A single hand rises above a sea of bowed heads covering the outdoor basketball court in San Miguel, El Salvador. An older man makes his way through the narrow row of plastic lawn chairs to place his hand on Alexander Efrain's shoulder. Together, the two walk to a set of cement bleachers where Efrain recommits […]
SAN MIGUEL, El Salvador (BP)--A single hand rises above a sea of bowed heads covering the outdoor basketball court in San Miguel, El Salvador. An older man makes his way through the narrow row of plastic lawn chairs to place his hand on Alexander Efrain's shoulder. Together, the two walk to a set of cement bleachers where Efrain recommits his life to Christ. Although he became a believer at age 14, Efrain says he felt the Lord calling him to recommit his life during the evening rally of the San Miguel Encouragement Conference, the first element of a new Southern Baptist initiative designed to forge relationships with other conservative evangelicals around the world. In El Salvador, Southern Baptist pastors and leaders from the United States joined Salvadoran pastors and church leaders for the purpose of building mutually beneficial relationships across geographic bounds. "We've come not simply to tell you what we know," Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, told a group of Salvadoran pastors and their wives in San Salvador. "We've come to learn from you ... and hopefully we'll have a greater determination than ever to reach the world for Christ." When Southern Baptist pastors and members of the SBC Executive Committee arrived in El Salvador on Feb. 2, their goal was not to lead the conferences but rather serve as catalytic participants who would encourage and equip Salvadoran pastors and teachers. "We come as ... joint-venture connectors," said Bobby Welch, a former SBC president and the Executive Committee's global evangelical relations strategist.
SAN MIGUEL, El Salvador (BP)--Milton Segura scans the horizon. From where he sits in the back of the passenger van, the view is familiar. Up until six months ago, Segura traveled the same stretch of the Panamerican Highway every week ...
SAN MIGUEL, El Salvador (BP)--Julio Contreras will never forget the odor of burning bodies.
This year's Week of Prayer for International Missions, November 30 through December 7, focuses on missionaries who serve in South America as well as churches partnering with them, exemplifying the global outreach supported by Southern Baptists' gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This year's theme is "GO TELL the story of Jesus," and the […]
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (BP)--International Mission Board missionary Eric Reese taps on the interior ceiling light, illuminating the cab of his Chevy pickup. Reese doesn't need to see inside his vehicle. But after six years of working with the urban poor in the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he knows those outside the cab need to see in. Eric slows the truck to a stop. A man steps toward the open driver-side window and cocks an AK-47. "Calma, calma," Eric says. "We just finished an evangelistic presentation. We're just leaving." When the traficante (drug dealer) steps away from the window and waves him on, Eric, 42, puts the truck in gear and moves. It's 9:20 p.m. With his truck windows open, Eric can't mistake the sound of gunshots echoing through the favela as he heads home to his wife Ramona and their two children. With frequent shootouts, prostitution and drug trafficking in the streets, the slums are no place for children. But Eric came this evening with the sole purpose of sharing the Gospel with the kids there. "If you can reach those kids," he says, "you can change that neighborhood." It won't be until 1 a.m. that Eric receives a phone call, identifying the shots he heard as those of a drug dealer protecting his turf. Sitting at his computer in the wee hours, Eric will read the latest headlines about a shootout that began with the distant shots he heard earlier. "I believe that God honored our presence here," says Eric, who is from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. "If God can open the water of the Red Sea and say, 'My people pass through,' God can say, 'Y'all will not fight now.' I think the grace of God said, 'Calma.' I believe that." Eric's work for the day is done, but his work in the slum communities of Rio de Janeiro is far from finished. "In these communities, it's an ugly evil you've got to deal with," he says, "but you've just got to deal with it. We can't stand here and just let these people shoot and kill each other without the Gospel being preached." Seeing past the violence and corruption of life in the favelas is an ongoing challenge. But the same self-destruction that hinders some from coming to Christ is precisely what compels the Reeses to share in earnest. "Communicating the Gospel with these folks cannot wait until tomorrow," Eric says. "You've got to share it with them today because you don't know what their tomorrow holds."
SAN JOSE DE QUERO, Peru (BP)--Just outside the door of a local tienda (store) in San Jose de Quero, Peru, 64-year-old missionary Larry Jackson stands in the sunlight, shaking hands with an influential leader.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This year’s Week of Prayer for International Missions, Nov. 30-Dec. 7, focuses on missionaries who serve in South America as well as churches partnering with them, exemplifying the global outreach supported by Southern Baptists’ gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This year’s theme is “GO TELL the story of Jesus”; the national […]
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of articles to be released in advance of this year’s Week of Prayer for International Missions, Nov. 30-Dec. 7. Missionaries who serve in South America as well as churches partnering with them are the week’s focus, exemplifying the global outreach supported by Southern Baptists’ gifts to the […]
MEXICO CITY (BP)--Israel leans back against a cast-iron gate on the streets of Mexico City's Tepito barrio. With arms crossed in front of his chest and head bowed in prayer, he shifts his weight, then wipes a tear from his eye. Mauricio Rojas knows the feeling. He was once in Israel's shoes. The drug addictions that enslave Israel once trapped Mauricio. Standing at Israel's side, Mauricio gives the young man his address and tells him to stop by whenever he wants. "Christ can do anything," Mauricio says. "He got me out of the trash, and He can do the same for you." In Mexico City, a city of 28 million, Israel is one of countless young people battling drugs in a barrio with rampant drug trafficking, prostitution and a thriving black market. The presence of evil-spirit worship and animistic cults makes the darkness of barrios such as Tepito seem oppressive. While other missionaries concentrate on areas outside the city proper, William and Orpha Ortega are the only International Mission Board missionaries among an estimated 9 million people living in Mexico City's inner city. The task before them and believers like Mauricio is great. With five inner-city missionary opportunities available in Mexico City alone, Tom Benson*, a regional strategy associate for the IMB, estimates 20 job requests have yet to be filled in urban centers across the country. "We have to go where the people are," Tom says. "We have entire hidden cities within cities that are yet to have a serious Gospel witness." For the Ortegas, the spiritual darkness of Tepito can be overwhelming, but it's also the primary reason they chose to serve here.