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OPINION

World Series gives Mich. Baptists an entree

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DETROIT (BP) -- Michigan Baptists are using the World Series in Detroit as an opportunity to share the Gospel with fans headed to the games between the Tigers and the San Francisco Giants at Comerica Park.
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The series, in which the Giants hold a 2-0 advantage, moves to Detroit for games on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 27-28, and, if necessary, Monday, Oct. 29.

"Although Michigan is a mission field, I am so proud of Michigan Baptists for being a mission force," said Bobby Gilstrap, lead state missionary and executive director of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan.

"Opportunities like the World Series outreach allow churches to mobilize their people for evangelistic impact," Gilstrap said.

Volunteers from Michigan Baptist churches have been assembling outreach packets that contain materials from the North American Mission Board's "Find It Here" evangelistic campaign as well as trading cards of current and former Detroit Tigers with their testimonies on the back. Volunteers will distribute the materials to fans around the stadium beginning with the game on Oct. 27.

Projects such as this are more difficult in Michigan than in some states with larger conventions, Gilstrap said, because about two-thirds of the convention's churches have 50 or less worshippers on Sunday mornings.

For the trading cards, the Michigan convention worked with SCORE Ministries director Jeff Totten. The cards feature such players as Tigers utility outfielder/infielder Donnie Kelly and second baseman Ramon Santiago, as well as former Tiger Willie Horton, a member of Detroit's 1968 World Series championship and a four-time All-Star.

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"My life and priorities began to change when I fully yielded all areas of my life to Christ," Kelly writes in his testimony. "I continue to try and live God's will in my life, and it is always interesting to see how God has used certain experiences in life to mold me.

"Through good and through bad, I always try to fully trust in God's plan for my life and to maximize the talents and gifts He's given me for His glory."

Gilstrap said two Baptist associations did outreach projects during the 2006 World Series in Detroit, which led to some relationships and partnerships that helped this year's effort. He said this year's outreach involves more churches and more volunteers than the 2006 outreach.

Tim Ellsworth is editor of BPSports (www.bpsports.net), the sports site of Baptist Press. He also is director of news and media relations for Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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