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Mexican-born missionary finds farm workers ready for gospel

PARIS, Tenn. (BP)–Numerous Hispanics at work on local farms prompted director of missions Bill Smith to make plans for a different kind of World Missions Conference.
Beyond asking missionaries to share about their work with churches in Tennessee’s Western District Baptist Association, Smith also contacted the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Ga., about the possibility of having at least one missionary come who could speak Spanish.
Jesus “Chuy” Avila, a Mexican-born missionary who serves as a Hispanic catalytic missionary in Midland (Texas) Association, was sent to the Tennessee conference in mid-September.
Smith also contacted Mickey Basham, pastor of Puryear (Tenn.) Baptist Church and arranged for Avila to speak there on a Sunday morning. For a number of years Puryear has had a ministry and Sunday school class for Hispanic farm workers, but communicating the gospel to them in their native language has been a challenge.
When Avila arrived at Puryear for Sunday school, 22 Mexican men were there.
Being Mexican himself, and knowing not only their language and culture, but also their religious upbringing in the Catholic Church, Avila was able to simply share the plan of salvation and offer an invitation to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Fourteen men made the decision.
“It was news to them when I told them that Jesus was not still on the cross, but he is alive and able to come into their life and forgive their sins,” said Avila, noting, “These people are hungry for the gospel.”
Basham had scheduled Avila to visit one of the local squash farms near the church. They carried soft drinks, cake, Spanish Bibles and tracts to share with the Mexican men while they were on break.
Once again Avila simply shared the gospel with the 24 who were there and gave the invitation. Two more accepted Christ into their hearts. A number of them who did not make decisions said they had never heard the gospel before.
Avila also visited the community of Henry on the last day of the missions conference.
Pastor Brian Anderson and the congregation of Henry Baptist Church have been working with Hispanics for about a year and wanted to take advantage of Avila’s language skills and expertise.
On Saturday, before Avila’s appearance at Henry church, Anderson and Avila went door-to-door, visiting Hispanics and inviting them to church. The next morning 20 Hispanics were in attendance, primarily ladies whose husbands had returned to Mexico to take care of family business.
After presenting the gospel, 10 of those present accepted Christ. Avila plans to return to Henry in November with some members of his Hispanic churches in Midland to help strengthen the work there.
By week’s end, 26 Mexicans had accepted Jesus. During the entire week, the other missionaries who had come to the World Missions Conference were praying for these people and their salvation.
“Somewhere someone had planted the seeds of the gospel,” Avila said.
“I was just fortunate to be the one who could be a part of the harvest.”

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  • Tim Hill