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7 commit to Christianity at Mesa church’s block party

MESA, Ariz. (BP)–From every direction they came, dozens and scores of people swarming a local park to attend a Crossover Arizona block party sponsored by Brown Road Baptist Church in Mesa June 13.

At party’s end, almost 200 registration cards were completed, some representing couples or families, reported Rik Danielsen, senior pastor of the suburban Phoenix church.

More important than “statistics” were seven people who committed their lives to Christ, Danielsen said.

More than 140 who registered at the block party indicated they were not members of any church, Danielsen told his congregation the next day. “However, they do need to belong to a good church somewhere, like Brown Road.”

The church served more than 200 free lunches — sloppy-jo sandwiches, chips and a drink.

“The sloppier the food, the better,” said J.W. Hutchens, a staff member with the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board. “And serve it on a flimsy paper plate. That way the people have to sit down, and when they do, you can sit down next to them and tell them about Jesus. But if you serve hamburgers, the prospects will just walk away.”

Edgar “Ed” and Joyce Johnson of Flintstone, Ga., had contacted NAMB a few weeks earlier to volunteer in Crossover Arizona.

“That’s how we got here,” said Johnson, pastor of Chattanooga Valley Baptist Church in Flintstone.

Johnson said he witnessed to Mike, a Roman Catholic who told him the Catholic Church doesn’t teach its adherents much about faith, but that he would like to know more.

“So, I gave him a copy of the ‘Jesus’ film,” Johnson said.

Jeanette was another Roman Catholic to whom Johnson spoke. She told Johnson she made a commitment to Christ as a child but hadn’t known what she was doing.

After hearing Johnson talk about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Jeanette told him she wanted the same thing.

Between bites of a sandwich, Johnson also spoke with Elaine, who had three children in tow. After reading a Gospel tract to her, he asked if she wanted to commit her life to Christ. Elaine responded by saying she wanted someone to visit her at home to talk more.

“The Jehovah’s Witnesses come to my door all the time,” Elaine said. “They want me to do some studies. But I’m not too sure about them.”

Johnson noted Jehovah’s Witnesses believe “you have to earn your salvation” and then asked, “But how can you earn something that’s free?” He then read John 3:16 to Elaine, emphasizing “God GAVE his Son for our salvation. That’s a gift; you can’t earn it.”

Elaine answered Johnson’s question about whether she owned a Bible by saying she didn’t. Brown Road member James Bright was at the ready with a New Testament.

“I’ve always wanted one of these,” Elaine said.

Also assisting the 24 Brown Road members were 12 members from Morningside Baptist Church in Yuma; seven college students from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Baptist Student Ministries; and Barbara Erman, director of Casa de Amor Baptist Center in Mesa.

“This block party was a huge undertaking for our people,” said Harold Miller, Brown Road’s education and music minister. “I just pray God will continue to bless with more successes like this one.”
(BP)photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: SHARING HOPE IN ARIZONA.

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  • Norm Miller