The Saturday morning sun glared down with fury as more than 400 Free Will Baptists from across the nation gathered at churches and homes throughout the Greater Birmingham area. Volunteers came armed with Bibles, hammers, chainsaws, and determination. In teams of two and three, they walked the streets of the city, taking the Gospel of Hope to every door along the way. Before the hot sun faded to a molten copper sunset, six people met the Savior in the humidity of central Alabama.
Free Will Baptists made history on July 15 as Impact Birmingham turned the focus of the convention outward. The one-day evangelistic campaign gave each volunteer an opportunity to be involved in one of three ways:
IMPACT EVANGELISM created face-to-face encounters with the citizens of Birmingham and surrounding communities. Using the F.A.I.T.H.* method of evangelism, teams of two or three went door-to-door distributing tracts, inviting people to their host church, and sharing the gospel when opportunities presented themselves.
In Prattville, evangelism teams visited 199 homes and shared the gospel 13 times. Volunteers at First FWB Church in Decatur distributed 800 flyers, visited 109 homes, and shared the gospel six times. At Forestdale FWB Church, 11 visitation teams visited 200 homes, and shared the gospel 14 times. In all, Free Will Baptists visited more than 500 homes, distributed 2,800 flyers, and led six people to Christ.
KINDNESS EVANGELISM extended a hand to people and churches in need. At Forestdale FWB Church, volunteers hosted a children’s crusade, cleared brush from the bank in front of the church, pressure washed the brick walls, shampooed the carpet and pew cushions, and planted new banks of flowers in front of the building.
In cooperation with Birmingham Baptists, 70 Free Will Baptist teens and sponsors painted housing in a low-income area of the city while others took mentally-challenged adults for a picnic. Pastor Mike Cox of the Forestdale FWB Church summed up the day, “We are grateful for Impact Birmingham. This effort was very beneficial for our church. It was a rare opportunity to have nearly 200 workers do more in 4-6 hours than our church could do in months. They accomplished more than I dreamed. If the convention ever returns to Birmingham, you can be sure our church will be involved again, and we look forward to helping other churches at future conventions.”
PRAYER SUPPORT strengthened the activities throughout the day as prayer volunteers met for hours, asking God to bless the efforts around the city.
Volunteers who came from California, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and other states were undaunted by the near 100-degree temperatures. Excitement and enthusiasm were abundant. “I just think it is amazing to see Free Will Baptists come together for something like this,” said Tina Brewer as she looked up from the flowers she was planting and wiped sweat away. “No matter what happens the rest of the convention, we will remember Birmingham for what happened today.”
As the day came to a close, tired but happy volunteers gathered for celebration. In Decatur, they devoured a 10-foot long banana split. But the taste of service left a sweeter taste in the mouths of everyone involved. Pastor Timothy York of the First FWB Church in Decatur, AL, summed up the day by saying, “It was great to watch the people in my church tackle this project. And next year, I’m sure they will want to be involved as we minister to the people in Little Rock.”
impact birmingham at-a-glance
1,200 volunteer hours
800+ flyers distributed
500 homes visited
The Gospel shared 33 times
Six first-time professions of faith
CHANGING LIVES...ONE AT A TIME