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6/12/97 Baptists’ inner-city witness yields 655 decisions for Christ

PHILADELPHIA (BP)–“Man, I can’t handle that, this Jesus stuff. But there’s somebody I want you to talk to!”
Troy Smith followed the young inner-city gang leader to his mother. Smith, from Portland, Ore., led the distraught mother to Jesus.
“There’s still hope,” Smith said. “At least he still loves his mother.”
Smith has been picking up after drug addicts, prostitutes and alcoholics from Portland’s streets for years. In May, he went to inner-city Philadelphia to join 40 other Southern Baptists from across the country in reaching out to the lost, hopeless and homeless.
Bo Mitchell, a Mission Service Corps volunteer from Winter Haven, Fla., approached three teenagers in an area abounding with garbage, decaying buildings and despair. Holding up a marijuana joint, the teens told the volunteer, “Man, we don’t need to consider Jesus. We’re getting ready to smoke … see … right here.”
Mitchell recounted that he went on with his effort to present the gospel. The two young boys walked off. But a 15-year-old girl stayed, listened and prayed to receive Christ as the boys taunted her and the volunteer. She walked away from the encounter saying to her friends, “My life is goin’ to change. Go on without me.”
During four days of witnessing led by Keith Walker, an associate in personal evangelism with the Home Mission Board, 655 people received Christ.
Cliff Ryan from Tampa Bay Baptist Church, Tampa, approached a young lady, presented his Christian testimony to her and then asked, “Has anything like this ever happened to you?”
Filled with anger, hurt and hatred, she replied, “Jesus came into my heart when I was 8 years old and my father raped me!” She stalked away.
Ryan stayed in the area and in a few minutes was able to talk further with the girl and pray for her.
The Philadelphia “Cutting Edge Blitz” was the culmination of eight months of planning involving HMB, local church and Baptist association leaders.
Similar “Cutting Edge Blitz” events are taking place June 11-20 in housing developments in Dallas. Another is planned this fall in Portland.
Just before heading home from Philadelphia, Mitchell noted: “I believe literally trodding through the ghetto with Jesus on your heart and lips, uplifted and helped by local churches, is the greatest concept for reaching the inner city we’ve seen in a decade.
“I believe the potential for God to start a great revival in America may reside in the inner-city ghettos,” said Mitchell continued. “People are as open there as anywhere on earth. It is as if their weary, yet eager eyes flash out to say, ‘Oh is it really possible, could it be that somebody, anybody … really anybody, cares?’ And they listen.”