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‘Operation GO’ taking gospel to Middle America’s 28 million homes

EL JICARO, Guatemala (BP)–Southern Baptists and other Great Commission Christians are launching an ambitious plan to take the gospel to all 28 million homes in Central America during the next four years.

Volunteers, missionaries and national Baptists will saturate the region with Christian material as part of Operation Gospel Outreach, or Operation GO.

Bob W. Roberts, director of the Great Commission Network Center at Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo., has led a volunteer team to El Jicaro, Guatemala, as part of a test case for Operation GO.

The team prayerwalked the area before distributing tracts and translations of the Gospel of John.

“By bathing it with prayer, God opened up a lot of doors,” Roberts said.

Many residents opened their homes to the volunteers out of curiosity.

“They respect gringos and would invite us into their homes,” he said. “When they found out we were men of God, they would ask us to pray for their sick children. They were so excited to find someone to pray with them.”

But the team also encountered painful reminders of the city’s lostness. Many churches in the area were locked shut.

“We met a 103-year-old man crying like a baby … because the church was padlocked,” Roberts said. “When he saw us, he praised God because he thought we were there to open the church.”

Missionaries recognize Operation GO faces formidable barriers.

There are villages located in hard to reach areas that require days of travel to reach. Linguistically, millions of Central Americans do not speak Spanish. Instead, residents most likely speak one of at least 260 distinct ethnic languages. The low rate of literacy makes printed material useless among many of the people.

“We have made the mistake for too many years in thinking that somehow a person who can recognize their name on paper and can count to 10 can read the Bible and understand the truth,” said Ken Sorrell, field strategy associate for International Mission Board’s Middle America region.

Therefore, the Gospel of John and other Christian materials also are available in audio formats.

“It is important to note that this is not an evangelistic thrust; it’s pre-evangelistic seed-sowing,” Sorrell said. “We would like everyone to have access to the gospel at least once in their lifetime.”

Gospel saturation is a fast and easy method to share the gospel with as many people as possible. It does not require fluency in the language and volunteers do not need prior missions experience. Ultimately, the message of Jesus Christ reaches thousands of people within a short amount of time.

“Where God’s message goes, it does not return void,” Roberts said.

Roberts and Second Baptist Church are organizing volunteers from the United States to participate in Operation GO. At least 200 teams are needed this year to conduct the gospel saturation. That number should double next year.

“I really think Operation GO is a vital part of making sure that everybody everywhere gets to know the gospel,” Roberts said. “The only way to do that is to mobilize individuals who are willing to go.”
For information about joining an Operation GO team, call Bob Roberts at (417) 887-3111, ext. 137, or e-mail him at [email protected]. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: SOWING SEEDS and THANKING GOD.

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  • Brittany Conner