In a celebration luncheon on Monday during Annual Meeting, there was cause for much rejoicing as stories were shared of evangelism outreach throughout Waco and the surrounding Central Texas area. City Reach Waco, an intentional emphasis on evangelism in the Annual Meeting host city, involved a prayer initiative, soccer tournament, prison outreach and neighborhood block parties.
Vince Smith, director of missions for Collin Baptist Association, shared about an initiative in Collin County to pray for every home in the area. An idea started at First Baptist Church, McKinney, mobilized 900 volunteers sinced February to personally pray for the 900,000 homes in the association.
"Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He knows us each by name," Smith said. "Therefore we should intentionally pray for each person in our city by name."
Inspired by the project, Scott Willingham, Texas Baptist director of evangelism, shared Texas Baptists will be adopting the model statewide in 2015 through Pray 4 Every Home Texas.
Greg Wallace, chair of the Executive Board Evangelism Committee, then discussed the vision of the committee for "engaging and equipping leaders to love everyone with the Gospel of Christ."
More than 2,500 people had opportunity to hear the Gospel through 14 neighborhood block parties hosted in the Waco area, according to Tim Randolph, director of mission for Waco Regional Baptist Association. The intentional evangelism strategy engaged several churches in community outreach, which had not previously reached out in the surrounding neighborhoods.
"A fire was lit to get out of their borders, their box, to share Christ," said Billy Edwards, pastor of Brazos Meadow Baptist Church in Hewitt.
One church hosted a tent at the Heart of Texas fair, providing the opportunity to engage 298 families with the Gospel.
"When we get the courage to go into the world and share the Gospel, things happen that only God can do," Edwards continued.
During Fiesta Familiar in September, coordinated in conjunction with Hispanic Ministries and the Waco Regional Baptist Association, 1,700 people attended a soccer tournament and block party. At the soccer tournament, six teams comprised of children ages 6 to 11 competed for medals and trophies from 10:00am to 5:00pm. The event was widely successful and will be adopted by several Hispanic churches throughout the state in 2015.
Although it was unusually cold the weekend prior to Annual Meeting, Central Texas churches were still able to partner with Bill Glass Prison ministry to reach out to five area prisons and share the Gospel with more than 11,000 inmates. Six hundred volunteers from approximately 300 churches engaged in personal testimonies resulting in 2,827 rededications and 1,023 individuals praying to receive Christ as their personal Savior.
Tully Blanchard, national field director of Bill Glass Behind the Wall ministries, shared that inspite of the frigid conditions, many were touched by the event.
"Whatever it takes to get people to share the Good News - people will listen, you just have to share it," he said.
Overall, the evangelism outreach in Waco and the surrounding area in 2014 provided numerous opportunities for spiritual conversations and encouraged local believers to be more intentional in day to day evangelism. The Evangelism Ministry is looking forward to many events in 2015 through City Reach Frisco.