Over 100 churches throughout the state of Indiana are taking part in 75 events as part of an annual Southern Baptist evangelistic effort June 7-19. The effort, known as Crossover, is held each year the weekend prior to the Southern Baptist Conventions annual meeting in the host city. This year, about 1,000 volunteers are covering the city of Indianapolis reaching to the community through block parties, street evangelism, neighborhood prayer walking, door-to-door spiritual opinion surveys and more than 40 revival crusades.
More than 1,500 professions of faith in Christ had been recorded as a result of the Crossover efforts through June 12, according to reports submitted to the Metropolitan Baptist Association office in Indianapolis. And more than 900 phone calls had been received nationwide through the North American Mission Board's Evangelism Response Center requesting copies of the "The Hope" evangelistic video in response to a Southern Baptist television ad campaign underway throughout Indiana
Nearly 1,000 volunteers -- about half of whom are from out-of-state -- participated in the outreach, reported Doug Simpson, director of missions for the Metropolitan Baptist Association and block party coordinator for Crossover Indiana. Block parties featuring free food, children's games and prizes were held June 12 throughout Indianapolis in apartment complexes, city parks, shopping center parking lots, on street corners, and in rural open fields.
John Yarbrough, NAMB's vice president of evangelization, described Crossover as an evangelistic laboratory unifying Southern Baptists across the country in a convention-wide Kingdom-building effort.
"Crossover helps us focus as Southern Baptists on what we're all about," Yarbrough said. "It encourages the churches locally and leaves a residue of equipped witnesses to further impact the area for eternity."
Reports came in from throughout the city as volunteers reached out to the community. Near downtown Garfield Park, about 700 people attended the daylong "Jesus Family Picnic," an annual evangelistic extravaganza coordinated by Dusty Selig, pastor of an inner-city mission called The Spirit of The Lord Church. The event included live music, free food, a 40-foot inflatable slide for children and prize drawings for bicycles, T-shirts, and barbeque grills. Evangelist Keith Fordham from Alabama preached.
At Fellowship Baptist Church east of downtown on New York Street, pastor Gary Pitcock credited the success of the church's block party and door-to-door witnessing efforts to prayer. The block party drew about 200 people from the neighborhood and members of NAMB's Inner City Evangelism (ICE) teams recorded more than 50 professions of faith of teens and adults who live near the church.
"It's always a miracle when they come to Christ," said Jackson, who's also a NAMB Mission Service Corps (MSC) missionary in Wichita, Kan. "We find as we knock on doors that there's people that God's already prepared."
"These folks out here are just waiting for someone to tell them about Jesus," Jackson said.
Pitcock, a bivocational pastor, said Crossover has "given us an opportunity to reach out to this community that by ourselves we wouldn't be able to do."
Victor Benavides, a NAMB personal evangelism associate and coordinator of the ICE teams, said 20 ICE team members recorded a total of 884 professions of faith June 7-12 while sharing the Gospel door-to-door and with passersby on sidewalks and street corners throughout inner-city neighborhoods in Indianapolis.
Meanwhile, Baptist men's groups from churches in Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina and Georgia participated in "BMEN on Mission Pit Stop," a ministry evangelism project part of a new adult mission education emphasis by the NAMB's Baptist Men on Mission organization "Men @ Work." As some of the men provided minor vehicle maintenance on about 30 vehicles in the apartment complex, others shared the Gospel.
"We plan to take this back home and repeat it in our community because there's the same need there," said Rick Gastineau of Hyattsville Baptist Church, in Lancaster, Ky.
And John Dimmick, pastor of Sunnyside Road Baptist Church, said the efforts by nearly 30 of his church members and volunteers from Michigan and Virginia to canvass 1,000 homes made an eternal difference in their community as well. More than 250 spiritual opinion surveys were conducted, leading to 115 Gospel presentations. Thirteen professions of faith were recorded and 55 new prospects identified.
"We had a great day and greater days are ahead," Dimmick said.