PHOENIX (BP)–Hispanics celebrated the 524 professions of faith from the Crossover 2011 evangelistic outreach during a June 12 gathering at Central High School in Phoenix.
The event, sponsored by the North American Mission Board, drew about 600 Hispanics, mostly from the local area but also from other states.
Steve Bass, NAMB’s newly appointed West Region vice president and former Arizona Southern Baptist Convention state missionary, addressed the gathering, held in conjunction with the 2011 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.
“My dream and desire,” Bass said, “would be that Southern Baptists should catch a passion to support Hispanic work … that we put our best in Hispanic work” — for example, Hispanic churches achieving the type of growth to build their own facilities rather than using “hand-me down” buildings donated by Anglo congregations.
Jimmy Madrid, president of the Compañerismo Central Iglesias Bautistas (CCIB/Central Fellowship of Baptist Churches) presented a plaque to Bass, lauding him as “someone that not only loves God, not only loves God’s work, but he also loves Hispanics.” Madrid, speaking on behalf of local pastors, said he is glad Bass will be NAMB’s vice president for the West but lamented the fact Bass will be missed by Arizona’s Hispanics.
Bass chose Acts 14:21-23 as the biblical foundation for his message, challenging the Hispanic audience not to stop at this historic point to celebrate SBC initiatives toward expanding ethnic involvement, but rather “it is now time to finish this job.”
Just like the Apostle Paul on his first missionary journey, Bass noted that the goal for believers today is to “evangelize and disciple, and then you organize.” He pointed out that “we hear a lot today … about church planting and planting new churches and I think sometimes we get the order reversed.”
“Sometimes we will go out and get a leader, and then we will find a piece of property and look for a building, and we will look for a leadership team. And then we expect them to go out and make contacts and bring people in to their church,” Bass explained.
“But if you look at this passage, Paul did it just the reverse of that,” Bass noted of this instance in Scripture. “Paul got a burden for a city first and went in and evangelized first. And then he went back and returned to disciple them. There is no building, there is no professional clergy and there is no pulpit, not yet. Only the Gospel and maturing believers, and then what he does is that he starts organizing the leaders to form the new church.”
Church growth is “not a matter of money, but a matter of evangelism and discipleship,” Bass said. He concluded by emphasizing that “a missionary evangelizes, disciples and organizes in order to evangelize, and disciple, and organize.”
Fernando Amaro, the Arizona convention’s Hispanic ministry facilitator, was happy with the week of Crossover 2011 activities involving both local Hispanic Baptists and volunteers who came from as far as Florida to help. Amaro credited God for the success, “whose presence was evident from the beginning of this work.”
“God forced me to understand that prayer was absolutely indispensable,” Amaro said. The pastors met for prayer and, without any vote, four leaders were chosen for the Crossover outreach among Hispanics: Jose Moreno, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Emanuel, as coordinator of Operation Andrew; Enrique Borja, pastor of Tempe Christian Church, as prayer coordinator; Marcos Gonzalez, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Fuente de Vida, as volunteer coordinator; and Heriberto Osobampo, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana, as evangelism and materials coordinator.
Amaro joyfully reported the results of the months of preparation, evangelization and community awareness and service events. Fourteen of 23 local Hispanic churches participated; 15 local block parties were held; 1,947 people filled out contact cards at the fiestas; 524 professions of faith were reported; 67 requests were made to be contacted by a church; and 50 decisions for rededication were made.
The event closed with a challenge from Joshua del Risco, NAMB Hispanic evangelism coordinator, who urged participants to continue the evangelistic fiesta in New Orleans at the 2012 SBC annual meeting. He prayed God would “mobilize the people in New Orleans just like it happened in Phoenix: in prayer, in unity and in evangelistic fervor and success.”
David Raúl Lema Jr. is a Baptist Press correspondent based in Miami.