asking Jesus Christ to forgive her sins and become Lord of her life.

"Your last breath here is your first breath in heaven," Ivey told Stokes.

"It's exciting," Ivey said of the experience, "because you don't know what's behind that door."

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6/15/2001 12:00:00 AM by James Dotson , Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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