EL PASO—During their spring breaks, volunteers from nine SBTC churches converged on El Paso to distribute evangelistic packets to 100,000 homes and a potential 400,000 people.
In addition to Bibles, tracts and information about local churches, the packets contained invitations to a city-wide strength demonstration and evangelistic rally April 20 at the El Paso Coliseum featuring Team Impact. The spring break campaign, March 11-22, was designed to complement ongoing church planting efforts in the El Paso area and included nine churches from outside El Paso. In years past, the SBTC has sponsored similar spring break efforts in Laredo, Corpus Christi and McAllen.
“New churches will be started as a result of this and established churches will be strengthened,” Barry Calhoun, SBTC missional ministries team leader, said of the spring break outreach. “I see those as the larger impacts this could have. The kingdom of God is advanced because we’re carrying the message of the gospel to those who don’t know him. And many different ethnic groups will hear it because we’re there.”
Though the outreach was intended mainly as a seed-sowing ministry, at least 14 people made first-time professions of faith in Christ as a result. Block parties and other evangelistic activities supplemented the packet distribution.
One salvation occurred as SBTC missions director Terry Coy distributed packets along a residential street. At most houses volunteers would simply hang a packet on the door handle without knocking. But at one house a man in his 70s was standing in front of the door, so Coy started a conversation.
When Coy asked how the man would respond if God asked why he should be let into heaven, the man listed some of his good works. So Coy presented the gospel and the man prayed to receive Christ. He even gave his full name and granted permission for a local pastor to contact him.
“I was sensing some sincerity in the conversation,” Coy said. “He wasn’t just being polite, trying to get rid of me, which sometimes happens.”
Another team encountered a woman who had prayed the night before for God to give her some evidence of his existence. Though she was not saved during the conversation, she asked the team to pray for her sick son and said they were a sign from God that he exists. She attended one of the participating Baptist churches the next Sunday.
Chuy Avila, an SBTC church planting missionary in El Paso, said the spring break outreach was desperately needed due to the large number of lost people in the city and too few gospel-preaching churches.
“We’ve been studying El Paso, and we’ve discovered that most of the Baptist churches are located to the northeast of the city,” Avila said. “And there are some places here in El Paso where there is no evangelical church. So we decided we will emphasize this area. So we visited some areas, and we got about 50 people that showed interest in a home Bible study.”
Avila said the work of spring break volunteers helped him identify several groups that are underserved by Christian ministries. He said he hoped to begin 20 or more Bible studies resulting from the outreach.
“I’m not emphasizing only Spanish-language church planting,” Avila said. “I’m going to emphasize any church planting because we discovered some ethnicities that nobody’s reaching in El Paso. So this effort helped open my eyes about the need among different ethnic groups in El Paso.”
Some of the greatest needs are among Chinese, Japanese and Korean people, he said. Avila asked that anyone interested in ministering to those groups contact him through the SBTC.
“We’re still trying to reach the 26 million people in Texas with the gospel,” Calhoun said. “And too few of them fully understand what the good news of Christ could mean in their lives.”