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Crossover San Antonio shares Christ in 18 communities

SAN ANTONIO (BP)–Some 1,000 Southern Baptist volunteers weathered 90-degree temperatures to fan out across 18 San Antonio communities June 9-10, sharing the Gospel, good food and good times via Crossover 2007.

Now in its 19th year, Crossover precedes the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 12-13 annual meeting at San Antonio’s Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

“Crossover will be a catalyst for other things to come,” said Steve Payne, Crossover coordinator for the San Antonio Baptist Association. “Today made churches realize what they can do in the future. They can do door-to-door evangelism and block parties on their own time schedules. It will really open up a lot of avenues and opportunities. The churches can say, ‘Hey, we did it once for Crossover, we can do it again on our own.'”

Payne said 55 San Antonio SBC churches participated in Crossover 2007.

More than 1,000 people attended Crossover’s signature event, Festival de Alabanza (Festival of Praise), in Guadalupe Plaza west of downtown San Antonio.

With rhythmic mariachi music and the aroma of Mexican food in the background, teams of Intentional Community Evangelism (ICE) volunteers shared the Good News of Jesus Christ in both Spanish and English in the Hispanic community.

“Our team of 14 from the First Baptist Church of Sevierville, Tenn., has seen 40 people come to Christ,” said David Cobb of Gatlinburg, Tenn. “That was just over a two-hour period. And, boy, has it been hot.”

Roland Lopez, Hispanic coordinator for the San Antonio Baptist Association, said his local team worked for nearly a year to plan the festival.

“The highest percentage of San Antonio’s Hispanic population surrounds Guadalupe Plaza,” Lopez said. “And we’re right here in the pocket of a strong Catholic community, with a Catholic church right across the street. But we’ll try anything to share the Gospel with those needing to make decisions. Our job is to sow the seeds and extend the net of evangelism.”

As a praise team from the New Beacon Hills Baptist Church and the Christian mariachi group Campanas de America entertained the crowd, Richard Leach was still trying to win people to Christ.

Leach, director for evangelism for the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, sensed an openness among the festival-goers. “They’re here because God brought them here. It just sometimes takes time to talk with them about their lives,” Leach said.

Shawn McCloskey, an ICE volunteer from Wichita, Kan., left the insurance agency he operates to spend nearly two weeks in San Antonio, where he’s seen ICE teams reap a total of 600 decisions since June 2.

“This is my fourth year of Crossover so I just [took] my vacation to come. I’m the boss so I can take off as long as I want to,” the 43-year-old insurance agent joked.

“It’s been a wonderful experience. More people, especially pastors, should come out here and work the streets and see what can happen with people. Your perspective and relationship with God grows 1,000 percent. If you want a change in your life and in your church, come out here. Get out of the walls of the church. Your life will never be the same.

“People are hurting out here, but there’s the Gospel that saves them,” McCloskey continued. “And you don’t have to drag them into church in suits and ties. And when they come into your church, don’t expect them to act like third-generation Christians. Just love them for Jesus.”

At a Crossover block party at San Antonio’s Woodlawn Lake Park sponsored by members of University Park Baptist Church, pastor Bob Canion was busy getting the snow cone machine ready and firing up the grills to cook 500 hot dogs.

Although the church is 60 years old, its members are mostly young people. Canion said his goal is to reach kids in the community first and then their parents. Canion and members of the church reached out to kids via snow cones as well as face painting, balloons, clowns and various games.

“Once they hit the teenage years, it’s hard to reach them,” Canion said. “If we can reach the kids, we know the parents will come too.”

A T-ball tournament was the main attraction at a block party sponsored by South San Filadelfia Baptist Church. Victor Rodriguez, the church’s senior pastor, said nearly 400 people took part in the day’s activities.

With support from some 200 volunteers from the church and around the SBC, Rodriguez said the block party “gives me a chance to meet people from the community, take off my tie and coat, and really get to know people.”

“Our goal is to evangelize the community, let them know that there’s a God and a church that loves them. Once the community sees what’s going on, they are at ease with what we’re trying to do,” Rodriguez said.

NAMB President Geoff Hammond visited several Crossover venues and called the outreach a great example of Southern Baptist partnership at its best.

“Crossover presents a crystal-clear picture of the types of ministries NAMB is doing all year long in assisting churches. It also shows what can happen when local churches, associations, state conventions and NAMB all come together to share Christ.”

Since Crossover originated during the SBC annual meeting in Las Vegas in 1989, more than 38,000 people have prayed to receive Christ as a result of the annual evangelistic campaign.

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  • Mickey Noah