October 29th, 2012 at 7:57 am
KINGSVILLE – In the corner of a field filled with jubilant children and loudly-colored inflatable bounce houses, Noe Trevino quietly takes a knee next to a moving trailer and a young boy. Quietly, they visit, and the child makes a decision that will echo into eternity: He professes Christ as Lord for the first time.
That moment sums up the reason for City Reach, an evangelistic emphasis sponsored and encouraged by Texas Baptists leading up to the convention’s annual meeting.
“We do this to be the presence of Christ, to show them Christ’s love, to show them the living hope that we have in Christ Jesus,” said Trevino, one of Texas Baptists’ church starters and pastor of Coastal Bend Fellowship in Kingsville.
In the last several weeks, churches across the region have given away backpacks full of school supplies, hosted a back-to-school bash, spent time in prisons, held revivals and welcomed the community for a block party. The events brought neighbors together, comforted offenders and provided practical help for those who needed it.
Each of those initiatives is important on their own, but organizers say focusing on the actions alone misses the reason the churches did them – to share the gospel. The events are tools to create opportunities to share the hope of Christ.
At each of the events, the gospel was shared. Sixteen people made decisions for Christ at Coastal Bend Fellowship’s school supply distribution. Twenty-nine people came to Christ through the revival. Another seven people committed to following Christ during the Coastal Bend Fellowship block party. Nearly 700 professions for faith and more than 500 rededications were made during a prison ministry weekend through a partnership with Bill Glass Champions for Life.
Through all the events, nearly 1,400 people committed to following Christ or rededicated their lives to following Him.
To accomplish such varied and widespread evangelism efforts, Texas Baptists partnered with the three Hispanic fellowships in the region, Coastal Bend Baptist Association, Corpus Christi Baptist Association and local churches.
“It’s our responsibility and our privilege to share Christ,” said Frank Palos, Texas Baptists’ director of Hispanic evangelism who partnered with and encouraged Hispanic congregations involved in City Reach. “It’s still our assignment to go to them rather than them come to us.”
Such an emphasis on evangelism brings joy to God’s heart, Trevino said.
“People are hungry,” he said. “They are hungry for more than what they have in their lives. They’re hungry for hope. They’re hungry for truth.”
Anson Nash, executive director of the Corpus Christi Baptist Association, saw that hunger first hand as he ministered in a prison for the first time. Inmates were craving the gospel. They were eager to hear it. He met men serving long sentences who were spreading the gospel throughout the unit.
“I personally was able to pray the sinner’s prayer with six inmates,” he said. “The thing that surprised me more than anything was God is already opening doors in the prisons.”
Scott Willingham, director of Texas Baptists’ Evangelism Team, said City Reach empowered area Baptists to practice the principles they learned earlier this year in a Corpus Christi Engage evangelism conference sponsored by the convention.
Willingham praised the region’s Baptists for their commitment to sharing Christ. He prays the evangelism training that has taken place and the block party trailer the convention has donated to the Corpus Christi Baptist Association help believers carry the gospel throughout their communities for years to come. Past City Reach efforts have had similar impacts.
“The groundwork we did two years ago in Valley Reach, still carries on,” Willingham said. “This year, we’re taking missions in this area, evangelism in this area, and we’re helping them take it to the next level.”
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