After CrossPoint Church in Trussville paid off its mortgage in 2021, the church doubled down on its missions focus — investing $1.2 million in local, national and global missions in 2022.
But as they planned for 2023, the CrossPoint missions team, led by Buck Poole, minister of senior adults and missions, had an idea they thought would help the missions program grow even more, a twist on the church’s annual missions expo.
Poole explained that CrossPoint typically begins the year by emphasizing missions opportunities through a missions expo, with booths set up around the church representing ministries and missions teams.
In that setup, church members can learn more about the various opportunities and sign up to participate.
But this year, CrossPoint brought the missionaries too.
“We brought 10 missions partners from eight different countries across five different continents here for four nights,” Poole said. “Our thought was to let our folks have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with these partners we pray for and talk about as a church, to meet them and their families, and to really make personal connections.”
The concept worked, he said.
Culturally themed meals
Each night for four nights, participants gathered for a culturally themed dinner that represented the evening’s focal country. The menus were not announced ahead of time, Poole said, “kind of like when you’re on a missions trip.”
After dinner, everyone gathered in the worship center for a brief time of worship and prayer. Missions partners and their families read Psalm 117 each night in their native language and prayed for those in attendance and the work in each location.
Then everyone broke out into “missions trips,” individual sessions led by missions partners.
“They could do whatever they wanted to do,” Poole said. “One is a street evangelist, and he uses art and paintings to share the gospel. Another showed how he does outreach in Ecuador. Others talked about their ministries in Thailand, India and Uganda.”
Children had a special area and missions activities too.
A prayer service on Wednesday night was especially meaningful, Poole said. About 400 participants spent time praying for the missions partners. The Holy Spirit’s presence was evident, Poole said.
“It was a powerful moment to culminate the week of bringing these missionaries to our people,” he said.
The overall result was a greater connection between missionaries and church members, Poole said. “The Lord worked through our missions partners,” he said, “and we saw the Lord stirring in people’s hearts for what he’s doing around the world.”
Poole recalled an encounter on the second night that captured the goal of the week.
A member came to him and said, “Missions has not ever been my thing, but my wife said we should come last night. I woke up this morning and I just couldn’t wait to get back tonight!”
The missionaries were grateful too.
“One of our missions partners from India came to me in tears and said, ‘I’ve felt burned out, and the Lord has used this week to do exactly what I needed.’”
Jenna Haynes, founder of Casa Gloria Children’s Home in Guatemala, said she appreciated the effort put into hosting her and others during the week.
“These are the people who walk alongside us spiritually each and every day, through the ups and the downs,” she said. “To literally get to come alongside them and get to know them, thank them and feel so much encouragement from them is refreshing and gives us a new confidence that when we go back to our countries and field of ministry, we are not alone.”
Hundreds expressed interest in getting more involved in missions this year, with nearly 200 saying they’d like to go on an international missions trip.
Three young people wanted to talk more about full-time missions and ministry service, Poole said.
“This was something only the Lord could orchestrate,” he added.
CrossPoint member Lloyd Wright agreed. Wright said that “prior to this missions expo, our missions partners were typewritten names on paper and pictures on the screen; now we are endeared to these people who serve in other countries. They are making a difference in difficult circumstances. Their natural voices have spoken to us in ways that videos can’t.”
Missions volunteers from CrossPoint are headed to Ecuador, Peru, Romania, Thailand, Guatemala, India, Quebec City and Atlanta this summer.
Jean-Philippe Beaudry, pastor of La Chapelle Church in Quebec City, who was in Birmingham in January, will welcome a team from CrossPoint in August. He said he values the partnership, which makes “a huge difference to us.”
Poole said encouraging members to pray, give and go remains the church’s focus.
“All believers are called to actively participate in the expansion of the Kingdom of God through making disciples of all nations,” Poole said. “Our job as the local church is to continually equip and encourage them to do so. Thanks be to God, I believe that our Expo accomplished that.”