November 5, 2002
SPRINGFIELD – As she watched children win candy and trinkets at the ping pong toss and lollipop game, Robin Hughes had one clear purpose on her mind.
"I want people when they leave to say, ‘Those people really cared us,’" she said.
Hughes helped organize the fall festival at her church, North Nixa Baptist, as part of Crossover Springfield Oct. 26. The coordinated effort targeted Southwest Missouri in the days preceding the Missouri Baptist Convention’s annual meeting. The theme of "Sowing Seeds in Kindness" emphasized initial outreach to the lost, said Jerry Field, coordinator of evangelism and church planting for the MBC.
"We’ve got to be about sowing the seeds if we’re going to reap the harvest," he said. Like several area churches, North Nixa hosted a fall festival in its gym with games and food to draw in the many families moving into the south side of Springfield.
"There are so many people in our community who do not know God," Hughes said. "By seeing our excitement and love for them, we may have a window to share Christ with them."
Youth and adults from First Baptist Church, Cassville, helped out at the festival. All totaled, more than 2,596 Missouri Baptists were involved in Crossover events.
"We just praise the Lord for the people and churches that came and gave of themselves to help with this effort," said Jim Wells, director of missions for Tri County Baptist Association.
Churches started hosting activities several weeks before Crossover, said Mike Haynes, director of missions for Greene County Association, which had about 40 churches involved.
"There’s been a lot of great things done by sowing the seeds of kindness," Haynes said.
Crossover Springfield organizers said 13,569 people were directly impacted by Crossover events. There were, 2,258 individual presentations of the Gospel, 2,159 tracts were distributed, 1,715 Bibles were given away and there were 99 professions of faith in Christ (339 if the inter-denominational Convoy of Hope sponsored by the Assemblies of God, in which Southern Baptists assisted, is included).
Several Crossover events involved servant evangelism, such as passing out light bulbs or washing car windshields or hosting a free winter car care clinic.
The Bridge, a new church in Nixa, handed out 2,500 packets of chili seasoning in subdivisions, apartment buildings and mobile home parks.
"A lot of these communities are new," said Richard Baker, pastor. "We want to introduce them to us and let them know we love them, no strings attached."
The Bridge, which has had an average attendance of about 50 in its first four Sundays, is dedicated to reaching out to people who are not attracted to traditional churches, which means the church uses some unique approaches.
"The biggest thing we think we’re doing is showing our people a practical way to do evangelism," Baker said.
Throughout the weekend before the convention, churches also participated in sports camps, prayer walking, street evangelism and an interdenominational event Convoy of Hope, Field said. In addition, a media blitz campaign targeted 32 counties in the region.
Crossover Springfield culminated with a concert at the University Plaza Convention Center Oct. 27. The choir was made up of members from more than seven churches and held its first and only joint practice a few hours before the concert. The musical shared a message of hope, said director Jeff Vick, minister of music at First Baptist Church, Springfield.
"The greatest blessing was to get the churches together," he said. "I was excited to see everybody come together."
Crossover Springfield served as the launching pad for a five-year project to reach out to the state, Field said.
"By and large, individuals are ignorant of the Gospel and Scripture as a whole in our culture," he said.