Missouri Baptists share the Gospel at State Fair
By Bob Baysinger
August 26, 2003
More than 90 people receive Jesus, thousands more touched
SEDALIA – "Would you like to see three things God can’t do. Step right over here and I’ll show you … ."
Such were the words thousands of visitors to the 2003 Missouri State Fair heard the week of Aug. 7-17 as the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) converted its "free water" ministry tent into an oasis of "free living water."
According to the MBC evangelism office, there were at least 90 people who made professions of faith in Jesus Christ during the week after visiting the tent.
"It was definitely worth it, especially with all the salvations we’ve had," said Ron Melton, director of missions, Lamine Baptist Association. "Even if we had had only one decision, it would have made it worthwhile."
Melton evangelized at the tent most every day of the fair and preached in the tent on the two Sundays of the fair.
Bob Caldwell, director of evangelism for the MBC, said he was "totally impressed" with the way directors of missions "jumped in and made this thing work."
"We were in on the front end of the learning curve this year," Caldwell said. "What we’ll being doing in the next year is learning how to do it better. We’ll probably arrange the tent differently and beautify it some. And I think we’ll train more people how to be intentional about sharing Christ with those standing under the tent."
One of the items that attracted much attention at the tent was a small cabinet with three doors. A sign on the cabinet challenged passers-by to look at three things God cannot do.
When visitors opened the first door, they saw a sign stating, "God cannot lie." Behind the second door was the message, "God cannot change." The third cabinet door contained the message, "God cannot let anybody into Heaven who has not been born again."
Melton said 12 people were led to Christ the first day of the fair after they stopped and opened the cabinet doors.
A teen-age girl from Osceola attended the fair with friends Aug. 12. The four young people stopped to check out the cabinet and were asked if they had been born again. All answered in the affirmative, but a worker told the teen-age girl there was another way to ask the question: "If you lost your life in an accident on the way back to Osceola this evening, are you sure you would go straight to Heaven?"
She answered "no."
The girl was taken aside, presented the plan of salvation and, with tears streaming down her cheeks, asked Christ into her heart.
On Sunday, Aug. 17, the last day of the fair, a black couple stopped by the tent and began talking to Caldwell. When Caldwell began sharing Christ, the couple said they had to go because they didn’t want to get separated from their group.
Caldwell asked if he could walk with them, and they agreed.
After walking and sharing the plan of salvation, Caldwell said the pair stopped in front of a ticket boot and prayed to receive Christ.
Melton was so impressed by how the three-door cabinet worked that he returned home and began constructing more of the cabinets for any church or association that wants one. He said he can construct the witnessing tool for about $30.
"We’re going to put one on the side of the trailer we (Lamine Association) use at rest stops," Melton said. "We use the trailer to hand out water, lemonade, coffee and tracts. We’re going to use this now as a conversation starter."
The MBC has had a presence at the State Fair for many years, but the evangelistic effort has been limited for the most part to passing out free water and lemonade with a verse of scripture stuck to the side of the plastic cup.
"I think the emphasis on evangelism is good," said Cade Magruder, who worked at the tent one morning. Magruder doubles as pastor of Flat Creek Baptist Church near Sedalia and as assistant director of missions in Harmony Baptist Association.
"I’ll be back next year, and I’m going to encourage my folks to come out and participate," Magruder said.
Other witnessing tools used at the tent included packages of jelly beans with colors representing the plan of salvation, similar to color bead bracelets that were made and handed out at a table inside the tent. There were also stations where workers painted the faces of children, operated a million dollar trivia question stand, and monitored a table where some took an "IQ test."
The test began by asking: "How many of each animal did Moses take into the ark?"
It closed by asking: "Do you avoid Hell by living a good life?"
Ed Moncada, director of international student ministries, spent part of a day working at the tent. He returned to his St. Louis home excited.
"At one point several came to the Million Dollar Trivia booth that I was helping with," Moncada said. "I had to yell for back up help as people crowded for the game. At one point I was witnessing to six or seven that really needed to be spoken to one-on-one. I was able to lead two to the Lord.
"Several in the tent were consistently leading folks to the Lord throughout the day. Several on our staff, local DOMs and pastors were there to help. What a blessing that so many on a weekday were interested about finding the Savior. I spoke to many Catholics that were willing to listen. I met people from throughout our state and many visiting from other states. I estimated talking to about 70 people.
"I found core groups of Filipinos who were working at the Air Force base (Whiteman) and attending college (Central Missouri State)," added Moncada who is a native Filipino. "I got to witness to them in our Tagalog language. We plan to do some follow up with our Filipino mission team in the days ahead."