January 28th, 2013 at 10:40 am
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – Texas Baptists’ Bible Study Team is stepping up to help fill a ministry gap by providing training sessions here that typically would have been provided directly by churches on mission trips.
A steep decline in mission teams serving along the Texas-Mexico border has led to a drastic drop in training conferences and opportunities for Baptists serving in Mexico border cities such as Ciudad Juarez.
On January 26, the team led its second training seminar. At the end of the summer, Texas Baptists’ Bible Study Team Director Phil Miller and Texas Baptists River Ministry Daniel Rangel led a seminar to help pastors. This last time, Miller recruited Sunday School specialists to lead conferences for workers with preschool, children, youth, adults and general leadership.
When Miller heard about the need for training seminars in Juarez, he sensed God’s call to respond and sought ways to work closer with River Ministry. People along the border need to hear the gospel much like they do across Texas. As a group, Texas Baptists have long worked hand-in-hand to help Mexico Baptist leaders spread the hope of Christ and need to continue that partnership.
“You can’t escape the fact that we’re neighbors with churches who are all along the border,” he said. “This is what we should do.”
The gratitude pastors expressed during the August training seminar confirmed Miller was following God’s call, he said.
“There was a lot of genuine excitement when I was there last time,” he said. “You feel like you’re doing the right thing when that happens.”
Training seminars such as these are made possible by gifts to missions through the Texas Baptist Cooperative Program, the primary giving channel for the convention. In 2012, the Bible study team provided 111 trainings across the state.
Rangel said Bible study seminars encourage leaders and strengthen churches in numerous ways. They will reach people and better disciple them as a result of what they learn.
“It’s a tremendous need because many of the pastors in Mexico have little formal training,” he said. “They do things in traditional ways like they were done when they grew up. Trainings like this give them new ideas.”
Miller understands not every church will or is called to send groups to Juarez. Every congregation must follow God’s leadership. But headlines about violence in Mexico border cities should not be the last word in whether or not a mission group goes; God’s Word should be. He hopes this training will open some church’s eyes to the mission possibilities in the area.
“Maybe something like this opens the door to people thinking we could do that,” he said.
For more information about River Ministry opportunities, visit www.texasbaptists.org/riverministry. The Bible Study Team travels across the state providing training opportunities tailored specifically to the needs of individual churches. To have one in your area or your church, call Phil Miller at 888-244-9400.
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