SBC 2006 – Texans share gospel in North Carolina Hispanic community

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.–Pastor David Galvan of Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida in the Dallas suburb of Garland noticed people were not showing up early on June 10 for the Southside Baptist Church block party as a part of Southern Baptists’ annual pre-convention evangelistic effort, this year called Crossover Triad.

So he decided to strike out on his own and do some door knocking in the Winston-Salem neighborhood, leaving his wife to interact with people as they arrived in the older neighborhood where the church that once drew 700 to 800 people had declined to a congregation of 40.

One by one, Elvia Galvan approached Spanish-speaking adults walking onto the church lawn where bounce houses and homemade carnival games attracted youngsters. It had been several years since the Galvans had been able to travel early enough to the host convention city to participate in Crossover, but they determined this year would be different.

Leaving Garland on Thursday before the SBC annual meeting, they made the 1,093-mile trip in two days in order to volunteer at the Saturday morning event. Elvia Galvan said she was thrilled to hear of a young girl’s recent decision to follow Christ as she talked with the youngster.

“She didn’t have a Bible so I showed her how to start reading and feed her soul with the Word of God.” Afterward, she sought out the girl’s two brothers to ask them about their relationship with Christ.

“I tried to share Christ in the neighborhood, but wasn’t that successful,” David Galvan said of his house-by-house efforts. However, he was able to talk to three families who came to the block party.

Once back at the block party, Galvan said he had a “beautiful witness” with a man named Luis who was originally from Mexico. “He was there with his wife and children. I started sharing Christ with him and he told me he was Roman Catholic–that was his defense,” Galvan said.

When Galvan asked if the man attended church, Luis said only when they venerate–a special Roman Catholic service. Galvan’s thoughts turned to his own father, whose Roman Catholic upbringing seemed similar to Luis’s. So Galvan began to share his father’s story with Luis.

The Texas pastor explained that his father had been a worker in the border towns. He was also a Roman Catholic, and attended the veneration ceremonies honoring Catholic saints.

“But one day,” Galvan said, “Someone gave him a Bible and he found the Lord Jesus.”

Galvan realized that Luis needed some Bible knowledge. First sharing from Genesis, he told Luis, “A lot of people believe they are a son of God because Adam was a son of God. But look what happened in Genesis 3.”

As they sat under a tree in the field at the block party, Galvan shared how Adam and Eve chose to disobey God by eating of the tree God had forbidden. He explained Romans 5:12 to relate that by one man, Adam, sin and death entered the world. Then Galvan shared John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

Galvan exclaimed, “That man prayed to receive Christ!”

Southside Baptist interim pastor Max Furr accepted the responsibility a few months ago, having offered to give time during his retirement from 35 years as a Southern Baptist missionary serving Peru, Honduras, and briefly at the El Paso-based Baptist Spanish Publishing House.

“There’s nothing interim or part time about it,” Furr told the TEXAN, describing an effective strategy of attracting neighborhood children to weeknight sessions for tutoring, crafts, supper and Bible stories. He preaches in English to residents from the transitional community, but Bible study and English as a Second Language classes are available for adults while kids enjoy the Monday and Thursday events.

Five years ago Violet Smith began driving 15 miles from a neighboring county to help with what is called the F.R.O.G. ministry (named fro fully rely on God).   More than 100 kids attend weekly with 35 workers drawn from seven area churches representing five denominations.

“They were willing to reach out in the community and that drew us,” Smith said. “We have a heart for missions and this church has a mission field in their own backyard.” About 75 percent of the community is Hispanic, a language many of the Anglo members are fluent in speaking.

The associate pastor of the Garland church, Benny Gonzales, was also present at the block party, along with his wife, Rachel, and they found many opportunities to present the gospel, they said.

“I was overwhelmed at how many Hispanics are in North Carolina,” Benny Gonzales said. “My wife and I got to share with some people. I shared with the husband. He didn’t accept the Lord, but his wife did.”

Rachel Gonzales had seen the couple sitting under a tree, and she struck up a conversation with the woman—Maria. “She was in need of someone to talk to. She was just sad.”

First sharing that Jesus knows how each person feels and how he can help, Rachel then turned to the witnessing outline from scriptures known as the Roman Road. Maria also asked Christ into her life that day.

Rachel took Maria’s information to pass on to the church for follow-up, and Maria asked, “Could you make a copy of that so you could call and talk to me sometimes?”

Rachel said, “It was a neat experience for me—one of those divine appointments. It’s always a blessing to see someone come to the Lord. Sometimes we get so busy at home. This is always a refresher and the Lord is willing to use you if you’re available.”

The two Texas couples plan to participate in Crossover next year when Texas hosts the annual convention meeting.

“It’s definitely going to be a good experience to be a part of Crossover San Antonio—it’s a terrific town,” David Glavan said. “There are going to be so many opportunities to share Christ. There is a lot of activity on the River Walk. There is a lot of the Mexican culture, a lot of places in the plaza settings where people go and congregate. And many churches—you’ll obviously have a lot of contacts and access door-to-door.”

Next year’s outreach will involve associations in the San Antonio area in cooperation with the North American Mission Board. As the 2007 SBC approaches, visit sbtexas.com for Crossover San Antonio information.

 

Kay Adkins and Tammi Ledbetter
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