ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–More than 1,000 Hispanics gathered June 13 at the First Baptist Church in Kissimmee, Fla., to fellowship and celebrate more than 300 professions of faith recorded during the Hispanic elements of Crossover 2010 evangelistic outreach in the Orlando area.
“The success of the Crossover 2010 Hispanic activities was marvelous and the best we have seen in several years,” said Joshua Del Risco, Hispanic and multi-ethnic evangelism coordinator for the North American Mission Board.
With much applause from the crowd, Del Risco reported “217 professions of faith were reported as resulting from the crusades and 103 professions of faith resulted from the Festival Para Toda la Familia, for a sum total of 309 professions of faith and 114 rededications.” He thanked the 400-plus volunteers who made it all possible and the pastors and leaders from local churches who raised a special offering to support the work of the local Hispanic Fellowship of the Greater Orlando Baptist Association.
Hispanic participants in Crossover represented 19 local churches, as well as members of churches from across the United States who came to participate in the Southern Baptist Convention activities.
Under the theme “Live with Urgency: Share God’s Transforming Power,” based on Romans 1:16, several speakers shared messages from God’s Word with the crowd.
The keynote speaker for the event was Rene Pereira, longtime pastor of the 2,500-member Glenview Baptist Church in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Pereira told the assembly that “God has a specific, and not an improvised, design for His people.”
Pereira, who at one time was professor of biology at a Catholic university in Puerto Rico, spoke from Ephesians 2:8-10 about how God prepares and disciplines His people. “Failure and discipline mark a good time to get ready for revival if we understand God’s work,” Pereira noted.
Richard Harris, interim president of the North American Mission Board, told the crowd he was grateful they had come “to celebrate and discover new ways to engage over 45 million Hispanics in North America.” Harris’ message — “Facing the Future by Faith or Fear?” — was based on Joshua 14:6-13.
“Due to the unbelief of 10 spies sent to the Promised Land, maybe 2 to 5 million people died in the desert as a result of their fears,” Harris said. “Fear, not faith, changed the course of history; let us leave here today and say that faith will win the day.”
Ken Weathersby, NAMB vice president for church planting, also challenged the crowd by providing a brief analysis of the current sociological statistics pertaining to Hispanics and what they mean for evangelism and church planting for all Southern Baptists.
“North America is the world’s third-largest mission field,” Weathersby said. “It is a mission field of many cultures with their unique worldviews, languages and customs.” To reach this mission field, he added, “requires that we use strategic cross-cultural thinking.”
After the worship service, the celebration continued in First Baptist’s fellowship hall with diverse foods from Cuba, Columbia, Spain, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Argentina and other countries, stimulating conversation and fellowship.
“This event has been a success on all levels,” said Frank Moreno, director of the Florida Baptist Convention’s language missions division. “This event is the perfect example of the extraordinary work of the local pastors, with the coordination and support of NAMB, the backing of the Florida Baptist Convention and other agencies, to show that we are all one in Christ.”
The event, which was sponsored by the North American Mission Board, also was supported by the International Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, Guidestone Financial Resources, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Florida Baptist Convention, Editorial Mundo Hispano and other local entities.
David Raul Lema Jr. is a Baptist Press correspondent based in Miami.