November 2017 Issue
Crossover 2018 Incorporates Personal Evangelism
by Tammi Reed Ledbetter
Frank S. Page, right, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, and Joe Gonzalez, a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) from San Antonio, Texas, share the Gospel with a member of the Glendale, Arizona, community as part of Crossover 2017. Gonzalez was one of seventy-five SWBTS students and alumni who conducted street evangelism in the greater Phoenix area prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 13–14 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Photo by Kathleen Murray.
From Greensboro to Nashville to Salt Lake City, David Galvan remembers joining with thousands of other Southern Baptists to share his faith in neighborhoods of the cities that hosted Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings. “I found them to be a joyful time of outreach,” he recounted.
This year the pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida in Dallas will be making door-to-door visits in his hometown as a part of the pre-convention Crossover Dallas evangelistic outreach. “It gets the churches together in a common endeavor.”
Intentional Personal Evangelism
“The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is facilitating connection points for churches to do intentional personal evangelism in the Dallas-Fort Worth area before the June 12–13 annual meeting,” stated SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards. “Our prayer is that God will use the work of these churches to reach people with the Gospel.”
Door-to-door witnessing is an effective way to impact our communities, Richards said. When Houston played host to the SBC meeting in 2013, the annual Crossover event reported more than two hundred professions of faith. In addition, 182 salvation decisions were recorded through door-to-door contact by local churches.
Reaching the Nations Across Texas Vision and Mission Trips
Whether it is the week leading up to the June 12–13 meeting, extending their trip into the next week, or finding another time frame later in the summer, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention invites mission volunteers to consider opportunities to serve other areas of the state as well, noted Barry Calhoun, SBTC director of missions mobilization.
“In 2018 we will have opportunities for churches in other states to get a taste of foreign missions in Texas along with some Texas BBQ,” Calhoun said. “There will be vision tour opportunities in key cities in June for pastors, mission leaders, and church members as they visit our state.”
With more than twenty-eight million people in the state and eighteen million of those lost and without Christ, Calhoun said the twenty-five to forty thousand people moving to Texas every month increases that ratio.
“We can’t plant enough churches to keep pace with the population growth, so we need other states partnering in Texas to help us reach the nations that have come to us,” he stated.
Seminary Students Sharpen Skills
Crossover also provides seminary students the opportunity to sharpen their skills in evangelism. As assistant professor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Brandon Kiesling will coordinate an entire week of home visits in local churches.
“Many of the churches we work with do not have the drive and/or personnel to visit thousands of homes in one week,” Kiesling said after last year’s effort in Phoenix. “So the Southern Baptist seminaries send an army of trained evangelists to come alongside the churches to give them the boost they need to reach their communities for Christ.”
Over the course of a week, each student has multiple opportunities to share his or her faith with the lost and many of them get to lead people to Christ, he said. “This experience is invaluable to students as they are preparing for Gospel ministry.”
Harvest America Crusade
At the invitation of the North American Mission Board, Southern California evangelist and pastor Greg Laurie returns to AT&T Stadium in Arlington to hold his national Harvest America outreach on Sunday, June 10 as the culmination of Crossover. Event-driven and door-to-door evangelism efforts will be spread throughout the DFW metropolitan area on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, June 7–9 as part of the 2018 Crossover outreach and help spread the word about the Sunday night crusade.
1Cross App Crosses Language Barrier
When three students found themselves unable to communicate clearly with a Hispanic woman in Phoenix, one of them pulled up the 1Cross app on her phone to explain the Gospel. With more than three hundred languages spoken in Texas, SBTC developed the evangelistic tool for sharing the message of the Gospel in multiple languages. The three-minute testimonies in video form feature native speakers, making it possible to overcome a language barrier when witnessing.
A Spanish-speaking seminary student returned to the same house to ensure that the woman understood the Gospel message and listened as she responded with repentance and faith.
The Reach Houston Initiative combines church planting and revitalization in the fourth largest city in the United States. Houston is home to more than 350 ethno-linguistic people groups speaking more than 220 languages, making it the most diverse city in North America. Over a dozen new church plants are spread across the region, many of them in need of volunteers to help them recover from Hurricane Harvey.
“We also have the longest border of any southern state,” Calhoun said, “and our borderland strategy helps to carry the Gospel of Christ into Mexico from the Rio Grande Valley to El Paso, without us ever crossing the border as part of our Reach Houston and Borderlands Reach initiatives.”
Crossover Dallas—and All Across Texas—in 2018
Wherever and through whatever means volunteers decide to serve in Texas, SBTC Evangelism Director Shane Pruitt is confident God will bless their time in the Lone Star State. “Personal evangelism still works because the Gospel still works,” he said.
“It’s easy to get in a Christian bubble where everyone is ‘found,’” he added. “To reach the lost, we need to be around the lost, and personal evangelism through intentional efforts provides those opportunities.”
For more information on Crossover Dallas witnessing efforts, contact Shane Pruitt at email@example.com or call 877-953-SBTC. Details of other opportunities for mission teams will be posted at sbtexas.com/mobilization.
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