ORLANDO, Fla. – Marc Dewever’s regular ministry position is in front of the church leading worship at Faith Baptist in Washington, but when summer rolls around he puts those strong lungs to another good use: balloon animals.
OK, so he uses a pump to blow up each of the thousands of balloons he carries on him. But the method of inflation isn’t what’s important; he said it just gives you one more opportunity to shine the light of the Gospel.
Dewever has done balloon animals in at least seven states and two countries, most recently at a block party hosted by University Baptist Church in Orlando as part of Crossover, the evangelism push immediately preceding the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was one of 46 people from Franklin County Baptist Association that drove more than 1,000 miles each way to help minister to the people of Orlando. It’s not the type of ministry that features altar calls and scores of professions of faith, but it is just one more element of fun to draw in families to make initial contact with the church.
Nearly 200 people showed up on the grounds of University Baptist, most of them unchurched and most of them coming away with a balloon giraffe, hat, dog or Dewever’s personal favorite creation: a parrot.
“I love working with the kids and seeing the smile on their faces,” Dewever said.
About 10 years ago, the person assigned to do balloon animals at a church block party fell through, and he had to learn to tie balloon animals by reading a book on the fly.
“And now I’m the balloon man,” he said.
He has also passed out balloons at the Washington County Country Fair (the second largest in Missouri) at the church’s booth. In 2008 he went on a medical mission trip to Ghana and he brought along his balloons.
As the people lined up to visit the clinic, he kept them entertained with his twists and designs.
“They had never seen anything like it before and they were very excited,” Dewever said. “It was very simple, but it was a big draw to people that needed to hear the Gospel.”