“I will never forget the first day that we went door-to-door.”
BP file photo by Dominique Bray
Witnessing door-to-door and street by street by Southern Baptist seminary students will be a key element of Crossover Phoenix, the evangelistic outreach prior to each year’s SBC annual meeting. During to the 2011 Crossover in Phoenix, Angelo Europe, right, a student from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, talks with Xavier who was willing to listen to the gospel presentation.
As in door-to-door evangelism.
Brittany Tennal and her husband Julius, from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, were among 100-plus students participating in Crossover St. Louis, the evangelistic thrust prior to last year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
This June, seminary students again will be partnering with local Baptists to share the gospel and, unique this year, invite residents in Phoenix to a Harvest Crusade featuring evangelist-pastor Greg Laurie on June 11 in the University of Phoenix Stadium.
For Steven Palmer, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Tool, Texas, it will be his third Crossover as part of his master of divinity studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. And it will be the second for the family – his wife Wendy, daughter Elisabeth who also is a Southwestern student and son Steven James who plans to enroll this fall at the L.R. Scarborough College at Southwestern, formerly known as The College at Southwestern.
Palmer has had plenty of Crossover conversations with people “who didn’t believe anything” or were of another faith but willing to have a conversation and hear the gospel. And he has been thrilled at the instances when “you’re able to lead someone to faith in Christ.”
Preston Nix, professor of evangelism and evangelistic preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said Crossover’s “immediate returns are souls saved – eternal returns included – as well as churches encouraged during that week.”
“But the long-term returns are better-equipped servants of the Lord with greater boldness as witnesses for Christ for a lifetime of ministry,” Nix noted.
That was Brittany Tennal’s experience in her first-ever door-to-door outreach during Crossover St. Louis.
“That morning, my professor made a joke that we should not be the person who prays for someone not to answer the door,” Brittany wrote in a recollection for Baptist Press (BP). “Although he was joking, I felt a twinge of guilt as I immediately realized how afraid I was.”
She hoped her husband would have the team’s first opportunity to share Christ.
“Little did I know that the Holy Spirit was already at work!” Tennal recounted. “As we came around the corner and approached the first house, my husband looked to me and said, ‘Look, there’s a woman already standing in the door. You can go first.’ He was right. She was standing there like she was just waiting for someone to come to the door!
“I panicked for a few seconds but quickly felt the reassurance of the Holy Spirit,” Tennal said. “The Lord reminded me that I knew and loved the same gospel that my husband did and that I had the same power of the Holy Spirit inside of me.
“With this confidence, I invited this woman to the community event at the church and started a spiritual conversation with her. Although she did not respond to the gospel that day, I was able to share the sweet truth of the gift of salvation offered through Jesus alone and plant a seed that I pray the Lord will water and grow in her heart.”
As the week went by, Tennal said, “I found myself knocking on doors a good bit louder. … I was even able to share the gospel with the woman who I sat next to on the plane ride home!”
Crossover “radically changed the way that I view evangelism and helped me grow as I took steps of obedience into this call that the Lord has given all believers in the Great Commission. That week changed the way that I talked with strangers, my coworkers, the students in our college ministry and my family.
“Looking back, I can see that it also played an integral part in my call to missions,” Tennal said. “In the months that have passed since the trip [to St. Louis], the Lord has led my husband and me to move to Johannesburg, South Africa, to reach parts of the city where the gospel has not yet taken root. What a privilege it is to be allowed to join God in His mission to fill the earth with worshippers and bring glory to His wonderful name.”
Crossover’s glory-infused moments can extend into amazing moments of new birth.
Nix recalled three different teams during 2015’s Crossover Columbus that attempted to witness at an apartment complex in the state capital and, each time, were told by a maintenance employee to leave.
“Before leaving, each team shared the gospel with the man,” Nix said. “The third group led him to Christ. It happened to be on his actual birthday that became his spiritual birthday when he was born again.”
Dale Allen, minister of evangelism at Great Commission Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, who is finishing a master of divinity degree at Southwestern, was at a bus station during Crossover Baltimore in 2014 to connect with other team members when a supervisor pulled up to ask how long he had been waiting for a bus. Allen walked to her car and explained that he was part of the Crossover initiative.
The supervisor got out of her car and read along once Allen opened his Bible to share the gospel, highlighting such scriptures at Romans 6:23 – “… the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” – and Hebrews 9:27 – “… it is appointed for people to die once – and after this, judgment.”
The supervisor soon knelt beside her car in prayer as she surrendered her life to Christ.
Once again, in Allen’s experience, “God just proved Himself to be God.”
For an overview of this year’s Crossover Phoenix, with information about the need for Southern Baptist volunteers, click here.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. Gary Myers of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary contributed to this article.)