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Crosspoint workers carry home heart-warming, wrenching stories

BALTIMORE (BP)–“Awesome!” was one of the favorite words of nine Crosspoint staffers who traveled Baltimore’s inner city this summer giving children a sense of Christianity.
The staffers also frequently worked “God” and “Jesus” and “Who loves ya?” into their conversations as they spent entire days rubbing shoulders with the some of city’s more underprivileged younger residents.
The group participated in a Baptist Sunday School Board-sponsored project that used sports camps as a way to reach unchurched youth for Christ. The team stayed in Baltimore nine weeks, traveling to seven different city areas that ranged from hard-core inner city to more affluent neighborhoods to conduct three-hour sports camps.
The group left Baltimore with heart-wrenching and heart-warming stories to tell about the children they met throughout the summer.
There was James, a young teenager who walked 15 blocks to attend one of the camps because none was being conducted in his neighborhood. Jay Strother, Crosspoint staffer and a graduate of Greenville (Ill.) College, said he met James while playing basketball at an area park during his time off. They hit it off, so Strother invited James to a Crosspoint camp being held 15 blocks from his home at Patterson Park. While Strother acknowledged he never expected to see James again, the young teen showed up at the park the next day, sweating and huffing from walking the long distance in Baltimore’s heat.
“Through God’s grace, we touch some of these kids,” said Strother, who is getting married in September. “Playing sports with these kids every week is a neat opportunity to establish a lot of respectability with them and in their communities. Through that, they are really receptive to what we have to say about God’s love.”
Strother was also the staffer who dealt with Ricky, a rough 6-year-old who frequently grabbed sports equipment and hid it under bushes. Ricky lived near one of Crosspoint’s roughest inner-city camps — Harbor Heights — and he emerged every week just as the staffers began setting up camp to harass the other children and steal equipment.
Strother frequently bent down to Ricky’s level, held him and asked him, “Who loves you, Ricky?” When the child, in R-rated language, cried out that no one loved him, Strother said, “Yeah, Ricky, Jesus loves you.”
Nolan Moore, a staffer and junior at North Georgia College and State University, enjoyed telling the story of Eddy, a 12-year-old boy with a “big smile.”
When Moore saw Eddy at the Harbor Heights site, he noticed right away that he seemed to have an unusually good attitude.
“He had the biggest smile; he never talked back; and he always let the little kids in front of him in the lines,” Moore said.
Turns out, Eddy had never owned a Bible, and when he saw Moore’s, he asked if he could have it. So Moore said he gave Eddy his Bible on the condition he return to camp every week and prove to the Crosspoint staffer he had been studying the verses Moore recommended.
He did.
Moore, who described the Crosspoint experience as a “cultural one for us, and a Christian one for the kids,” said he believes Eddy will accept Christ before long.
Another Eddie at Harbor Heights, a 4-year-old, broke the heart of one staffer, Mary Alice Hales, a senior at Mississippi College in Clinton.
This Eddie latched on to Hales one week and wouldn’t let go. When the group began loading their van with their spots gear to leave that evening, Eddie begged Hales to take him with her.
“I was thinking that if I just took him home with me, he might have a chance at life, but I couldn’t, of course, so I said, ‘Eddie, do you know that somebody loves you?’ And he said, ‘You do?’ And I said, ‘Yes, but somebody else loves you too.’ And when he asked, ‘Who?’ I told him, ‘Jesus loves you.’ And then I started to sing the ‘Jesus Loves You’ song with him.
“So many of the children just need someone to love them. That’s all,” Hales said.
Other Crosspoint staffers were Sandy Maddox, camp director and graduate of North Georgia College and State University; Roberto Corchado, Palm Beach Atlantic College, West Palm Beach, Fla.; Christy Lewis, Samford University, Birmingham, Ala.; Dusty Medlock, University of North Alabama, Florence; Beth Patterson, Samford’s Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham; and Vicki Wade, University of North Alabama.

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  • Terri Lackey