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Alabama church sees Muslim open up to Gospel following Crossover block party

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–She’s spent the last eight years in the Muslim faith, but Oct. 24 she was in a pew at Eastdale Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.

And although Royce DuBose, Eastdale’s pastor, has never considered himself artistic, he could have painted her in that instant as his church’s poster child for intentional evangelism.

“We were able to talk with her and give her a New Testament at our block party a few weeks ago, and she started reading it as soon as she got home,” DuBose said. “She’s been coming to the church ever since.”

She wasn’t the only new face in the congregation as a result of Eastdale’s block party, held Oct. 17 as part of Crossover 2004, an evangelism emphasis held in the weeks leading up to the Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting.

Twelve made professions of faith at the block party, some joined the church soon after and others still are pursuing answers about Christ.

“It was like a revival for our church members. They realized a lot of people out there are looking for a church home. It brought a spirit of evangelism to our people that has not gone away,” DuBose said. “Even now we’re putting money aside in our 2005 budget to have it next year.”

In its fifth year, Crossover events focused on the area surrounding Montgomery, this year’s annual meeting site. And with the slew of fall festivals, block parties, cleanup days and other events that the Montgomery, Autauga and Elmore associations hosted, statistics soared above the precedent of previous years.

“We’ve had 20 or 30 events each year in the past, but we are in the 50s with this one,” said Teman Knight, an associate in the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions office of evangelism.

As of press time, more than 16,000 Montgomery-area residents had attended Crossover events so far, and some 300 professions of faith had been made, Knight said. One of those was a personal spiritual victory for 76-year-old Thalia Lifsey, who while making a FAITH visit for First Baptist Church in Prattville, for the first time led someone to Christ.

With members like Lifsey rising to the challenge, First Baptist, Prattville — like many Autauga Association churches — is catching the vision of how to make intentional evangelism an ongoing part of the church’s ministry, and “not just something that happens every four years when the convention is in town,” Knight said.

Travis Coleman Jr., senior pastor of First Baptist Church, said it’s a good idea to turn the block party into an annual event because this year’s was so successful. The party took place at a local trailer park and offered food, entertainment and Gospel presentations.

“We had 10 salvation decisions, five of which were Hispanic,” Coleman said. Such instances made this year “a great year for Crossover,” Knight said. “Some Hispanic revivals and block parties were a new edition this year, and we had good success with them.”

In the Elmore Association, a concert at Lake Martin Amphitheater Oct. 23 drew a crowd of more than 2,000 people — mostly youth — who gathered to hear local praise bands such as Precipice of First Baptist Church in Eclectic — in addition to big-name Christian rock band Audio Adrenaline.

“It was a great time for the local churches to draw the community into Christian music,” said Bo Worthy, festival director for First Baptist, Eclectic.

On the heels of the concert, all three associations geared up for the Light Bulb Evangelism Blitz Nov. 13, during which church members swept the neighborhoods giving out light bulb holders with a Gospel message entitled “Looking for Light.”

“It’s an opportunity for us to marshal our forces for Christ,” said Jay Wolf, pastor of First Baptist Church in Montgomery. The bulbs, Wolf said, served as a door opener that hopefully would turn into a “heart opener.”

“We want to make a dent in the darkness here in Montgomery,” Wolf said. Before the bulb blitz, First Baptist, Montgomery partnered with Chisholm Baptist Church Oct. 23 for a cleanup day in the Chisholm community.

“In addition to assisting the Chisholm residents with home repairs and cleanup of yards, renovations were made to the Chisholm Elementary School, the Chisholm Boys and Girls Club and the Chisholm Community Ministries office,” said Catherine Lamar, chairman of “Making a Difference in Chisholm” Day.

Some 300 volunteers, including military personnel from the Maxwell-Gunter Air Force bases, turned out to help out. And while making repairs, lifting limbs and wielding Weedeaters, volunteers spoke with residents about their need for Christ.

“That was a prerequisite — the person requesting the assistance had to be there, so the volunteers got to talk with them,” Lamar said.

The effort was a successful one-day evangelistic push for an ongoing outreach ministry, the Nehemiah program, which provides tutoring for children and GED preparation for adults.

“We are encouraging churches and ministries to see events they are already doing and use them to make their evangelism intentional,” Knight said.
This story first appeared in The Alabama Baptist, online at www.thealabamabaptist.org.