REVISED March 25, 2009.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Even storied, 135-year-old Churchill Downs — home of the Kentucky Derby — will be among the ministry venues as Southern Baptists engage in Crossover Louisville ’09.
Now in its 21st year, Crossover is an evangelistic thrust to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ the week before the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in each year’s host city.
Crossover Louisville ’09 will kick off with Intentional Community Evangelism (ICE) on Sunday, June 14, and will culminate the June 19-20 weekend prior to the June 23-24 SBC annual meeting at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Crossover will be jointly sponsored by SBC’s North American Mission Board, the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Long Run Baptist Association, Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Our objective is to share Jesus and have a lasting impact on metro Louisville,” said Charles Barnes, longtime Baptist lay leader in Louisville, retired banking executive and chairman of the Crossover Louisville ’09 steering committee.
“We’re not interested in things that will have some glamour for only a week or so and then die,” Barnes said. “We want to go at things in a way that will not only win people to Christ but will disciple them thereafter. Hopefully, out of Crossover ’09’s block parties and festivals, we will not only have decisions for Christ but will have new churches that will emerge. We hope it will spark us to a new era of growth among all our churches and as a catalyst to move forward more aggressively.”
Barnes said the Long Run Baptist Association includes some 160 Southern Baptist churches, and about 40 of them will participate in 32 block parties in various Louisville neighborhoods. Five churches will band together for a single block party in Veterans Park in the Louisville suburb of Jeffersontown.
Hundreds of Southern Baptist volunteers from around the nation are expected to come to Louisville to support Crossover events — the block parties, an international fair featuring nine different ethnic groups, a separate Hispanic fair and door-to-door evangelism by ICE (Intentional Community Evangelism) team volunteers from NAMB and across the country.
Metro Louisville’s 1 million population includes some 50,000 Hispanics, with several hundred living right around Churchill Downs, working as jockeys, trainers, groomers and in other capacities, said Joshua Del Risco, NAMB’s coordinator for multiethnic evangelism in Alpharetta, Ga.
With help from Yurian Santiesteban, Southern Baptist chaplain at Churchill Downs, Crossover volunteers will visit the racetrack, witness to the Hispanic horsemen and invite them to nightly revival services at 10 area Hispanic churches, including a new church plant located almost across the street from Churchill Downs, Iglesias Baptista Victoria (Victory Baptist Church).
“When we leave Louisville, these 10 young Hispanic churches will be expected to continue their growth and keep implementing the things we learned during Crossover,” Del Risco said.
Walnut Street Baptist Church will be the host church for the Crossover initiative, with eight other churches serving as ICE “anchor churches”: Galilee Baptist Church, Bible Community Fellowship, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Guiding Light Baptist Church, Hunsinger Lane Baptist Church, Immanuel Baptist Church, St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and Temple of Faith Baptist Church.
Victor Benavides, coordinator of urban evangelism for NAMB, said planners are praying for at least 2,000 salvation decisions and six-to-eight new church plants resulting from Crossover in Louisville.
“This is an opportunity for Southern Baptists to be a part of something God is doing,” Benavides said. “Crossover is an evangelistic effort in a small window when we can go out there and win people for Christ. It will show us what the revival of a spiritual awakening could be like if we got out there and did it on a regular basis. We want people not just to pray for revival, but to get involved in it by coming to Louisville and sharing the Gospel with a lost person.”
Since Crossover originated during the SBC annual meeting in Las Vegas in 1989, more than 41,000 individuals have prayed to receive Christ.
For additional information about Crossover Louisville ’09, to register as a volunteer or to participate in ICE, go to www.crossoverlouisville.com.
Mickey Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board.