ST. LOUIS, Mo. Brandon Kiesling, instructor of evangelism at Southwestern Seminary, says Crossover, the Southern Baptist Convention’s yearly evangelism push prior to its annual meeting, is significant for three reasons.
First, the lost are confronted with the gospel.
Second, local churches are reinvigorated during the weeklong evangelism push. “Many of the churches we work with do not have the drive and/or personnel to visit thousands of homes in one week,” Kiesling says. “So, the Southern Baptist seminaries send an army of trained evangelists to come alongside the churches to give them the boost they need to reach their communities for Christ.”
Finally, Crossover provides seminary students the opportunity to sharpen their skills in evangelism. “Over the week,” Kiesling explains, “each student will get multiple opportunities to share his/her faith with the lost, and many of them will get opportunities to lead people to Christ. This experience is invaluable to students as they are preparing for gospel ministry.”
All three of these elements were reaffirmed during this year’s Crossover event in St. Louis, June 4-11. Seventy-five students and staff from Southwestern Seminary participated, working alongside Tower Grove Baptist Church to ultimately visit more than 5,000 homes in five days. By the grace of God and to the glory of his name, these collective efforts ultimately yielded 105 professions of faith.
“I think SWBTS led the way among all of our seminaries in bringing the number of students they did but also in trying to re-establish that intentional evangelism is what Crossover is all about,” evangelism professor Matt Queen said.
Chris Coury, pastor of Tower Grove Baptist Church mapped out nearly 10,000 homes within the neighborhood surrounding their church. Teams of Southwestern students went door-to-door throughout the community of Shaw and knocked on doors with the express intent of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with members of the community. They passed out fliers to invite people to a block party at the end of the week, offered to replace smoke detectors in homes and prayed for the Spirit of God to lead them to people who were in need of hope.
“Of course when we can help people paint fences and install smoke detectors we want to do that, but our main concern is to tell people about the gospel of Jesus Christ; that’s what our students did, and we saw 105 people receive the Lord because of it,” Queen said.
Giving Hope to the Hopeless
SWBTS students began the week of Crossover on Monday, June 6. It was on this same day that master’s student Kim Whitten received a phone call that her brother and sister-in-law who were expecting their first child had lost their baby. Struggling as one who has hope, Whitten felt the Lord clearly telling her that he had called her to Crossover, even as she mourned the loss in her family. So, when a fellow Crossover team member fell ill the next morning, Whitten jumped in to help take her to the hospital for medical attention.
“I didn’t want to be in a hospital that day,” recalled Whitten, “because I couldn’t be at the hospital with my brother and sister-in-law, and it was a place I just didn’t want to be. But I knew this is where God had me, so I thought, ‘The Lord says give joy in all circumstances, so I’m going to have joy even while this girl is throwing up on my shoes.’”
After spending a full day at the hospital, Whitten initiated conversations with other people in the waiting room, always to be cut off due to external circumstances. As they were preparing to leave the hospital, a woman with a deep scowl on her face caught Whitten’s eye. She walked over, offered her a tissue, and asked one simple question, “Are you alright?”
Sindra, the woman Whitten approached, shared that she had lost her job, been kicked out of her home, and unable to feed herself for the past two days. “This is the worst day of my life,” she told Whitten.
Following the Lord’s prompting, Whitten shared the gospel with Sindra immediately.
After walking through the Romans Road, Whitten told Sindra she could have a relationship with Jesus Christ if she would just talk to him. Sindra began her prayer in earnest by telling God she didn’t know how to begin.
“But then she just said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’” Whitten said. “And the more she said ‘I’m sorry,’ the more broken she became. She was more broken over her sin than anyone I’ve ever seen.”
Sindra ended her prayer by simply stating, “God if you’ll give me hope, I’ll give you my life.”
Whitten saw a smile spread across Sindra’s face after she finished her prayer and a complete transformation in her countenance. Celebrating with her new sister in Christ, Whitten reminded her, “Today you walked in here with no hope and walked out with the God of the universe to give you not only life, but abundant life.”
Sindra’s story is just one of the many that Southwestern students experienced during the week of Crossover. Southwestern president Paige Patterson said, “The fact of the matter is that these kids change not only other lives but their own lives because they learn firsthand that you really can witness to people and see results, and they’ll spend the rest of their lives, many of them, witnessing. I’m extremely proud of them and grateful for them.”