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Volunteers hand out bottled water, gospel message to Orlando tourists

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Just as water is required to sustain a person’s physical life, Jesus Christ is the basic element of eternal life.

That’s the message more than 60 Southern Baptist student volunteers sought to share by distributing bottled water to trolley riders and passers-by on Orlando’s International Drive June 10 as part of Crossover Orlando 2000.

Volunteers wearing shirts that read “free water” represented the Greater Orlando Baptist Association as part of evangelistic efforts preceding the June 13-14 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in the city. Going two-by-two, they were stationed at local trolley stops to share God’s love with the public.

As tourists and local residents waited for the green old-fashioned trolleys to arrive, the volunteers greeted them with a warm smile and offered free water on a hot summer day in June.

Each bottle was printed with the message, “Is your soul thirsty? Jesus is the Living Water. He’s God’s free gift to you.”

College student Patricia Pump from First Baptist Church of Orlando said this small act of kindness points people toward Jesus. “God took the time for us by sending Jesus here, so I feel I need to take time to show people how he has changed my life.”

Brent Tate, a student at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, said he was involved in the ministry because “God’s Word says Christians are to go out and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. This is not only my duty as a believer … but it is also my passion.”

Describing the water as an “icebreaker,” Tate said it sparked conversation that made people more receptive to him. “This made it easier to talk with them about their relationship with Christ.”

The student volunteers had attended meetings to help them realize the importance of approaching people in a non-aggressive way. As tourist Anjanette Hayes from Greenwood, S.C., left the trolley stop with a smile, she said she was impressed with the students’ efforts. “They were very outspoken and made me feel very comfortable when they shared with me why they were there.”

Robbie Harper from Stetson University in Deland, Fla., said he was reluctant to just stand there and “give out tracts. I wanted to initiate conversations with them and actually show interest in their lives.”

A 14-hour road trip from Monroe, La., was the sacrifice Keith Gordon made because he felt God calling him to participate in Crossover. “People are seeking something and it is our responsibility as believers to tell them that they need Jesus Christ.”

Welby Jones from Kansas City, Mo., was one of many who commended the students for their ministry efforts.

A Southern Baptist, Jones said he appreciated that the students were meeting real needs. “Jesus took care of the physical needs then shared the gospel, and that is what the students are doing here today.”

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  • Shelley Henwood