Arkansas Baptists join a canvassing team to pray before heading out to witness to Fort Worth residents. Photo by Joe Westbury
Arkansans sweat in the Texas heat to share Christ’s love at SBC Crossover
Special to the ABN
FORT WORTH, Texas – The sun was hot and the air was dry and the shade was sparse. But that didn’t keep Arkansas Baptists who participated in Crossover prior to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting from sharing their faith.
Guzzling cold bottled water and lathering on plenty of sunscreen were the order of the day on Saturday, June 9, as two of those volunteers, students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, took their faith to the streets.
By the final day of Crossover, 100 Southwestern seminarians had contacted 13,129 homes, participated in 1,993 gospel conversations and recorded 213 professions of faith. When 75 other participants are included from the four Southern Baptist seminaries partnering with Southwestern, the numbers totaled 19,464 homes contacted, 3,180 gospel conversations and 340 professions of faith.
After six days of door-to-door evangelism by seminarians, the Harvest America rally was held on Sunday evening, June 10, at AT&T Stadium, where approximately 35,000 guests heard the gospel proclaimed by California pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie, and approximately 2,300 made professions of faith.
Dennisa Reade, a member of Leslie Baptist Church, Leslie, was among numerous Arkansas Baptists who spent the week sharing their faith at Crossover Dallas.
Reade, a Master of Divinity student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was on a team knocking on doors in the Fort Worth area, giving gospel presentations and leaving information in advance of the Harvest America rally.
Reade’s husband, Chris, is pastor of Leslie Baptist and received a Master of Divinity degree from the seminary in December.
“I love to share Christ with people,” Dennisa Reade said under the shade of a tree as temperatures reached 100 degrees in the city. “It’s been on Chris’ and my heart for a long time. Bringing people to Christ is just what Christians do. We are trying to lead our church into a very missional mindset, and there is no better way to lead than by example.”
Chris McCarty, young families and children’s pastor at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Cabot, was also one of those students knocking on doors.
He is working on a Master of Divinity degree with an emphasis in preaching and evangelism. It is his first Crossover but not his first mission trip. His interest was piqued from a previous experience on a mission trip to Guatemala. That trip featured an outreach called Operation Go, similar in concept to Crossover: encountering local residents with the best news they would ever hear, he said.
“I had such a good experience sharing my faith on that trip that I wanted to see if people in my own culture would respond as well as the Guatemalans did. This has been an incredible experience,” he said.
Comparing the two experiences, he said he had “a huge amount of responses” as he knocked on Fort Worth doors. The majority, like in Guatemala, were positive conversations about the gospel.
“Even when decisions were not made, seeds were still planted, and that’s why we were out there. But yesterday we saw a young man come to Christ after a very long day of not seeing any positive responses,” he said.
“What was so remarkable is that we did not approach him, but he came right up to us out of curiosity. He asked who we were and what we were doing, and we began sharing the gospel; he accepted Christ right there,” McCarty explained.
“It was clearly a God-ordained encounter.”
The soft-spoken Arkansan expressed support for Birchman Baptist Church in the White Settlement community in west Fort Worth, where his team was based for the week. The church provided meals, resources, prayer support and information on neighborhoods that needed visiting.
“I have never seen a church with such a strong prayer ministry. While we were out, we tweeted out specific prayer requests for a situation, and church members followed us and immediately begin interceding for that situation. They were literally praying constantly for Crossover and our efforts as their ambassadors. They followed #Crossover18 as well as their feed, #bbca18,” he explained.
The Southwestern team leader assigned to Birchman for the week was Jonesboro resident Dalton Hodges, from Walnut Street Baptist Church. Hodges handled logistics for teams operating out of the church, keeping volunteers like McCarty fed, rested, hydrated and supplied with plenty of sunscreen, a little bug repellent, and Harvest America as well as Birchman Baptist Church door hangers.
Hodges considered himself a “gofer” for the week, working in the shadows but in a critical support role, “going for this, going for that. Water was important … I couldn’t let my people get dehydrated in the heat,” he said.
Hodges is employed full-time at Southwestern, coordinating international mission trips through the World Missions Center. It’s a job that dovetails perfectly with his Master of Divinity major and its emphasis in international church planting.
Like McCarty, this was his first Crossover experience and, though he wishes he had gone out door-to-door, he acknowledged his assignment helped him use his organizational skills.
His experience in Evangelism Explosion at his home church helped lay the groundwork for his love of sharing his faith. He accepted Christ at 18 and was involved in the outreach from high school through college.
“I grew up in a Christian home and know all about Christ, but the pieces just never fit together. It wasn’t until I accepted Him that it all made sense … that being a Christian was more than just going to church on Sunday like I had been doing for years. Being a Christian is a total lifestyle experience; it affects all you do and all you are,” he explained.
“Christ changed my life, and I realized it is my responsibility to tell others about Him.”
Joe Westbury is managing editor of The Christian Index, the official news journal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.