HOUSTON (BP) -- As Southern Baptists gather in Houston to conduct the business of the convention, the power of believers working together to intentionally share the Gospel is being felt in the SBC host city, with nearly 400 new believers recording faith decisions.
The annual "Crossover" event featured 25 block parties on Saturday (June 8) and had reported more than 200 professions of faith as of Monday afternoon. In addition, 182 salvation decisions were recorded through door-to-door contact by local churches.
For the previous week, David Mills was guiding a group of students from several campuses of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southwestern to share their faith door to door and on the streets of Houston.
The SWBTS evangelism professor encouraged the students to make prayer a priority as they set out across the city, sharing their faith in very diverse settings.
"We have found where there has been intense and fervent prayer there is an openness to the Holy Spirit with humility and repentance," Mills said. "Otherwise, it's almost a hostility to the Gospel."
Students Benjamin Smith and Harrison Chow saw the results of prayer as they welcomed Jose and his son Fernando who had followed signs to a block party hosted by Northeast Houston Baptist Church.
"One student led that same dad I had prayed for to the Lord while the other student led the son," Mills said, noting his awe in the way God had directed them to the home where he had seen them earlier that wasn't even near the neighborhood.
Lazybrook Baptist Church sponsored two block parties as part of the outreach. The first was held at Colonial Apartments, a largely Hispanic low-income apartment complex. Pastor John Neesley said residents were surprised to see the church there.
One resident told Neesley, "I can't believe you came here because it's kind of dangerous. That's why most people don't want to come here."
The willingness of Lazybrook members and volunteers from Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida as well as seminary students led 13 people to profess faith in Christ.
Neesley recounted leading a boy to Christ who went back to his apartment and returned with his brother, who also prayed to receive Christ. They went back home and brought back a third brother who also was saved.
In door-to-door outreach, church members and volunteers at First Baptist Church in Pearland handed out more than 10,000 door hangers advertising their block party and shared the Gospel as they went.
Worship Pastor John Godby shared with a mother and son on their front porch. He asked if they wanted to pray to receive Christ and they said yes but also asked if a friend who had been listening from inside the house could also pray. "I said, 'Of course she can.'"
"God has been moving in amazing ways," said James Jordan, a member of Northeast Houston Baptist Church who coordinated four block parties and the participation of the Southwestern students. "Our pastor's focus in 2013 has been on prayer," Jordan noted, describing hour-long sessions on Sunday evening and corporate prayer during morning worship.
Longtime Crossover's visionary Darrell Robinson said the prevailing attitude that door-to-door outreach no longer works is false. What is needed, he said, are pastors who not only exemplify personal evangelism but convince laypeople it is their job to win souls and then equip them to do it. As with any evangelistic endeavor, fervent prayer and a humble spirit must precede door-to-door evangelism, he added.
A come-hear-my-preacher approach isn't enough, Robinson said, adding, "We must convince the people that it is their job" to evangelize as they go about their daily business.
Compiled from reports by Tammi Reed Ledbetter and Stephanie Heading of the Southern Baptist TEXAN newsjournal.