Laredo effort yields early fruit

LAREDO?The first week of a two-week mission effort by church groups resulted in more than 70 percent of Laredo’s households receiving a gospel witness in written form and at least 100 professions of faith from block parties and outdoor revival services.

“We had a really good response,” Chuy Avila, SBTC church planting missionary, said on March 22. “We had revivals in 15 city parks and block parties in five different neighborhoods through the week. It was neat to see how the Lord worked in our community.”

Eleven out-of-town church groups?one from as far away as Borger in the Panhandle? and four from Laredo joined to distribute information packets to 35,000 of Laredo’s 50,000 households. The effort involved 252 volunteers, Avila said. Each packet contained a gospel presentation in Spanish and English, along with tickets to an April 17 event at the Laredo Energy Arena featuring Team Impact, a strength demonstration group that ends each performance with a gospel invitation.

Avila is praying for five new churches resulting from the evangelistic fruit of the next month, he said.

“My expectation was that we’d be able to hit 30,000 households the first week; we did 35,000. We still have some local churches who are willing to take the lead for the remaining 15,000 homes.”

Some of the churches that brought groups to Laredo included First Baptist Borger, First Baptist Farmersville, North Garland Baptist Fellowship in Garland, Great Hills Baptist in Austin, and Church at the Cross in Grapevine.

College student Jessica James of FBC Farmersville was one of about 25 people from the Collin County church that made the spring break trip. They ranged in age from 4 to 69.

“Our family was going,” James explained. “It’s just something I felt like I needed to do.”

“It’s a family mission trip,” explained Courtney Aston, wife of missions pastor Matthew Aston. “All sorts of families came.”

Gunther Getting, a high school senior, gave up his spring break to travel the 12 hours from Borger with his church group to canvas neighborhoods and entertain children at nightly block parties like the one he was working in El Cenizo, a small community just outside of Laredo.

Getting said he has been to Mexico on previous spring breaks, but this year the church decided to help with the Laredo effort. They rose early each day to leave door hangers in area neighborhoods and invite people to block parties.

“Hopefully,” Getting said looking around at a gathering of children, “they start coming to church and get saved.”

Meanwhile, the folks back home were praying for the group while they were there, Getting said.

“We just pray for God to work in us and through us while we are here,” he added.

Another FBC Borger member, Layne Rusten, a Texas Tech University student, was on her fifth consecutive spring break mission trip.

“These people just truly love you and want to hear what you have to say, most of the time,” Rusten said. “Being able to minister to them in the smallest ways?painting somebody’s face or giving them popcorn or nachos or playing games with them and talking to them about your relationship with Christ?they care and they want to know what you have to say, and I think that’s so neat. I’m so blessed to be able to be used by God in the simple ways.”

In addition to an anticipated five new congregations being birthed after April’s evangelistic events conclude, churches such as Iglesia Bautista Nuevo Desafio, a year-old congregation of about 30 people, will be following up with new converts who live in their area of the city. With only 2 percent of Laredo residents identifiably evangelical, there are plenty of spiritual fish for everyone, pastor Marco Valdez said.

“As we are working together, everybody remembers we are working for the King. Nobody is working for themselves,” Valdez said.

Iglesia Bautista Nuevo Desafio is helping a sister church begin work in the nearby town of Rio Bravo. Their efforts outside their walls include three soccer camps planned in different areas of Laredo this spring and summer.

“We are working hard,” Valdez said. “We are a small church and everybody is working hard.

“We need to make a better effort to impact Laredo for the gospel. The advantage here is we have no earthquakes, no tsunamis, no tornadoes. No excuse to make a huge impact.”

SBTC Missions Director Terry Coy said the effort of participating churches would yield fruit for months to come.

“God blessed the efforts of SBTC churches working in Laredo,” Coy said. “A heartfelt thank you to the churches who walked the streets and worked the events in Laredo. We expect even greater fruit?new believers, transformed lives, and church plants?after the upcoming Team Impact event and following a summer full of churches on mission trips in the city.”

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