A day of work, an eternity of impact

Arlington International Church leads the way at one-day outreach resulting in profession of faith

Debbie Figueroa felt uncertain but ready. So the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary student, trained in evangelism methodology that morning, set off with two friends for a nearby park. 

Figueroa, a member of the International Baptist Church of Arlington and a native of El Salvador, saw people walking, running, and working out at the park: preoccupied and busy. “We thought they might not be willing to stop to talk to us,” she said.

But some paused to chat, including an Argentinian woman.

“She told us she was Catholic and agreed with everything we were sharing,” Figueroa recalled. When asked if she was 100 percent sure she was going to spend eternity with Jesus, the lady said yes, because she tried to be a “good person.”

“We shared the gospel again and explained that the Bible is clear in saying that we are all sinners and that even our righteous acts are ‘filthy rags,’” Figueroa said. When asked if the gospel made sense to her, the lady replied that it did. 

“We invited her to trust only in Jesus for salvation and follow Him as her only Lord and Savior, and she said she wanted to make that decision at that moment. So that day, in the middle of the trail, she repented of her sins and asked Jesus to save her. Then we welcomed her to God’s family, shared some Bible verses, and asked again if she was 100% sure about spending eternity with Jesus,” Figueroa said.

The lady’s answer was a resounding yes. “She said she was sure [of eternity] because she believed in Jesus as her Savior,” Figueroa said.

Figueroa and her friends led the woman to Christ just prior to the opening of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s Annual Meeting last November, when IBCA, a 55-member church, participated in an outreach event called Crossover SBTC.

Southwestern’s Carl Bradford (far right) trained the Crossover team in the 3 Circles method of evangelism before they set out to knock on doors and tell people about Jesus. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Twenty-two IBCA members participated in the event, with two more providing prayer support. Ten other people assisted IBCA, including members from Blueprint Community Church, an African culture church that rents meeting space from IBCA, and from an evangelistic organization called For the Kingdom. The group conducted face-to-face evangelism in central Arlington neighborhoods,
at Vandergriff Park, and on a college campus.

IBCA, an 11-year-old church, focuses on ministry to the community and to international students at nearby colleges and Southwestern Seminary, said Glenn Melvin, IBCA executive director. For the Kingdom has been partnering with IBCA in evangelism efforts this year, he added.

Before setting out in the morning, participants attended a training at IBCA presented by Carl Bradford, SBTC evangelism consultant and a professor at SWBTS. Bradford taught the group how to use the 3 Circles method of sharing the gospel. 

Figueroa praised the Crossover evangelism training as “very practical,” noting participants learned to share their testimonies as part of presenting the gospel. By the end of the day, when participants reassembled at the church to report all that God had done, there was much to celebrate.

Throughout the day, participants made 184 contacts and had 67 spiritual conversations with people, Melvin said, adding that such talks were defined as “any discussion on spiritual matters.” Of these, 41 turned into gospel conversations, with full presentations of the plan of salvation.

Melvin, who took part in SBC Crossover 2018 in Dallas, said IBCA has weekly evangelism every Saturday, “but Crossover SBTC was an opportunity to energize the entire church to reach the community. People need to know how to share the gospel because, for someone they know, they may be the only people who can share Jesus with that person,” he said.

“Reaching out to the community allows us to know our neighbors, lets them know us, tells them about Jesus, and lets our people practice sharing the gospel in situations less pressured than those with already established relationships,” he added. “Bottom line, as for SBTC Crossover 2023, someone came to Christ. We have a new sister in the Lord!”

Tony Mathews, SBTC senior strategist for Missional Ministries, said of IBCA and the inaugural Crossover SBTC event: “If one church can have that kind of impact, imagine what 1,000 could do.”

Looking for ways to better equip your church to carry the gospel into your community? The SBTC’s next Who’s Your One? Advancing the Movement training is coming to Houston this spring. 

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