Published May 20, 2010
ORLANDO, Fla. — Todd Daniel and his youth group from First Baptist Church of Holly Springs are an answer to prayer to Bill and Brenda Faulker, 500 miles away in central Florida.
The Faulkners have been working for the past year to coordinate next month’s Crossover Orlando evangelism outreach when the annual SBC meeting comes to town in mid-June. And while Daniel has never meet the Orlando couple, his agreeing to serve – and bring 16 of his youth to the ministry event – epitomize the best of who Southern Baptists are, Brenda Daniel says.
“We would love to have as many volunteers like Todd and his youth group as we can get to come help us here in Orlando,” she states. “There are so many opportunities to share Christ that might go unfilled if people do not catch the Crossover vision in the next couple of weeks and agree to come.”
Bill Faulker serves as director of missions for the Greater Orlando Baptist Association. He and his wife have been busy challenging local Baptists, as well as those from around the nation, to come a few days early to the annual meeting and be personally involved in missions.
While Florida is located in what in past years was known as the Bible Belt, its needs are as great as in any less-churched area of the nation.
• Six percent of the unchurched in the United States and Canada now live in the Sunshine State.
• In Seminole, Orange, and Osceola counties where the association ministers, the ratio of lostness to the population is 80 percent.
• Seventy-four language groups call the central Florida area home, with only 25 of those being reached through local church ministries.
• The Southern Baptist church-to-population ratio in the Orlando area is 1 to 12,000 residents. Statewide that figure is 1 to 6,500, underscoring the massive population explosion that Orlando has experienced since Walt Disney World came to town in the early 1970s.
• The lostness of the three counties in the association range from 81 percent for Osceola to 82 percent for Seminole and 79 percent for Orange, where Orlando is located.
“We are asking Southern Baptists to come and ‘play with purpose’ as they enjoy the local amusement parks before or after the convention sessions,” Brenda Faulkner says. “They can prayerwalk anywhere they go as they go because the needs are so great. While in the amusement parks they can silently pray for the other tourists around them, for those severing them on the rides and in the stores, as well as those serving them in the restaurants.”
Daniel says this year’s Crossover will be the first on which his youth group has ever participated. His group, which will range in age from 12 to 17, “is very missions minded” and has gone on other mission trips but never experienced a Crossover.
“We thought it just made sense for us as a summer mission experience. Orlando is relatively close at about 8 hours by car, the need is great, and there are fun things to do before we return home. It has the best of everything that we are looking for,” he stated.
Daniel, who serves as youth pastor at the church located between Canton and Woodstock, said he will use the trip to build spiritual development in his youth and help them learn how to provide a Christian witness in a variety of settings. They are being assigned to a food distribution ministry at First Orlando.
“As I understand it, we will prepare boxes of food for distribution in advance, and then actually participate in the handing out the boxes as pre-screened families and individuals drive through a distribution area at the church,” he said.
“I think this will be a great experience for our youth. While we have participated in local and out-of-state projects in the past, this will be a good opportunity for our youth to meet and minister with others from all over the United States and Canada.”
Since Crossover originated during the SBC annual meeting in Las Vegas in 1989, more than 40,000 persons have prayed to receive Christ as a result of the annual evangelistic initiative. For more information and to see a complete listing of Crossover Orlando events go to www.crossoverorlando.com.
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