MBC churches set to blitz the ‘Bootheel’
By Bob Baysinger
July 6, 2004
KENNETT – Keith Rickman has planned an all-out attack on Southeast Missouri.
There won’t be any guns involved, only something “sharper than a two-edged sword” – the Word of God.
“We want to converge on this area,” Rickman told The Pathway. “We want to drop in like a SWAT team out of the sky and hopefully be able to spread the Word by our presence. We hope the Lord manifests Himself in a remarkable way.”
Dubbed the “Bootheel Blitz,” the evangelistic event is scheduled for Aug 4-8 with kickoff worship services set for the Kennett Fairgrounds.
The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) will be involved. Kenny Qualls, MBC associate director, will preach on Aug. 5. Bob Caldwell, MBC evangelism director, will preach the next two nights. Jay Hughes, MBC controller, will help with a three-on-three basketball tournament scheduled during the blitz.
After the first night of preaching, it’s going to be an all-out onslaught on what Rickman describes as “a spiritual depression over the area.”
“I’ve had pastors in the area explain it to me like this,” Rickman said. “They say as you drive into the area, it’s like there is a cloud of spiritual depression over the land. Pastors have told me this is the most difficult area they have ever worked in.
“They say it’s like a dragon has curled up and wrapped his tail around the Bootheel area. It’s like the devil’s power is in the area and the people can’t break free. We know the devil is not going to give up that area easily. There will be spiritual warfare involved.
“They seem to be steeped in generational bondage. It seems to me that many go to church on Sunday but live the rest of the week like they don’t go to church. It’s the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots.’ The church in that area seems to be an extension of their society and culture. It’s just something they do as a part of society.”
Rickman has been working with Focus on Missions, a ministry of Steve Smith and Heartland Baptist Church, St. Louis. Rickman said God has taught him while working with a St. Louis inner-city black church “to break down walls and introduce them to Christ.
“That’s what we want to do in the Bootheel,” Rickman said. “We want to introduce them to Christ and also introduce them to a freedom of life in Christ. We want to see a spirit of revival and a spirit of repentance and restoration in the area.”
Rickman’s interest in the Bootheel region stems from his youth.
“I grew up in Kennett,” Rickman said. “I split my childhood between St. Louis and Kennett. I was down there visiting family over the holidays six or seven years ago. I felt like the Lord was prompting me to go to the fairgrounds and pray. He impressed on me to do a significant Gospel event that would involve folks from all over the area and would glorify God in a group setting.”
After several years of visiting, asking questions and planning, the battle plan began coming together when Rickman paid a visit to Kevin Carter, director of missions, Black River Baptist Association.
“I bounced the idea off Kevin. He told me he had been wanting to so something like that, but had never taken the time or did not have the resources,” Rickman said. “I’ve started interviewing other pastors of all denominations. We want this to be larger than one church. We want it to be a community-wide thing.”
There will be four evening crusade services, featuring preaching and music. During the day, Rickman hopes there were will be teams from Missouri Baptist churches all over the state join him in taking the message of salvation to homes, parks and elsewhere in Kennett and throughout the Bootheel.
Sharing Christ is a passion for Rickman today. It hasn’t always been that way.
“I was born and raised at Kennett,” Rickman said. “I was saved as a young man. As a college-age man, however, I drifted away from the Lord. In my business, I found a new god and began pursuing that god instead of the real God.
“The real God got hold of me, broke me and led me to First Baptist Church, Arnold. It was there that I started to experience a level of worship and a level of lifestyle that was God-based and Christ-centered.”
Rickman still has close contacts in his home area. His uncle, Dale Rickman, is pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, Kennett.
A large number from Heartland Baptist Church, St. Louis, is scheduled to join Rickman’s efforts in Kennett. Others interested in participating in the “Bootheel Blitz” can email Rickman at firstname.lastname@example.org.