The diverse culture that makes New Orleans so unique will be utilized to the fullest this weekend as hundreds of Southern Baptist volunteers from across the city – from across Louisiana – head to the Crescent City to participate in Crossover 2009.
NEW ORLEANS – The diverse culture that makes New Orleans so unique will be utilized to the fullest this weekend as hundreds of Southern Baptist volunteers from across the city – from across Louisiana – head to the Crescent City to participate in Crossover 2009.
Beginning tomorrow and going through Saturday, the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans will undertake the biggest evangelistic outreach effort it has ever attempted in the city.
While Crossover is more than 20 years old nationally, the Louisiana Baptist Convention began the tradition of conducting an evangelistic emphasis – sharing the love of Christ – prior to its annual meeting in the host city two years ago in Lake Charles.
This year’s theme is Recovering, Restoring, Reconciling.
“It is without question the biggest evangelistic outreach our association has ever under taken,” BAGNO Evangelism Strategist David Rhymes said. “And it will be unique in terms of its size, scope and strategic focus.”
Rhymes and Kathy Frady, the drama ministry leader at Celebration Church in New Orleans, were a part of a group that observed and helped with last year’s Crossover which took place in Alexandria and Pineville.
“I was part of the group who came to take notes and gather ideas. We saw and learned a lot from last year’s Crossover,” Rhymes said. “One of things we did was to take the Crossover concept and make it fit New Orleans’ culture. In order to this, we had to step out of the typical format.”
What the committee came up with was a series of Restoration Festivals, which went above and beyond the typical block party. Each festival will be different from the other according to Rhymes, and each area was selected for a specific reason.
“We, the committee, feel the Lord led us to choosing each of these areas,” Rhymes said. “There are needs everywhere in New Orleans, but the needs in these three areas are very evident.”
The three festivals will take place at the Taylor playground in Central City; Frederick A. Douglas High School in the lower Ninth Ward, and the Oakdale playground on the West Bank.
“The Central City location has a big spiritual void,” Rhymes said, “which is why the crime and murder rate there is amongst the highest in New Orleans. Many people living there do not have a relationship with Christ, and we are hoping we can change that after this weekend.
“Douglas High School is right there on the edge of the lower Ninth Ward,” Rhymes said. “You know the Ninth Ward has come to symbolize the recovery efforts of New Orleans. Even today, more than three years after Hurricane Katrina, very few people have been able to return to their homes. We want to bring the focus back to the Ninth Ward – to lay the groundwork for a renewed effort.
“Our third festival site on the West Bank is right in the middle as far as class and race. It is a diverse place where we can possibly have the most success in reaching a lot of folks,” Rhymes said.
To maintain their ‘mission statement’ of bringing hope and healing into the lives of the people in these areas, the events will be unique and helpful to each locale they are targeting.
“We will have music, games, and plenty of food – jambalaya, red beans and rice, and bar-b-que – that are distinctively unique to the city,” Rhymes said. “We will also have such things as health and eye screenings, immunizations along with providing information on nutrition and well care.”
In other words, Crossover will allow Southern Baptists to make a statement to the greater New Orleans area that they are committed to seeing communities restored and moving our churches to the forefront of the recovery effort.
To do this is going to take volunteers – lots of volunteers.
“The majority of our volunteers come from the area, but there are a lot coming from across the state,” Rhymes said. “ICE is sending in teams a day early to go into Central City the day before our event in Central City. They will then break off and be at each one of the festivals.
“The rest of our volunteers will come from the churches in or near those areas,” Rhymes said. “We have a lot of volunteers
Grace Baptist Church Pastor Charlie Dale wrote in an email, “Grace and about three other churches (small churches with the exception of Fred Luter’s Franklin Avenue Baptist Church) are teaming up to run event at Douglas High School. Yours truly is in charge of this event, and the size and scope of it scares me to death.
“We are also expecting volunteers from each church, and some from the North shore of Lake Pontchartrain as well,” Dale goes on to write. “Please pray that God will use this event to reach the lost in our community.”
Director of Missions Lonnie Wascom says volunteers are still needed, but his three associations – Chappapeela, LaTangi, St. Tammany – will be provided quite a few “thanks to the effort of Nathan Lott and FBC Killian. They stepped up big time to assist with the upcoming Crossover.
“All kinds of volunteers are still needed such as clowns, face painters, grunt workers, music, stand around and visiting with those who come,” Wascom said.
“We have a number of volunteers, but we could still use a good many more to help with all the events,” Rhymes said.
“Every time a believer journeys to New Orleans and bears a faithful witness for Christ, he/she is helping to make that revival a reality,” BAGNO Director of Missions Joe McKeever said. “Our friends who come to help with Crossover will be greatly used of the Lord in the hearts of our people. As the Macedonians called to Paul, “Come over and help us!”
Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, says he believes volunteers who come to New Orleans to help with be a part of something great because the city is on the verge of a great first-ever revival.
“No city has ever been so sown with the seeds of the gospel like this one,” Kelley said.
For more information about Crossover events and how your church can be involved, contact: David Rhymes, Evangelism Strategist BAGNO at 504.282.1428 or email him at