2012 Florida Baptist State
Convention Annual Meeting
ORLANDO (FBC/FBW)—Beyond the bright lights and theme parks of Orlando lie the lives of thousands of “beautiful city” residents, many of whom are searching for lives of real meaning in a city that celebrates fantasy.
Florida Baptists joined efforts to reach seekers during Crossover Orlando, an evangelistic effort preceding the 2012 Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting Nov. 11-13.
This year’s multicultural evangelistic outreach took place in 14 venues and ranged from basketball clinics to block parties to youth rallies.
Approximately 2,800 people came to the events where the Gospel was presented more than 100 times, resulting in 147 professions of faith and about 100 prospects, according to Jeff Hessinger, lead strategist for the personal evangelism team for the Florida Baptist Convention.
“These 147 people who made professions of faith can now call heaven their home,” said Tom Cheyney, executive director of missions for Greater Orlando Baptist Association (GOBA).
“Thank you Florida Baptists for your great commitment to outreach and evangelism,” Cheyney added.
Crossover, a part of Florida’s evangelism strategy since 1991, is a joint effort between the local association, state convention and churches. Planning for the event begins as much as a year in advance as churches strategize how they want to reach out to their communities. The association and state convention then determine how they can best resource those outreach initiatives.
“The personal evangelism team of the Florida Baptist Convention was wonderful to work with as we strategically sought to reach out to Central Florida with the Gospel,” said Cheyney.
For many churches involved in Crossover Orlando, the experience provide a training ground and model for continued evangelistic penetration into the communities served by each church, according to Hessinger.
At about 6'6" tall, former Orlando Magic player Nick Anderson is hard to miss when he walks into a room. Speaking in the gymnasium of Orlando’s First Baptist Church, Anderson, the first player drafted for the Orlando basketball team, was able to tame a gym-full of more than 500 energetic children and their parents with stories of a tough upbringing, his basketball exploits, and the transformation in his life by Jesus Christ.
Pat Williams—the man responsible for bringing the professional basketball team to Orlando—sat on a stool beside the basketball phenomenon and told the young attendees, “God has something to teach you” in every circumstance of life.
As the basketball duo wrapped up their testimonies, David Uth, pastor of the mega church known for its outreach into its community, picked up a brightly colored basketball, with each color representing one aspect of the salvation message and shared the Gospel with the throng gathered for a free Saturday morning basketball clinic.
By the clinic’s conclusion, some 35 individuals had made professions of faith.
“Sports are a natural connection point with children,” according to Uth, himself a former college basketball player. “Their heroes are athletes.”
“We may do more today connecting with these kids through the basketball clinic than we might do through preaching,” he said.
As the cool morning air began to warm with the sun, the world-class Strength Team began its first performance of the day at Iglesia Bautista Santuario de Adoracion.
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