Pastor David Rodriguez prepares to baptize a young lady at Iglesia Bautista Horeb in New Orleans. The church has baptized several people who came to faith through outreach events during Crossover. (Screen capture)

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Iglesia Bautista Horeb, a bilingual church in New Orleans, has already seen spiritual fruit from their outreach during the Serve Tour + Crossover events the weekend before the SBC Annual Meeting.

The congregation recently baptized 10 people during a service on July 16, several of which came as a result of evangelism that took place at these outreach events.

David Rodriguez, senior pastor of Iglesia Bautista Horeb, said preparing for and participating in these events has been transformative for the congregation.

“The encouragement and the motivation that I’ve seen in our church out of Crossover has been simply great,” Rodriguez said. “It’s definitely been awesome.” 

Members of Iglesia Bautista Horeb participated in evangelism training before hosting several weekend Serve Tour + Crossover events in New Orleans.

In total, Horeb said the church had hundreds of Gospel conversations during events they put on in their community from Friday through Sunday, June 9-11.

As a result of these events, Rodriguez said more than 30 people made decisions to accept Christ, including a handful of those baptized on the 16th.

Events included a cookout in the community on Friday, a summer fest event (a block-party style event with games, activities and food) on Saturday and a service at their church on Sunday.  

The church was not alone in its efforts at these events. The Serve Tour + Crossover events were a partnership between local churches in New Orleans, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, the North American Mission Board and the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

Rodriguez said the church even had help from several volunteer mission teams from Oklahoma, Alabama and Tennessee.

He said the events were an opportunity to teach his congregation more about the diversity and cooperation of the SBC.

“Sometimes, as Hispanic churches, I don’t know if the pastors, including me, have done the best job in keeping our people abreast in the knowledge of what the SBC is and does and the cooperation and all that,” Rodriguez said.

“These kinds of events help our churches to connect and to know that we belong. There is a denomination that we do have influencing power for the Gospel of Jesus Christ together. We’re in the same Kingdom and we can work together and make things happen. It’s definitely very encouraging for the church.”

Iglesia Bautista Horeb hosted their summer fest outreach event on Saturday, June 10.

Jack Hunter, executive director for the New Orleans Baptist Association, said he was amazed at the creativity of the churches that hosted various events during the weekend and is thankful for the partnerships from all levels of the convention.

“Crossover was a real blessing to our churches,” Hunter said

“It allowed them to dream of ways and imagine ways that they might reach their community with the Gospel through compassion and through a public witness that perhaps they had not thought of before. It was a sounding benefit to our city.

“It was a very collaborative effort. It is probably is as good a snapshot of cooperation as you can find. It is a platform on which we can all work together for the benefit of the Gospel, the local church and a broader, more robust witness for Christ. It was a very unifying effort, knowing that all of our churches were sharing the Gospel within their contexts.

“Those kinds of stories (the baptisms at Iglesia Bautista Horeb) enliven the whole association of our churches.”

Rodriquez said the church immediately followed up with those who made decisions by visiting their homes in the days following the outreach events. Several of those who made decisions have either visited the church, visited a church community group or joined the next steps style class at the church.  

He is thankful for all of the convention partners who helped put on these events but emphasized that he wants his congregation to have a renewed sense of responsibility and motivation to reach their community.

“I think it starts from within, on the inside,” Rodriguez said. “The first thing I want and hope for in the future is for the church first. Waking up and opening our eyes. Maybe we have been too complacent as a church lately.  

“There’s so much out there that God wants to do, and we need to have our eyes open to that. Just kind of re-envisioning what’s out there and what God wants to do. Once we do that and we partner and come together and start doing the work, then God is going to just simply bring people to the Kingdom.”