Criswell College students spread gospel in Brownsville area

BROWNSVILLE?For the third consecutive year, Criswell College sent students to the border town of Brownsville to prayer-walk, witness, distribute tracts, and help the city’s First Baptist Church in a weeklong Vacation Bible School, held July 13-18.

The 11-student team shared the gospel on the street more than 300 times, and their efforts during the VBS helped bring 27 children to faith in Christ from the 243 enrolled.

“We were encouraged to know that the students and members of the school’s administration and the alumni association were praying for us even before the team arrived,” said FBC Brownsville Pastor Steve Dorman.

“As a pastor I can tell you that it helps for our church to have a face-to-face relationship with a school that we and our state convention [SBTC] support. Our people can see where their money is going, and that it helps fund a biblically conservative institution,” Dorman added.

The students’ street ministry garnered the attention of the local newspaper, earning them front-page coverage July 15 in a Brownsville Herald article titled: “Spreading the word: Bible students come to Brownsville for missionary work.”

Criswell College senior Halston Potts shared the gospel with the newspaper’s reporter and photographer, both of whom said they were Catholic.

“They had to listen to me,” Potts said. “I had their attention for as long as I wanted because they were doing their jobs.”

Potts said the photographer actually carried the conversation.

“I could see the Lord was dealing with him.”

The photographer continued asking questions about conversion and salvation, Potts said.

The TEXAN asked Potts if he knew how many people accepted Christ through street witnessing, and he said he didn’t know.

“I’m not really into keeping track of those numbers. I’m more interested in planting gospel seeds,” said
Potts, who believes he is called by God to mission work.

Potts explained that if anyone expressed interest in the tracts’ content, or if he sensed God leading him to press gospel claims to their hearts, then he’d do that.

“I think the trip will greatly improve my witness to other people, mainly Hispanics,” Potts said. “I can identify with that culture a bit better and can now be a better witness to Hispanics.”

Led by Baltazar Alvarez, assistant professor of biblical and theological studies at the college, team members also completed a missions practicum as part of their collegiate studies.

Alvarez said the trip held a four-fold emphasis: evangelism, missions, and sociological and cultural education.

“The entire city was our missions laboratory,” said Alvarez, who noted that students would also write an academic paper regarding the trip.

“While it’s nice to see the lights go on in students’ eyes in the classroom, it’s even better in this open, live lab that is Brownsville,” he said, adding that Brownsville, whose populace is about 98 percent Hispanic, provides students a valuable cross-cultural missions experience.

Dorman said the missions endeavor “helps us understand where and how we can best reach our own Jerusalem.”

“We hope they come back every year, and bring more and more students,” Dorman said. “They’re such a huge blessing to our church.”

Potts is of a similar mindset: “I have a sense the trip won’t be my last to Brownsville. I think God will send me back there to help in some way.”

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