August 12, 2003
ST. LOUIS – A total of 292 souls were led into the kingdom of Christ through Vacation Bible School (VBS) ministry that took place in the St. Louis metropolitan area July 25-Aug. 1, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) staffers reported.
State Evangelism Director Bob Caldwell shared the numbers generated through the "St. Louis Project Student Mission Trip." Eighteen Missouri Baptist churches ministered at 15 sites on both sides of the Mississippi River. Total enrollment for the VBS was 1,536.
"That’s God-sized stuff," Caldwell said.
Executive Director David Clippard toured five of the inner city sites in St. Louis as part of an MBC delegation that came to learn more about the Global Encounter movement, of which the student mission trip was a part. Springfield-based Global Encounter was founded in 1992 by Caldwell and is designed to evangelize inner cities, minister to declining churches and train future leaders. During his tour Clippard commissioned the participating students as missionaries.
"It’s encouraging to see our young people crossing every barrier to share Christ," Clippard said of the students who were mostly white and are from rural and suburban Missouri.
In conducting the ceremony Aug. 1 for some 500 youths at First Baptist Church, O’Fallon, Ill., Clippard said some could end up as pastors of MBC churches over the next 10 years, when the convention aims to grow from about 2,000 churches to 3,000.
"Hear His voice, do His work, walk in His way," Clippard said. "Spirit, this is Your work, and we rejoice in what You’ve done," he prayed.
Caldwell said Global Encounter entered into an intentional partnership with First Baptist Church, Houston, Texas, in 1998. The idea has been to train missionaries in both Houston and St. Louis. Now, with the help of the MBC, Kansas City will come alive in 2004 as the third point of the triangle, Caldwell said.
Caldwell’s vision and the MBC’s vision are identical, Clippard said.
"We want to mobilize people for personal involvement in missions — not just their prayer and financial support. We’re interested in their personal involvement in missions."