AURORA – More than 1,800 students and adults packed Aurora High School’s Houn’ Dawg Gymnasium Feb. 4, and this time it wasn’t because of a Big 8 Conference varsity match-up.
“Brad Bennett and his Real Encounter team do a great job with the whole program and about halfway through, when Brad gives his testimony and an invitation, we saw 128 decisions and 102 professions of faith,” said Wade Rogers, senior pastor at First Baptist Church Aurora and church coordinator for the event.
The event took place as a partnership effort between the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), Real Encounter Outreach and Aurora-area churches. Real Encounter, which uses extreme sports as a platform to connect with people and point them to Christ, put on five school assemblies in Aurora and neighboring communities leading up to the event.
“Having invited Brad to be a part of our Evangelism Conference, I greatly desired to see a current expression of this evangelistic ministry in Missouri,” said Rick Hedger, missional evangelism/discipleship team leader for the MBC. “God stirred our hearts to contact Pastor Wade Rogers and Mark Snowden, and I prayed and collaborated to provide partial funding in partnership with FBC to see this event take place.”
He said funds were invested on behalf of Missouri Baptists through faithful giving through the Cooperative Program, as well as the Rheubin L. South Missouri Missions Offering.
“Together … every MBC church who gave has had a part in the accomplishments of this partnership with FBC Aurora,” Hedger said.
Rogers said this was the first evangelistic event in the community involving a lot of churches.
“Our church loved it,” he said. “We had great participation, including 100 encouragers who were trained to personally share the gospel and direct those who made professions of faith. We will do more events like this for sure.”
Hedger said any Missouri Baptist church or association is suited for partnerships like this. He said their evangelism team is placing great energy in prayer, training and recruiting MBC churches to partner with them to especially reach into the 2.3 million lost located in six counties comprising Kansas City and St. Louis. He said they have a goal of seeing 20 percent of MBC churches form partnerships in these areas within the next four years.
“When an association or church has developed a strategy for reaching and discipling the lost in their Jerusalem, our Judea of Missouri, contact our MBC missional evangelism/discipleship team,” Hedger said. “We will prayerfully connect with them where strategy connects in our efforts to make disciples, multiply churches and develop leaders resulting in the transformation of lives and communities with the gospel of Christ. We desire all of our MBC churches to awaken sent every morning of their lives.”
Real Encounter followed up their event here by participating in “Furnace,” the state evangelism conference, Feb. 5-6, where they led a breakout session on evangelizing through exhibitions.