A year of planning and praying by Indiana Southern Baptists combined with volunteer support from across the country resulted in 1,932 professions of faith during an evangelistic blitz accompanying the mid-June Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, according to Baptist Press News.
Crossover, held each year in the host city of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, saw 430 Southern Baptist churches and missions participate in the effort to reach out to this year’s host city of Indiana. And close to 1,000 volunteers—about half from out-of-state—joined the Crossover outreach conducted largely on June 12.
John Rogers, director of evangelism and prayer with the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, said the professions of faith were recorded through revival crusades, evangelistic block parties, prayerwalking, street evangelism, door-to-door spiritual opinion surveys and other initiatives. "Only heaven will reveal how many more will get saved out of Crossover because of the burden these new Christians have to see their family and friends come to Christ," Rogers said.
According to Rogers, 80 professions of faith were recorded during the weekend revivals held across the state before and following the SBC annual meeting. About 50 Florida pastors and evangelists led the revivals as part of the Florida Baptist Convention's ongoing partnership with Indiana Baptists.
Rogers said he is hopeful that ongoing follow-up efforts by Indiana churches with prospects and new believers will result in record baptisms for the state in 2004-05. "Some plant, some water, but it's God who gives the increase," he said.
Jon Beck, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, located about an hour south of Indianapolis in North Vernon, said the Crossover efforts have brought a renewed sense of purpose to his congregation of nearly 300 people -- the only SBC church in a county of 20,000 residents.
About 20 people from Beck's church volunteered at two inner-city block parties in Indianapolis on June 12. Since then, Beck has baptized about 20 new Christians at Bethel Baptist.
"[Crossover] was the first time some people in our church had done ministry outside the four walls of our church outside our community," the pastor said.
An estimated 70 percent of Indiana's 6.2 million people don't profess to be Christians while Southern Baptists across the state number nearly 100,000.
Dick Church, manager of personal evangelism for the North American Mission Board (NAMB), which sponsors the annual Crossover effort nationally, said local churches are encouraged to connect with new Christians 10 times over the next four weeks following their decision for Christ to begin discipling them in the faith and involve them in the church.
"Follow-up is always a top priority for Crossover," Church said.
Rogers said a number of ethnic churches were bolstered by the Crossover outreach. NAMB's Inner City Evangelism (ICE) teams largely in African American communities resulted in more than 850 professions of faith.
Victor Benavides, a NAMB personal evangelism associate and coordinator of the street evangelism teams, shared the Gospel east of downtown Indianapolis on New York Street near Fellowship Baptist Church, an area known for gang violence, drugs and prostitution.
"We just don't know the real impact of our co-laboring with God," Benavides said. "Only in eternity will we really know the fruits of our efforts."
Rogers also reported that 1,499 phone calls from across the state were received by NAMB's Evangelism Response Center in response to an evangelistic television advertising campaign. Thirty-seven professions of faith were recorded by phone and about 1,000 requests were taken for a free DVD of the film, "The Hope," which outlines the Gospel as revealed in Scripture from Genesis to the rise of the early church. As part of the local church follow-up response, the DVDs will be hand-delivered.
Rogers said the Crossover experience for churches in Indiana has created a healthy sense of interdependence unprecedented in the convention's history.
"God blesses obedience and commitment," he said. "Where people took serious the matter of prayer, there were God-sized results."
Since 1989, Crossover has been a part of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, providing opportunities for messengers to the convention to participate in evangelistic events around the host city -- primarily on Saturday before the convention. More than 33,000 people have been led to faith in Christ through the effort.
Next year, the host city for the SBC annual meeting will be Nashville, Tennessee. With the meeting sheduled for June 21-22, Crossover is slated from June 17-19.
[Source: BP News]