RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Adrian is one of thousands who enter the United States on economic hardship visas. He works hard. Every week he faithfully calls his mother in Mexico. He sends her money, too.
Emptiness lived behind Adrian’s ever-smiling face. A few Christian customers who frequented the restaurant where Adrian is assistant manager noticed his peppy step seemed burdened. Through an unlikely network and turn of events, the Christians’ witness to Adrian resulted in his conversion to biblical Christianity.
“After I pray my heart light,” said Adrian in his best English. “My whole life different. Everything wonderful.”
Adrian attends Mision Bautista, a Latin mission church of Salem Baptist Church in suburban Richmond, Va. That’s where Buryl and Linda Boswell, retired Southern Baptist missionaries from Peru, have plugged in their lives to continue in God’s work.
“God never revokes his call to missions,” said Buryl. “At least that’s what I believe.”
“When we came back to the States, we missed the Latin culture, the people, the food, the work,” said Linda. “And I especially missed teaching.” Both Boswells commented that more than 30 years on the mission field is not something one easily quits or forgets.
“We knocked on a lot of doors when we got back home,” said Buryl, describing the Boswells search for a place to serve. “But the door that opened widest was the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.”
Buryl said that he and Linda had kept up with events in the Southern Baptist Convention and in Virginia, and that they wanted to be identified with people who highly regarded the Bible.
“You might say we are fundamentalists,” said Buryl, explaining that the distinction should be understood in a biblical sense and not a pejorative one.
In a meeting with SBCV Executive Director, Doyle Chauncey, Buryl explained that he and Linda couldn’t help but run into Latin and Hispanic people everywhere they went. They were sure this was no accident. The Boswells believed God wanted them to continue in ministry to Spanish-speaking people.
“Our meeting with Doyle was very encouraging,” Buryl said. “Linda and I detected a kindred spirit in Doyle.” The Boswells are in the application process to become SBCV church planters.
Meanwhile, the Boswells had joined Salem Baptist Church, a uniquely-aligned SBCV church where Steve Smith is pastor.
“We were very happy to have the Boswells in our church,” said Smith. “We are all on the same page in terms of our mutual vision for Kingdom work, and, more specifically, a mission to Latin people.”
Through Smith’s preaching and leadership, Salem has increased its Lottie Moon Christmas Offering five-fold, and the church’s missions committee, which Buryl chairs, is exploring some missions projects for members to undertake in 2000.
The Boswells agreed that such an attitude toward missions in a church and its pastor makes them feel at home.
“These people have accepted us with open arms,” said Buryl, remarking that the members voted to allow Mision Bautista to meet in its historic church building, built in the early 1800s, which is adjacent to the more modern facility Salem now uses.
“We wanted the space to be used for ministry and not as a museum,” Smith said. Salem Baptist Church has also provided Sunday school literature and office space for Buryl in the historic facility.
The fledgling mission began in October and has grown to more than 20 attendees, with two recently baptized. People from every single Central American country have attended Mision Bautista, as well as people from Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina.
Buryl and Linda couldn’t be happier. She is back to teaching Latin women, and Buryl is chest-deep in the foundation of a new church plant.
“When we were with the [then] Foreign Mission Board, we were called ‘area missionaries.’ But before this (church planting movement) theology came down the road, I was planting churches,” said Buryl, who planted 13 churches in Peru.
“I was saved in a mission situation in northern Virginia at Midway Island Baptist Church, which was a newly planted church. So, church planting is in my blood.”
The Boswells hope that in a year Mision Bautista will be a “free-standing, autonomous Baptist church,” said Buryl. “We want to avoid paternalism and disciple the converts to become a church on their own.”
When that happens, “We’ll go out and do it again,” he said.