|TEXANS PARTICIPATING in Crossover Atlanta included Allison Strickland (above, center) of Longview, shown talking with a man in Centennial Olympic Park June 12. The man, visiting Atlanta from his homeland of India, made a profession of faith in Christ. With Strickland, age 15, are Ashlee Clark, 13; Jenny Wheeler, 14; and Amanda Tarter, 16. The girls are all from Macedonia Baptist Church in Longview. (BP photos by Bob Carey)
Baptists put arms around Atlanta
___By Tim Palmer
___Missouri Word & Way
___ATLANTA--Saturday in the park took on a decidedly Christian flavor June 12 as Southern Baptists descended on Atlanta for their annual meeting.
___In fact, at Centennial Olympic Park, it was downright "Psalty," as the popular singing songbook character and his pals provided afternoon entertainment for a Family Fest event staged as part of Crossover Atlanta, a pre-convention evangelistic blitz.
___Two Christian rock groups--Third Day and Smalltown Poets--took the same stage Saturday evening for the Gettin' Free youth concert. Between the two bands' performances, the crowd of 8,000 heard testimonies from Darrell and Craig Scott of Littleton, Colo. They are the father and brother of Rachel Scott, one of the Columbine High School students shot to death April 20.
___An estimated 20,000 people attended the two events in Centennial Park. "This is the
biggest block party in Southern Baptist history," said John Yarbrough, North American Mission Board vice president for evangelism.
|WOODS WATSON and Robert Mugadi of Arlington Park Baptist Church in Arlington bow in prayer in Centennial Olympic Park June 12 as they participate together in a "prayer journey" through the streets of downtown Atlanta.
___In the afternoon, hundreds of young children bounced on, slid down and crawled through an impressive array of large, inflatable devices. All the while, hundreds of young "Frontliners" circulated through and around the park, sharing their faith and handing out free tickets for the evening concert.
___Lindsey Gaddis, one of a group of 56 Frontliners from Longview, said she and her friends witnessed to one man and one woman who then prayed to trust Jesus Christ as Savior.
___"There are no words to describe how awesome it is," Gaddis exclaimed. "We drove 12 hours, and we knew God was gonna do something."
___Kelly Green, head of the Brandon, Fla.-based Frontliners organization, said young people like Lindsey are effective presenting the gospel because adults don't feel intimidated by them.
___"People want teenagers to make it," he said.
___The Frontliners were to continue with door-to-door witnessing June 14-16. Several other activities of Arms Around Atlanta--a five-month evangelism, ministry and church-starting effort of which Crossover was a part--were to continue through the week. They included a World Changers housing rehabilitation/ministry project and sports clinics.
___Other Crossover events included surveying, street evangelism and block parties on the grounds of churches across the metropolitan area.
___About three dozen volunteers gathered Saturday morning at Emmanuel Baptist Church
in Riverdale, Ga.
|THE COLUMBINE CROSSES were displayed as part of a tribue to the 13 victims of the tragic shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.
___After a brief time of training, they paired up and went into nearby neighborhoods armed with a "New Millennium" questionnaire and gospel tracts. Workers included a dozen members of the Lumbee Indian Tribe from Island Grove Baptist Church near Pembroke, N.C.
___"We're Christians first," Lanette Locklear emphasized. "We're proud to be Lumbee, but we're very proud to be Christians."
___Not far away, Pointe South Baptist Church of Riverdale also was host to an out-of-state group. A team from Whitesburg Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., provided the entertainment for a block party/rummage sale.
___Whitesburg minister of missions Dick Thomassian introduced a drama that featured a sword fight between God and the devil, aided by three demons, for the soul of three people.
___"The devil is real," he roared. "He knows where to attack you. Be careful. Be careful."
___After the play, Thomassian invited those in the audience to profess faith in Christ, and 16 people responded.
___The Georgia Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board each contributed more than a half-million dollars to Arms Around Atlanta. Buoyed by reports of 1,000 decisions for Christ by early Saturday afternoon, GBC Executive Director Bob White said that was "the easiest money we ever put into an operation."
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