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‘Join God in the cities,’ Jericho participants told

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Nearly 1,000 Southern Baptist adults and youth gathered June 12-19 for the final Jericho missions conference at Ridgecrest (N.C.) Baptist Conference Center.
Focused on the theme, “Reaching the Cities of the World for Christ: a Missions Festival to Change Your World,” participants were challenged to join God as he moves in dramatic new ways in the cities of the world.
Almost one-third of the earth’s population lives in cities, and the 10 largest cities alone account for more than 173 million people. Some missions strategists see the gathering of people into cities as one way God is giving every person on earth an opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel.
Southern Baptists will have to make sacrificial commitments to praying, giving and going, however, if the world’s cities are to be reached for Christ, International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin told Jericho participants.
“It’s time we respond to God’s call to Esther — ‘for such a time as this’ — and join him as he moves in unparalleled ways through the world’s cities to reach people with the message of salvation through his son, Jesus Christ,” Rankin said.
A total of 979 adults and youth registered for the two-part conference. Participants in the first segment heard Pedro Aviles, a missionary in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Steven Moltz, a student worker in New York City, describe the challenges and successes of work with multicultural communities and violent gang members. Daily workshops and Bible studies stimulated participants to see God at work and join him in his redemptive mission.
Hands-on activities, interactive displays, practical seminars and one-on-one conversations with missionaries highlighted the week. Tracks for children, youth and adults provided singing, crafts and Bible studies.
A similar event is scheduled July 24-31 at Glorieta (N.M.) Baptist Conference Center.
Jericho will be replaced in 1999 with “Churches on Mission,” a conference designed to give Southern Baptists insight into mobilizing congregations for cutting-edge missions involvement. Churches on Mission will be held at Ridgecrest June 25 – July 2, 1999, and at Glorieta July 23-30, 1999.
Jericho missions festivals were launched 10 years ago to break down barriers keeping Southern Baptists from joining God’s mission by giving them firsthand experience and a challenge to get involved. As the walls of ancient Jericho fell before the Israelites, organizers planned for barriers to missions involvement to tumble down as people have a fresh encounter with God.
Featured speakers for this year’s conference included Rankin; James T. Draper Jr., president of Lifeway Christian Resources; Bob Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board; and Dellanna O’Brien, executive director of Woman’s Missionary Union.