SEDALIA – In the heat and humidity of an August afternoon, a tent with fans and cool shade is an inviting prospect by itself during the Missouri state fair. Coupled with an opportunity to sign up for a freezer and 100 pounds of beef, chicken and pork, it seems even more welcoming. Baptist volunteers offer to enter visitors in a drawing in exchange for three minutes of their time.
The fair visitor (perhaps tentatively) comes into the tent and a friendly Missouri Baptist tells them how they found Jesus as their Savior (in 3 minutes). Then a question or two to see if the fair attender is interested in hearing more, and they either are or are not interested. If interested sometimes the volunteer can lead a person to Christ. Other times a person just wants to enter the drawing. Either way a friendly contact for Jesus is made.
David Mifflin, state fair ministry coordinator says over the last 5 years about 4-5% of the registrants respond to the gospel message in some way. He says “Approximately eight thousand people have registered and there have been about 300 professions of faith recorded.”
Some registrants are interested in connecting to a Baptist church in their community and the volunteers help make those connections.
“We’ve had some great testimonies from the volunteers,” Mifflin said. “Five years ago a lady in her 60’s was in the tent and she helped with the first profession of faith of the day. She had tears in her eyes as she said that was the first time she had led someone to Christ.”
“Some take this approach to evangelistic ministry back to their areas to use in county fairs and community festivals,” Mifflin added.
Baptist associations across Missouri work through the Missouri Director of Missions Fellowship to staff the tent, which is located across the street from the Touchstone Theater and directly behind the Commercial Building on the fairgrounds.
Officials said to get involved, individuals can check with their association’s director of missions and offer to assist. 20 of the 60 associations in the state are sending volunteers. Mifflin said there are open spots for teams which can be made up of several association volunteers. As of Pathway press time there were only about two days still needing coverage but volunteers (a few at a time) could be partnered with other existing teams.
The fair begins on August 11 and runs through the 21st.
Contact Mifflin to offer to help if the local association is not participating. His office phone number is: (660) 438-6678.
More information is available at: www.mobaptist.org/strategic-partners/state-fair-ministry/