For decades Ed and Jackie Maxwell, who live in Clinton, Md. have traveled around the country to attend crusades even though most of those years she held down a government job and he was a public school administrator.
The Maxwell’s joined the Church of Christ, a group of members from the District, Maryland, and Virginia who recently traveled to Charlotte, N.C. for the 2017 Crusade for Christ from July 29 – Aug. 2. In 2011 the event took place at the Washington Hilton despite some cancelations and fear during a week where there were dire predictions of natural disasters in the D.C. area.
“Despite the earthquake and a hurricane, 278 souls were saved,” said Ed Maxwell, minister of the Suitland Road Church of Christ who was one of the key organizers of the D.C. event at that time.
Dell Prince, 41, of Waldorf, Md., who would normally work as a facilities manager at the University of Maryland, brought his wife and their four children along to take part in the group from Suitland Road. “I am doing the great commission to share the gospel with all people,” Prince told the AFRO. “Personal contact is really good complete with a warm smile.”
Mae and Andrew Johnson are also members of the Suitland Road Church of Christ. The couple has been married for 16 years and, according to Mae, their relationship began after she invited him to church. “I was a hard nut to crack but she never gave up me,” Johnson told the AFRO as he laughed and share a loving look with his wife. “Our goal is to plant the seed.”
For years Jack Evans, former president of the Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas, was the main crusade speaker, but he retired last year. Now Orpheus Heyward from Atlanta is preaching the nightly messages. “What makes the event important is that it provides people with a message from the Lord at a time in our country when there is great uncertainty,” Heyward said.
Other members, including Marcia Hooks, a lawyer at a Washington, D.C. law firm, and her husband Fred, a property manager in the city, were down in Charlotte knocking on doors for the Lord. “I hope that we can make a difference in the individual’s life,” Hooks told the AFRO. “We are knocking on doors. This is what I did at the church I went to as a child.”
While there are more high tech ways of sharing the gospel, Minister Daniel Harrison, national director of the Crusade for Christ and senior pastor at Chatham-Avalon Church of Christ in Chicago, said that there is nothing like evangelism that is “person to person.”
Harrison began the crusade in the Windy City in 1979. Since then the event has been held in cities across the country every other year. Harrison made a big push for people to come to Charlotte from the D.C. metropolitan area, because the need for “foot soldiers is so great.”
“There are less than 700 members of the Church of Christ in the Charlotte area and therefore we would like to go in there to baptize souls and bring them to Christ,” Harrison told the AFRO. On July 31, he said that while 250 people went out to knock on doors on the first day of the crusade he needs twice that number to get the job done.
“It is still important that we have a person to person, eye to eye contact. It is the best way to go. Sure, we need technology and social media but the best communication process is person to person,” he said.
On July 30, volunteers distributed 40,000 pounds of potatoes and held a health fair at the Sugar Creek Church of Christ. Sunday services were held at the Charlotte Convention Center. In addition to door knocking, the Crusade was broadcast live on social media to a much wider audience.
“Door knocking provides an opportunity but as we continue to move forward I hope to expand our media and use every possible avenue to spread the gospel,” Heyward said. “Hopefully we will let people know that Jesus Christ is the answer to whatever crisis is in their lives.”