In June more than 100 college and seminary students will head from North Carolina to Baltimore to participate in hands-on mission as well as get in some theological training.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) and The College at Southeastern in Wake Forest are sending students and professors to Maryland to take a missions class as well as help church plants through Crossover Baltimore June 7 just before the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) June 10-11.
“We really want to see for the city of Baltimore a real sense of awakening,” said Scott Hildreth, director of the Lewis A. Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies at SEBTS.
SEBTS students will be joined by Southern Baptists from across the country
Baltimore Inner Harbor is just one of the places volunteers are likely to see while serving through Crossover Baltimore in June.
“We are excited about the interest we’ve seen from other states and churches to serve with us in Baltimore this year,” said Bob Mackey, executive director of the Baltimore Baptist Association, for a story by the North American Mission Board (NAMB). “These partners coming alongside us will help extend our reach around the city and connect our community to the local churches already at work in Baltimore.”
Mackey spent time at Crossover Houston last year to learn about Crossover and the many opportunities available during that concentrated time of outreach. He saw Southern Baptists partnering with the local association, churches and volunteers from across the country.
“We visited a lot of different events taking place as a part of Crossover Houston,” Mackey said. “It was exciting to see what God can do for a city through service and partnership. I left with a great sense of hope and expectation for what God will do when Crossover comes to our city this year.”
Hildreth said SEBTS leaders have been working with NAMB to coordinate their service in Baltimore. The students will be in class each weekday morning leading up to Crossover. In the afternoons, they will be teaming with churches in the area to reach their communities for Christ.
While the students will receive seminary credit for the class, Hildreth emphasized the ministry experience each student will receive as a result of their involvement in Crossover Baltimore. Baltimore is one of NAMB’s Send North America cities focusing on high concentrations of population and lostness.
SEBTS has been sending students to Send cities as well as mission trips overseas to work with the International Mission Board personnel. The seminary has also been online helping research for NAMB and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Students and leaders have been involved in 18 months of research of 100 metropolitan areas in America. Their findings will help Baptists better understand their communities – languages spoken, ethnic makeup, population, etc. The hope is that the research will help church planters find where they can make the biggest impact.
“We’re really asking the Lord as He raises up a larger than normal number,” Hildreth said. “We’re really hoping and praying that we’ll see an awakening across our campus.”
The seminary is waiving the cost of the class. The cost is $10 which includes a T-shirt and water bottle. NAMB is finding housing and providing meals for the students during its class and Crossover. Students also have the option of staying longer and taking a class on the SBC. They will have to find housing during those days.
Hildreth said students are “ready, willing and able” to serve. He and other seminary leaders hope that service “spreads a passion for spiritual renewal” and a passion for those who are lost to come to faith.
“We’re going to serve the church,” Hildreth said.
While Crossover Baltimore is generally the Saturday before the SBC, Hildreth, Mackey and other leaders hope the block parties, evangelism outreaches, health clinics, sports camps and various other outreach events will make a difference for years to come. Already there are participants coming from more than 12 states.
“Our churches are excited about the unique opportunity to share Christ with our city that Crossover will bring,” Mackey said. “Baltimore is not like a lot of other places in the country. We’re not in a predominantly Christian region of the country; we don’t have a church on every corner or throngs of people actively seeking out Christianity. Our hope is that, through the partnership of others in the SBC, Crossover will represent Christ to the people of Baltimore and our region and lay a greater foundation for our local churches.”
Mackey became a Christian when he was 15 after he encountered a Southern Baptist church in Connecticut. He considers Crossover an answer to prayer.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to have events like Crossover and the Southern Baptist Convention come to Baltimore this year,” he said. “To see the name of Christ glorified through service to our city is an answered prayer. Now our continued prayer is that individuals in our city who haven’t before had the opportunity to see what it looks like to see Jesus will see Him in the hands, feet and hearts of those serving at Crossover.”