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Crossover Triad puts Ark. students’ FAITH in action

GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)–Growing up in Marion, Ark., 16-year-old Cassie Hallmark never had an opportunity to share her FAITH training with a person from another culture. All that changed when Hallmark, along with 19 other FAITH-trained students and 11 adults from First Baptist Church in Marion, took part in Crossover Triad June 10, during the weekend preceding the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C.

Crossover Triad 2006 was an evangelistic effort involving 98 churches and nearly 2,000 volunteers and sponsored jointly by the North American Mission Board, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and the 200 SBC churches of the Piedmont, Pilot Mountain and Central Triad Baptist Associations.

Working in cooperation with Lewisville Baptist Church near Winston-Salem, the Marion group fanned out in teams of three or four, visiting 217 homes and speaking with 105 people. One of them was a woman of the Hindu faith, who told Hallmark she believed they worshiped the same God but in different names.

While no one made a commitment to Christ on this particular visit, Hallmark said her eight semesters of FAITH helped prepare her for this encounter and kept her focused on the Gospel message. FAITH, an ongoing evangelism and ministry strategy for local churches, was developed, in part, by Bobby Welch, long-time pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., and immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

For Kati Lusk, 25, and Hunter House, 17, Crossover gave them their first chance to present the entire FAITH outline. Lusk explained to one attentive woman they visited what each letter stood for, and House cited the corresponding Scripture verse.

“It flowed so well,” said Lusk, who has learned several types of evangelism strategies. “It kept her attention because we were going back and forth.” Having the FAITH outline to work from, House added, “helps you know what to say next.”

Allison Wiggins, 18, was one of the first students at First Baptist Marion to receive FAITH training. She has since been involved in evangelistic outreaches in several states as well as Brazil, Canada and the Ukraine.

Wiggins, who teamed with Katherine Morris, 16, and Chris Neaveill, 14, for Crossover Triad, said she felt called to vocational ministry at age 15.

“FAITH has prepared me for my future,” Wiggins said.

For Neaveill, who had just completed his first semester of FAITH, using the door-to-door survey approach to reach residents of Lewisville was “a great experience.”

The faith and courage of the Marion students also was a great experience for members of Lewisville Baptist Church and helped prepare for a future that is more focused on evangelism, according to pastor Les Puryear.

While the church has done some evangelistic training, it hasn’t been very outreach-orientated in the past. “This is a seed-sowing day,” said Puryear, who has been with Lewisville Baptist for about 10 months.

Observing the Marion students and adults in action helped his congregation “see how it was done” and provided church members with inspiration and motivation to continue the outreach efforts to the community, Puryear said.

After the door-to-door visitations, Lewisville Baptist held a block party for the neighborhood, which included musical and puppet performances from the Marion Student Worship Arts team.

The team was led by Lee Barnett, who serves as minister of worship for First Baptist Marion. According to Barnett, the church has been training students and adults in FAITH for about five years.

His wife, Elizabeth, was part of a team that visited a man who replied, “I’m not sure anybody knows that,” when asked how a person can know for certain that he or she will go to heaven. By the end of their FAITH presentation, the man had prayed to receive Christ. “I’ll see you in heaven,” he said as they parted.

While not every experience was positive, most of the people the team encountered seemed to respect their efforts to share their beliefs in the community. Puryear believes that even the negative reactions have a positive side to them.

“If we weren’t being effective, we would not have opposition,” he said.

After Crossover, the First Baptist Marion team headed to New York City to complete the second part of their mission trip through evangelistic outreaches in parks, subways and on a ferry. They also planned to conduct a chapel service at Teen Challenge and minister to homeless people.

In addition to the students and adults from First Baptist Marion, Puryear expressed appreciation to the state and local associations for the Crossover assistance his church received.

With one profession of faith and a number of interested prospects for follow up, the Crossover outreach in Lewisville also served as the kickoff to a weekly community visitation program Lewisville Baptist is about to undertake.

“We see this as a first step to wonderful things in the future,” Puryear said.

    About the Author

  • Don Beehler