Ky. Baptist pastors try to reach tough groups at protest

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GRAYSON, Ky. (KT) – Josh Schmidt looks forward to the Sunday afternoon when he can do some door-to-door evangelism again.


But for now, said the pastor of First Baptist Church in Grayson, God has another assignment.


For the second straight week, Schmidt, youth pastor Cory Jones and pastoral intern candidate Darin Phillips were “being the church” as a Black Lives Matter protest and a lot of counter-protesters collided in the downtown streets of the small northeastern Kentucky city.


The three men were armed with the cold bottles of water and the gospel although Schmidt said few were interested in hearing about God’s goodness.


“I’m on this evangelism (Gospel to Every Home) team for the state (Kentucky Baptist Convention),” said Schmidt, who will be part of a KBC webinar on the subject on Thursday. “This seemed like a God thing. We can’t go to every door, but God has brought it to our streets. He opened the doors for us right here.


"If the church doesn’t have the answers to the brokenness in our society, no one does."


FBC Grayson was planning to restart Sunday evening services last week and then rescheduled it for Sunday. Both nights were cancelled because of the protest march.


“I can’t keep canceling church on Sunday nights,” he said. “It’s killing me.”


Schmidt said the church has returned to in-person Wednesday night services with good response.


At the protest, he said everybody was better behaved with Grayson city police maintaining a mostly peaceful atmosphere. There was scuffle where there had to be some separation after a BLM protester had a megaphone in the face of a counter-protester, he said. “That turned into a fight pretty quick. But the City did a really good job of separating people.”


Mostly, though, tempers were cool on the hot August afternoon, he said. But mostly were also cool to hearing about the gospel although they tried.


“I don’t think we had one opportunity but we’re trying our best,” he said.


If there are more protests in Grayson, they will be there, Schmidt said. “We’ll take our cold water and hit the streets.”


Phillips, 22, is a Grayson native and the event was “culture shock” for him, the pastor said. “It was an interesting first experience for him.”


Seeing a downtown full of gun-carrying counter-protesters was a little unsettling as was the language being tossed around. Sundays are usually a lot more sleepy in Grayson.


“They said it wasn’t as crazy as last week,” Phillips said. “I wanted to go and serve alongside my pastor and youth pastor of my church. I wanted to be able to serve both sides and if there’s an opportunity to share the gospel, I want to do that too.


“I’m really thankful that the leadership of my church desires to see this as a mission field instead of a burden.”

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