‘Final For Him’ saturates St. Louis with Gospel
By Allen Palmeri
April 19, 2005
ST. LOUIS – A partnership between a Minneapolis businessman and a network of 15 St. Louis-area churches that was coordinated by a staff person from a Missouri Baptist church resulted in the consistent proclamation of the Gospel during the NCAA Final Four April 1-4 in downtown St. Louis.
Jon Brovold of JEB Enterprises, which owns the rights to NCAA Final Four merchandise as well as six stores around the Edward Jones Dome, worked with Kimberle Fowle, children’s minister for first through sixth grade at West County Community Church, Wildwood, to create “Final For Him.” The outreach effort featured Christian bands and entertainers as well as 75 volunteers distributing tracts/testimony cards, free water and free popcorn. About half of the participating churches were Missouri Baptist.
An estimated 250,000 visitors came to St. Louis for the basketball extravaganza. Hoops fanatics who did not have tickets to the final game April 4 between Illinois and North Carolina crowded around a big screen television at the Hampton Inn, which was the official Final For Him headquarters. At halftime, the Gospel was presented to those viewers in the hospitality center via DVD as CBS analyst Clark Kellogg gave his testimony.
“We measured the success not necessarily by the decisions that were made but by the saturation of the Gospel,” Fowle said. “We knew that our volunteers were out there and really working hard.
“It was wonderful when you went up to someone to hand them a baseball card about Jesus and saw that they already had one. That was, I think, a huge measure of the impact it had. Literally 10 people can reach thousands and thousands of people, because the crowds were so great. Very few people declined them. Many people welcomed them warmly.”
Fowle said she was pleased by what happened at Final For Him headquarters the night of April 4 when more than 100 people watched the seven-minute Kellogg DVD.
“There weren’t a lot of believers in there, and it was great to be able to just lift up Christ,” she said. “They were coming in expecting to watch the game. They got a free bottle of water and a bag of popcorn, but yet they got so much more. They got Living Water.”
Famed Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon did a demonstration of his basketball skills at the St. Louis Center Mall April 1 followed by his testimony. Lemon also did a free clinic for youth in the inner city April 2. Team Xtreme proclaimed the Good News daily through amazing feats of strength, and 30 local Christian bands and two Christian radio stations broadcasting live near the Dome helped nudge the partying culture a bit more toward the things of Christ.
“I felt like if Jesus would have been there, He would have been right down there with us,” Fowle said. “For some believers, they didn’t want to come down. The traffic was too hard, we heard, and parking was going to be too expensive. But for others, they said, ‘This is where Jesus would be if He would be here in town, and we don’t want to miss an opportunity.’”
Fowle took on the coordinator position after she found out about the opportunity in the first week of March. The shortness of time made for intense preparation in the days leading up to the event, but she had plenty of support from her church friends at West County, who have grown accustomed to taking on major evangelism projects under the leadership of Pastor Phil Hunter.
“It was a lot of hours, but it was very fruitful,” she said. “Our church does a lot of outreaches like this. This is just another one of those springboards to reach your community, so we saw it as a no-brainer. Why not impact our city in a great way?”