SAN DIEGO (BP)–More than 40 people accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior during a Super Bowl block party Jan. 25 at First Baptist Church in Imperial Beach, Calif.
The block party was one of three sponsored by the San Diego Baptist Association and hosted by three area churches. The churches served free burgers, hot dogs and nachos and offered extreme games for the kids and musical performances — all designed to let community residents know their local Baptist church cares about them.
But what happened at Imperial Beach is nothing short of a miracle, said Doug Johnson, pastor of the 75-member church. The small Baptist congregation hosted a block party that attracted nearly 700 people at Veteran’s Park. More than 40 residents gave their lives to the Lord inside the park.
“I am so proud of our people,” Johnson said. “They are willing to take on any challenge. I believe what happened inside this park today has raised our people’s faith to a new level.”
The day of the street party was nearly picture-perfect. With temperatures in the upper 70s, church members transformed the quiet park into a festive, colorful family friend refuge.
Church members arrived at 5:30 a.m. and began preparing for the party. “Before it started, we had one young couple saved during set-up,” Johnson said.
Live bands performed in the park’s gazebo while clowns painted faces and created balloon animals for children. Older kids played football and maneuvered their way through extreme sports mazes while church members prepared food and beverages for the growing crowds.
Every half-hour, the gospel message was presented and an opportunity to respond was offered.
The event, Johnson said, was an example of Southern Baptists cooperating. The local association provided financial support for the event, while Terrell Eldreth, pastor of Carlton Hills Baptist Church in Santee, drove down to the city and offered to share evangelistic sermons. Meanwhile, a group of Southern Baptist teenagers from Apple Valley, Calif., drove more than two hours to minister through the performing arts at the party. Two Southern Baptist evangelists from Georgia and two North American Mission Board missionaries arrived from West Virginia to offer their assistance.
Chris Meekins, a Gardner-Webb University student, read about the block party on NAMB’s volunteer website. Wanting to help out, Meekins paid his way to California and had been camped out on the couch of a Mission Service Corps volunteer in San Diego since Jan. 22.
“I’m just glad to be out here sharing the gospel with people,” Meekins said. “We’ve been doing a lot of witnessing out here.”
Johnson, a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, said most of the salvation reports came from one-on-one encounters.
“We’ve been very non-confrontational,” Johnson said. “Our people have a heart for reaching their community.”
Across town at the Encanto Southern Baptist Church, about 100 community residents turned out for the block party, reported Don Conley, pastor of the church and a NAMB church starter strategist.
“We are being very intentional with this event,” Conley said. “This is our community and we are going to reach out to everyone.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: MINI-EXPERIENCE, SUPER PRAYER, CLOWNING AROUND, PASTOR’S TOUCH and BOBO’S IN THE BLOCK.