TRACY, Calif.—Eight years ago, when Pastor Timothy and Susan Heinrich moved to Tracy to start Crossroads Baptist Church, they were burdened for the children in their neighborhood. So on Easter weekend, they set up a little egg hunt in their backyard and invited the neighborhood.
“The kids brought their friends and waited outside our fence for over an hour before we were ready for them,” Susan says.
Tim and Susan shared the gospel using “Resurrection eggs” and were “shocked to find that these upper-middle-class children had no idea about the events of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.” The couple also gave away a few paperback Bibles to children through a drawing. “The kids who did not receive Bibles were terribly disappointed, so we went to the store and bought them all Bibles,” Susan says.
“They had every electronic toy available but no copy of God’s Word in their homes. We realized that we were on to something. So the next year we enlisted help from our sending church and moved the event to a local park.”
Over the years, the event has grown to an outreach that, at its peak, reached close to 2,000 people at one time with the gospel. “Unfortunately, the large-scale egg hunt got out of control. It is a shame that parents can’t behave themselves,” Susan says. “Kids were getting run over and people were leaving unhappy.”
So due to parking and crowd control issues, Crossroads Baptist scaled back the advertising for the event and this year reached about 300 people.
Sister churches send workers to help, and supporting churches across the U.S. donate funds and filled plastic eggs. Bible Baptist Church, Newark, Ohio, sent cases of New Testaments to distribute. Litchfield (Ohio) Baptist Church and New Harmony Baptist Church, Caldwell, Ohio, sent eggs. And Fairway Park Baptist, Hayward, Calif., and Sovereign Grace Baptist, Modesto, Calif., helped run booths and other activities.
Susan says, “Everyone from Crossroads participates in some way, preparing eggs and goodie bags, donating baskets to be raffled, setting up, running booths, etc. But we are not a large enough church to do this ourselves. It truly does take a fellowship!”
After registering, kids receive goodie bags filled with plastic eggs, a coupon for a free meal at a restaurant, a tract, and information about the church and Vacation Bible School. The church uses the registration information to compile a database for follow-up.
When families register, they are also entered in a drawing for bikes that are donated by the local firefighters association. The firefighters even bring their fire engine and let the kids climb on it.
The event includes a small toddler egg-hunt area, several carnival style games, a sports area, and a booth promoting VBS. A missionary with Child Evangelism Fellowship and others paint children’s faces and nails using the Wordless Book colors. Those colors are featured again in another booth: the middle schoolers from Crossroads planned their own booth this year, ordering bands and making Rainbow Loom bracelets with the Wordless Book colors.
An exciting addition this year was help from a Baptist Church Planters Hispanic church plant in Hayward, Calif. Iglesia Biblical Bautista la Roca translated for the many Spanish-speaking parents who brought their children. Deaf Baptist Church in Fremont was also on hand to translate into American Sign Language.
Everyone who attended enjoyed a free hot dog, chips, and drink while watching a stage show that creatively presented the gospel. “Next year, a friend has promised to bring their taco truck!” Susan says. Through the years attendees have seen the gospel presented through magic, martial arts, music, and science experiments.
“The results from this outreach have been slow, but significant,” Susan says. “The goal is that everyone coming through the doors will hear the gospel in at least six different ways that evening. We have seen many families through Crossroads that were first introduced to our church through this outreach. The family that won the bike two years ago currently attends Joy Club on Wednesday nights, and the mom is active in the Bible study. At the end of Vacation Bible School each year we hand out a survey, and almost everyone who did not come with a friend from Crossroads checks that they heard about VBS through the Easter Outreach. After coming to that event, they want to come back for more. They proudly arrive carrying the Bibles that they received at Easter.
“Attending Crossroads on Easter Sunday this year were our Muslim and (formerly) Mormon neighbors who were at the event on Friday night.
“God’s Word is powerful, and we are thankful for the many in our sister churches who help us reach our community through this popular neighborhood event.”