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Youth serve as ‘Frontliners’ in SBC witnessing effort

SALT LAKE CITY (BP)–In Southern Baptists’ campaign to spread the message of Jesus Christ to the people of Salt Lake City, more than 250 youth from Southern Baptist churches in Texas, Florida and Utah stepped to the battlefield’s front lines.
The youth, known as “Frontliners,” are receiving daily training, June 8-10, in witnessing strategies and spending the afternoons implementing those strategies with anyone who will give them their attention. They also are inviting people they encounter to evangelistic worship services held nightly at Southeast Baptist Church.
Sam Whitley, a member of First Baptist Church, Euless, Texas, said the work has been exciting and challenging.
“The first place we went was to the temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a beautiful church. They proclaim Christ in the entryway. As you go on, though, you discover that the Christ they proclaim is not the Christ of the Bible,” he said.
Whitley, 18, accompanied by fellow youth group members Devon Morgan and Riane Marsh, both 17, began to question their tour guide, a 20-something woman serving her two-year mission requirement at the temple.
“We thought the LDS people would be super-prepared since they’ve been expecting us to come for so long,” he said, “but that wasn’t the case. She didn’t have a lot of answers and many of the answers she did have were little more than ‘I’ve always wondered that, too.'”
Morgan said the preliminary experience encouraged her to continue her efforts. “Sam was great,” she said. “He encouraged us all to not attack her with questions so she wouldn’t feel intimidated. We really saw that when a person is confronted with God’s truth in love, it challenges a non-believer to look differently at the deceptions they’ve been fed throughout life.”
The Salt Lake City Frontliners are part of a larger Frontliners effort, comprising more than 1,300 youth who will participate in other projects throughout the United States this summer.
Kelley Green, an evangelist from Brandon, Fla., and leader of Frontliners, said the youth movement is as new as the Bible’s Book of Acts. “Frontliners is all about teens taking ownership and responsibility for the Great Commission. We believe that if a teen is old enough to receive Jesus Christ’s free gift of salvation, that teen is old enough to share that gift with others,” he said.
Typically, Frontliners receives invitations from churches to participate in a summer crusade. The group then brings 100-500 trained teens from Brandon’s Bell Shoals Baptist Church to the local church, training the youth in developing a personal quiet time and one-on-one evangelism. Each day, the youth go out — to the malls, the parks and through the neighborhoods — putting theory into practice and sharing the gospel.
The Salt Lake City Frontliners effort is coordinated with the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board, organizers of Crossover. Joining the Euless and Bell Shoals youth were teen groups from First Baptist Church, Pittsburgh, Texas; First Baptist Church, Roy, Utah; and Southeast Baptist Church, Salt Lake City. Frontliners will become an official element of Crossover in 2000, when Southern Baptists take their annual convention meeting to Orlando, Fla.
Green said Frontliners should give all Christians a reason to be excited about the next generation of believers.
“While we are doing important business of Baptists inside this convention center,” he said, “these youth are doing eternally important kingdom business on the streets of this city.”
The youth feel privileged to be part of the program.
“I’m honored God would allow me to be part of something that most teens would never get to do,” Marsh said. “We have no reason to be afraid. We aren’t out to convert people. We just share with people. We plant the seed and let God do the work.”

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  • Bryan McAnally