The phrase “I Believe” takes on a double meaning in a Baptist faith outreach being conducted in conjunction with the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA playoff series.
Harry Black, executive director of the Capitol Baptist Association, said Baptists believe in the hope of Christ. And they believe in the Thunder.
“Baptists tend to look for any opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. We believe it is a good thing for a person's life,” he said.
“The Thunder in Oklahoma City is great news — we're in the finals and we believe they can go all the way to the finals and win the finals. We thought this was a great opportunity to combine good news in two ways.”
The “I Believe” outreach is a project of Capitol Baptist and the Union Baptist Association in partnership with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. The associations, affiliates of the convention, are made up of churches in the central Oklahoma area, including Norman.
Black and the Rev. Jimmy Kinnaird said the outreach will be similar to what Baptists have done at Super Bowl events and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Baptist volunteers take the opportunity provided by these popular events to share the gospel and hospitality at the same time.
“We're Thunder fans of course and of course we're fans of Jesus too,” Kinnaird, senior pastor of Village Baptist Church, said Thursday.
Kinnaird said he met with Tim Knopps, of Oklahoma City, and Black and the trio put together a plan for the playoff outreach, with Black as lead coordinator. Knopps, who describes himself as an event evangelist, has worked for many years to tie in evangelism efforts with big events.
Black said the outreach began recently when Baptist volunteers got a chance to place Thunder T-shirts on seats before a recent playoff game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Black said volunteers prayed for each person that would be sitting in the seat, for the Thunder players and the city.
Other outreach efforts include:
Black said church members will be distributing the brochures and other materials in Bricktown and to friends, family and co-workers when the Thunder comes up in conversations.
“They can put one of those in someone's hands and let the Holy Spirit take it from there,” he said.
The Rev. Dave Evans, senior pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Moore, said several men at his church are already planning to invite people to playoff watch parties. He said the church members will have the Sports Spectrum magazine and other material to present to guests as they enjoy the game.
“This will be an opportunity to build a bridge out in the community,” Evans said.
He said the outreach is another way to help others along in their faith journey, allowing Baptist volunteers to be part of a team that shares the gospel in a different venue.
“'I believe we're (Thunder) going to make it all the way and I believe in Christ,” Kinnaird said.
“We need hope and that's really what this is — a message of hope.”