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In Bogota, hope springs eternal

April 27th, 2010 at 4:24 pm

BOGOTA – First Baptist Church loves Bogota and every person in it. The congregation is in a campaign called “First loves Bogota,” which is an effort to share the hope of Christ with every person in the city.

On the day before Easter, First Baptist Church held a festival complete with free food, games for children, activities for adults, live music and an Easter egg hunt. Between 300 and 500 people came to the event, which included opportunities to share prayer requests and receive a free Bible.

The turnout astounded Tim Martin, the church’s youth minister.

“My first thought was ‘where are all these people coming from?’” he said. “Like I said before, we’re a town of about 1,300 people, but there are very few things that people come out for.”

Eugene Cox, a member of First Baptist Church who helped with the festival, said the entire community was excited by the festival and got involved in it.

“It just snowballed,” he said. “Everyone came together and got excited.”

The gathering is part of the congregation’s involvement in Texas Hope 2010, an initiative of Texas Baptists to share the gospel with every Texan by Easter 2010. It helped build on the momentum that began with church members visiting every home in the city, taking prayer requests and offering people Bibles.

The outreach efforts have been helped by a LifeCall Mission Grant through Texas Baptists. LifeCall grants are made possible by gifts through the Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions.

Through the festival and the outreach, church members have started new relationships and built on existing ones, creating avenues through which the gospel can be shared. Church members showed their friends, neighbors and co-workers that they cared about them.

“It gave people the opportunity to see we are trying to practice what we preach – to get out and meet the needs of people in the community,” he said. “We are here for them. We expect nothing in return.”

As a result, several new faces appeared on Easter Sunday that can be directly traced to the church’s outreach efforts.

“On Easter Sunday, we had a packed house,” Martin said. “We had I’d say five or six families who came as a direct result of what we did on Saturday.”

The guests’ appearance encouraged the congregation and helped members see the kingdom impact their efforts were having, Martin said.

“When we saw these faces … we were so excited they were giving us a chance,” he said. “They wanted to see if our church was everything we said it was in the weeks before. We saw that we weren’t just spinning our wheels, we were actually having an impact.”

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