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100 Crossover events yield 2,500-plus professions of faith

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–For Tim Hill, the view at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds could be described in one word — heavenly.

“This is kind of a microcosm of what we’ve got [in Tennessee],” said Hill, an ethnic church starting specialist with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. “We’ve got a lot of Africans, Asians, Hispanics, refugees, Egyptians, Middle Easterners — we’ve got it all here. A snapshot of what heaven is going to be like.”

An international festival sponsored by the Nashville Baptist Association and Tennessee Baptist Convention was one of about 100 evangelistic events held June 18 as part of Crossover Nashville, the evangelistic thrust preceding each year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. Six other Baptist associations along with the North American Mission Board and LifeWay Christian Resources also were Crossover sponsors.

Within a 40-mile radius of downtown Nashville, Crossover events, including block parties, street evangelism, sports clinics, neighborhood prayerwalking, and door-to-door visitation, were conducted by nearly 10,000 volunteers from hundreds of Southern Baptist churches across the country.

More than 2,500 professions of faith in Christ have been recorded as a result of the Crossover efforts, according to records submitted by 80 of the 100 venues reporting to the Nashville Baptist Association office by June 19 along with reports from the door-to-door Crossover thrust initiated by SBC President Bobby Welch.

The international festival, in the fairgrounds’ Vaughan Building, featured cultural exhibits by about a dozen ethnic groups as well as musical and folk dance performances in native regalia and international cuisine. The festival, which attracted more than 3,000 people, also included a free bag of groceries as well as free haircuts and hand massages.

“All of them have worked together in spite of language differences and cultural differences to put this on,” Hill of the volunteers, “and I’m real proud of them.”

More importantly, Hill said, the highlight of the festival was marked by more than 100 professions of faith in Christ recorded during the four-hour event.

In east Nashville, the vision for a new church start was birthed as approximately 80 professions of faith in Christ were recorded during a three-hour block party at Eastland Baptist Church co-hosted by volunteers from Brentwood Baptist Church south of Nashville.

Activities for the 300-plus registered guests included musical concerts, interpretative dance, art displays from South Africa, Brazil and Indonesia, sack races and hula hoop competitions, as well as free food and refreshments.

Tony Higgins, a church planting missionary with the Nashville Baptist Association, said the block party marked the first outreach efforts for the new Eastland Community Church, which plans to launch worship services for its multi-ethnic congregation Sept. 18 on the Eastland Baptist Church campus.

“It was beautiful to see,” Higgins said of local residents, both young and old, from neighboring white, black and Hispanic communities fellowshiping together.

“Eastland community is aching for a church to reach out and that’s what we’re going to do,” Higgins said.

In downtown Nashville, about 150 volunteers from 24 churches in six states helped bag about 45,000 pounds of sweet potatoes in 10-pound bags in First Baptist Church’s parking lot.

Rusty Sumrall, associate director of the Nashville Baptist Association, said the sweet potatoes were secured by the Chicago-based Society of St. Andrews gleaning ministry. Volunteers distributed the sweet potatoes to local feeding ministries as well as block parties throughout Nashville.

Sixteen-year-old Garrett Lilley of First Baptist Church in Scotland Neck, N.C., figured she and her friend Haley Williams, 13, bundled at least 200 bags of potatoes.

But for Lilley, the highlight of her Crossover experience occurred the day before, en route to Nashville. An 18-year-old man approached her at a Waffle House in Asheville, N.C., to comment about the T-shirt she had designed for her youth group during their Crossover trip.

The man confessed he had come under conviction after seeing the yellow T-shirts bearing the words: “Follow The Son. Shine on us with Your love, Your grace, and Your light.”

“He decided that he needed to follow the Son again,” Lilley said. “He said he used to be really involved in church, but in January he just started drinking instead of praying about his problems. He went and called his old youth minister and talked to him and he is going to get back involved in church.”

At another Crossover event, Sherrie Baker of east Nashville was impressed by the ministry of two men from Tullahoma, Tenn., who participated in the Baptist Men On Mission “Pit Stop” co-sponsored by First Baptist Church in Nashville and the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

Alan Sawyer and Barry Halley, members of Grace Baptist Church in Tullahoma, changed the oil in Baker’s truck for free in a parking lot behind First Baptist.

“It’s a blessing. God is just good, that’s all I can say,” Baker said. “God is so good. This is a marvelous gift for them to come out here and share on a Saturday.”

Saturday also marked the end of a weeklong street witnessing outreach by NAMB’s Inner City Evangelism (ICE) teams. About 20 ICE team members from Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, West Virginia and North Carolina walked the streets of Nashville sharing the Gospel June 13-18.

Victor Benavides, coordinator of NAMB’s Inner City Evangelism efforts, said 716 professions of faith were recorded in communities near Shelby Avenue Baptist Church and the Church of the Messiah on LaFayette Street.

“Some people say that Gospel tract distribution doesn’t work anymore, but God showed us it still works,” Benavides said. “Even in times of crises,” he added.

ICE team members distributed about 500 Gospel tracts shortly after a drive-by shooting flushed people out of their homes near LaFayette Street June 15 around 4 p.m. and local law enforcement personnel secured the area.

“When we were walking in the projects we were finding bullet casings,” Benavides said.

Tammy Weeks, a member of Serenity Baptist Church in Clinton, N.C., partnered with her husband, Richard, in leading dozens of people, including entire families, to make professions of faith in Christ as part of the ICE team efforts.

“When the gunshots went off, I knew I was out of my comfort zone,” Weeks said. “God did not leave me out there by myself. He took care of me. I had on the full armor of God.”

For Mary Donegan, Woman’s Missionary Union director at Old New Hope Baptist Church in Fairview, Tenn., Crossover helped mobilize about 20 people, ages 5 to 80, in their small church for ministry.

The group distributed free bottles of water and homemade cookies in a grocery store parking lot and community recreation center west of Nashville.

“We told them we were giving this to show the love of Jesus because He gave His all for us,” Donegan said. “We had a blast. The Spirit was there. It was awesome. There were some seeds planted.”

    About the Author

  • Lee Weeks