May 25th, 2010 at 12:00 pm
LUBBOCK – Mariachi band music and the smell of fresh grilled fajitas floated through the air as 13 Lubbock area churches hosted Cinco on 50th, an outreach event geared towards celebrating Hispanic culture and sharing the hope of Christ with the community during Cinco de Mayo.
Hispanic churches from Lubbock, Crosbyton, Lockney, Plainview, Floydada, Levelland and New Home joined with Texas Baptists and the Lubbock Area Baptist Association to gather their resources and host the festivity, in hopes that they could share the hope of Christ with more people in the city.The event was made possible by the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger and support from the Lubbock area Hispanic Baptist churches.
More than 1,000 people came to the event held at Iglesia Bautista Templo in Lubbock that gave away more than 500 pounds of fajitas complete with beans, rice and tortillas.
“We were casting the vision of giving back to our community,” said Edward Sena, Lubbock Area Baptist Association director of church services and starts. “We were reaching out to the 79412 zip code, which is where Iglesia Bautista Templo is located, and we wanted to reach out to the Hispanic community.”
A week before the event, several churches gathered to go door-to-door in the neighborhood surrounding the church to hand out fliers about the event and invite people to come participate.
The event kicked off with a fajita grilling contest where 17 teams from different churches put forth their best grilling effort to win the competition. The cooked fajitas were then given to those attending the event.
“The goal with the cook off where the churches were going to be bringing their grillers is that they would encourage anyone they knew that was lost -family members and co-workers-to come,” said Salvador Trevino, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Templo. “We had some grillers that weren’t Christians. [They came because] they knew church members and loved to grill.”
After the competition and dinner, everyone was invited to come inside the church for a celebration service. Grupo Agape, a mariachi band from San Antonio, led worship while Roland Lopez, Hispanic church planting consultant with the San Antonio Baptist Association, shared a message of how Christ can change lives.
Through the message and outreach effort, 22 people began relationships with Christ during the service while another 25 said they want to be more committed in living their lives to honor Christ.
“What I saw through the event was not only those people who came to know Christ but also I saw a community come to recognize that there is a church here,” Trevino said. “They don’t just see the building itself, but they were exposed to the church and exposed the community to see that there is something going on here.”
As the churches worked together to minister to the community, Jesse Rincones, pastor of Alliance Church, said he was glad the members are seeing that holidays can be an immense opportunity to engage people with the gospel.
“I’m glad that our churches are beginning to look at existing events and existing holidays, existing opportunities that we can jump in and do ministry rather than thinking we have to create our own week of revivals for the Hispanic fellowships but discovering what the community is already doing, what is already brining them together,” Rincones said. “When there are community celebrations, the church should be there too, so that the church is viewed as people who are participating with the community and not a group that has their own events expecting people to come to us. This is a way to take our Christian message and values in to those community celebrations and events.”
Not only were people in the community touched by the event, the bond between the participating churches grew stronger, helping volunteers see what is possible when they work together in sharing the gospel.
“It brought unity,” Sena said. “It brought churches together to work together. I think it brought excitement simply because of the decisions they saw made.”
Plans are being formed to host a citywide Cinco de Mayo outreach in 2011 as well as to help the other Hispanic Baptist churches in the South Plains to initiate such events in their communities.
“I think it is time that our churches get rid of the mentality from the community of the lost people that we are takers and that we just want something from them,” Sena said. “But rather, [be seen as] churches that engage our communities culturally and ethnically to meet the needs of the people whether it be through a cultural experience or through something else but to have the bottom line of sharing the gospel.”
Events like Cinco on 50th are avenues to notice the needs in the community and to begin to do more to help others, Trevino said.
“I hope we can lead the church to host more events,” Trevino said. “But not only that — I want people to be able to come into our church and find services and help with their needs…. I believe it is showing our people that it is going to take work to reach others. They are not going to just come through the doors. It is showing our people that we have to work at this.”
In order for the Hispanic churches to grow the influence they have on the community, Rincones said that the pastors must first work together, then lead their congregations to do the same.
“I think there has to be an organized effort first of all, and organized collaboration between the pastors,” Rincones said. “If we as pastors could begin to look at ourselves as co-pastors in the city rather than individual pastors, that would give us a broader sense of the city. Then we need to begin to focus our efforts.”