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Southern Baptists minister to Music City Center workers during annual meeting

The first thing the capacity crowd heard at the June 13 prayer gathering at Nashville's Music City Center was a story about the salvation of an MCC worker only a few minutes before. Photo by Eric Brown

NASHVILLE (BP) – As Southern Baptists from across the country gathered for the annual meeting last week, many were intentional about sharing the love of Jesus with the staff at the Music City Center.

Because of the size of the event, the Music City Center hired additional contract workers to assist during the week of the meeting.

One temporary worker, a young woman, accepted Christ as Savior through the ministry of the worship team from Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.

Andy Williams, Long Hollow’s worship pastor, said although the Sunday night prayer and worship meeting was supposed to start at 5:30, God was working in the room prior to that.

Williams said when the worship team arrived in the Davidson Ballroom for soundcheck at 3:30, they noticed a young woman working security and watching the room.

The team initially attempted to talk with her and develop a relationship, but according to Williams she did not seem very enthusiastic about being there. They learned she had been working security in the Ballroom on her own since 7:30 that morning.

“We were trying to be really nice to her and get to know her, but she just seemed ready to go home and didn’t care about what was going on,” Williams said. “At one point she even said ‘I don’t even know why I’m here, there’s nothing happening in this room.’”

Over the course of the next few hours of preparation for the prayer night, the team continued to talk with the young woman and even brought her dinner as she had not eaten all day.

About 10 minutes before the prayer night was about to start, Williams said one of worship team members suggested they pray over this worker.

The worship team, along with Long Hollow Senior Pastor Robby Gallaty, asked the woman if they could pray for her. The woman began sharing her life story and how she is now clean from drug addiction and had recently been struggling with her mental health.

Gallaty, whose testimony includes recovery from a $180-a-day heroin addiction, briefly shared his story with her.

Williams said Gallaty told her “recovery without Jesus is like a dead-end street” and asked her if she had ever given her life to the Lord. Through tears she prayed with the team to receive Christ.

“She was crying the whole time, and everything Robby was saying you could tell was hitting her right in the chest,” Williams said. “You could just tell her life was being changed in that moment.”

Gallaty opened the prayer gathering by telling this salvation story, which Williams said caused the crowd to erupt and “shifted the mood in the room.”

“Her life has been so hard and she’s sitting in the back and she’s hearing 1,500 people cheer her on,” Williams said. “It was almost like a physical representation of what Heaven was doing.”

Williams said the young worker told her after the show she had recently lost her grandmother and this night was the first time she had felt seen in a while.

He said the incident made him want to slow down and be more intentional about the things and people around him.

“It’s one of the coolest God-stories I’ve been able to witness,” Williams said. “At the core of why I do ministry is not to be an excellent worship leader, the core of what I do is about people. But I have caught myself on Sundays just focusing on the songs. It can take things to another level if you actually take the opportunity to walk through the crowd like Jesus did and you can see needs. You just never know what God can do with that.”

Intentionality can describe what some Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers displayed in their dealings with an engaged couple also working as temporary staff at the Music City Center.

Disaster relief workers traditionally volunteer as childcare workers during the annual meeting, and this year the volunteers struck up a relationship with two MCC staff who were working security for the room and discovered they were engaged. After developing a relationship with them, the volunteers wanted to minister to them.

Ron Crow, disaster relief director for Kentucky Baptists, said some of the volunteers bought the couple a Bible, signed it and wrote notes to them, and included a financial gift to help them start their life together.

Additionally, many volunteers spoke highly of the couple to their MCC supervisor, and according to Crow, the couple ended up getting hired by the MCC on a more permanent basis after the week.

David Hampton serves as a blue hat, or site director, for Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief.

Hampton said he spoke with the couple every day and was one of the volunteers to suggest to the supervisor hiring the couple permanently.

Although they did not make a decision for Christ, Hampton said the couple told him the week had changed their lives. He said he wanted to help show the couple the love of Jesus and what Southern Baptists are really about.

“Southern Baptists are a Christian organization, and our job is to build relationships with Christians and non-Christians and to disciple them, no matter where they are, who are they are, what their job is or anything like that,” he said.

“Any time we come in contact with people, we are supposed to minister to them and try to disciple them and show them who Christians really are and what Christians believe. We are people who abide by the Bible, and the Bible teaches to respect others and talk to others about who Jesus is and what He’s done for them.”