Published July 1, 2010
ORLANDO, Fla. (BP) — A friendly conversation, a story, a realization and a prayer: that’s the gist of what happens when one person shares and another accepts the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. And while the methods and venues may have varied, the scene played out more than 1,400 times June 7-12 as Southern Baptists expressed their core message of hope through Crossover Orlando.
The effort, held just prior to the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 15-16 annual meeting at the Orange County Convention Center, involved more than 70 local churches and 1,200 outside volunteers. Venues included weeklong Hispanic Crossover and Intentional Community Evangelism (ICE) efforts, as well as a one-day blitz June 12 that included 15 neighborhood block parties, visits to homes, food distribution at five churches, free water bottles for tourists on International Drive, and a huge family festival for the Hispanic community at the Central Florida Fairgrounds.
“The best thing summing up the week for me was for people to see Southern Baptists at their best – cooperating with one another at association, state and national levels,” said Mike Armstrong, executive pastor of First Baptist Church of Winter Park and coordinator of Crossover Orlando. “They saw the best of what Southern Baptists truly are, and that is a cooperative people.”
Crossover is coordinated nationally through the North American Mission Board.
Bill Faulkner, director of missions for the 168 churches in the Greater Orlando Baptist Association, said he believes the benefits will extend far beyond the spiritual decisions that were made.
“Encouraging churches in an event like this will help them see that they can do this all the time,” Faulkner said. “It doesn’t have to be a special event. It doesn’t have to be necessarily with volunteers from outside. They see it and they say, ‘Wow, we can do this.’”
Hispanic Crossover activities concluded with “Festival Para Toda la Familia” (Festival for the Whole Family) at the Orlando fairgrounds that drew more than 1,200 people. The festival included music, games for kids, food, door prizes, and regular presentations of the Gospel every hour and 15 minutes. Counselors were stationed throughout the area ready to share Christ, and ultimately 103 people made professions of faith.
“I think it’s great that at least 15 to 20 churches united to do something of this magnitude,” said Davide Abreu, a young member of Iglesia Bautista El Camino in Orlando. “We’re usually doing only stuff for our own people, but now we’re going out to the world.”
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