By Brian Koonce
ORLANDO, Fla.—For the seventh year in a row, Franklin County (Mo.)Baptist Association churches answered the call for Crossover, the evangelistic thrust that precedes the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Crossover 2010 partnered local churches with 1,200 volunteers from around the SBC, including 46 from four Franklin County churches (Faith Baptist, Washington; First Baptist, Union; Prospect Baptist, Lonedale; and First Baptist, St. Clair), which helped University Baptist Church, Orlando, host a block party.
University Baptist is a small church of about 50 or 60 located in a poorer residential area of Orlando away from the touristy center of Disney World, Sea World and Universal Studios.
Lee Whitley, the pastor of Faith Baptist, is the evangelism director for Franklin Association.
“I wasn’t planning on coming back to Orlando,” he said. “But after last year’s Crossover in Louisville, we kept getting such great feedback. That forced me to sit down and ask what God wanted us to do. It was a long drive and it was a stretch for us, but we made it. Physically, I was whipped at the end, but it was good.”
It was a long drive and the Florida humidity in the middle of June didn’t help, but the Franklin Association Gospel workers didn’t complain as they unloaded popcorn and snow cone machines, assembled a dozen tents, painted faces, manned a variety of games, checked blood pressure, served lunch and shared the Gospel through a “Ball of Many Colors” and colored bead bracelets.
Four people accepted Christ through those two witnessing tools, and innumerable seeds were planted.
Another important aspect was simply being an encouragement to University Baptist, said Lee’s wife, Tina.
“It’s a small, struggling church and they needed a little something to pump them up,” she said. “I could see a difference by the time we left. The pastor’s face just lit up.”
“I talked with him at the convention on Monday,” Lee Whitley said. “He said Sunday in their worship service several families came to church for the first time because of the block party, and several recommitted their lives to Jesus through the block party.”
The eternal kingdom results are awesome, but number-wise, this was a big difference from last year’s Crossover in Louisville where the Franklin Association team hosted thousands of Hispanic families at a huge park.
“This was the smallest event we’ve done and our team said it was the most challenging,” Tina Whitley said. “We kept saying it’s not about the numbers. You have to remember that you’re doing what God has asked and that seeds have been planted and that’s good enough.”
The team from Franklin Association was the only group from Missouri that attended Crossover, a fact Lee Whitley said he hopes changes in the future.
“Just the unity it builds among our churches here is incredible,” he said.