El Paso Baptists surpass goals for church starting
EL PASO–When Baptists in El Paso focus on starting churches, they can't get too much of a good thing.
El Paso Baptist Association recently surpassed two goals for launching and funding new churches.
“Life on the (Texas/Mexico) border means crossing bridges to participate in a constant and vibrant exchange of goods, services, ideas and lifestyles,” noted Josue Valerio, the association's director of missions.
“The Lord has placed El Paso Baptist Association in a strategic location to bridge the border for Christ through the ministries of our local churches. … Church planting has become a driving force and intentional strategy to reach people for Christ in the El Paso/Juarez region.”
However, if they're going to take advantage of their strategic location, El Paso Baptists need more churches to handle the ministry load, Valerio acknowledged.
“In a city with approximately one Baptist church per 10,000 documented residents and a few evangelical churches, we began to pray that God would give us one new church each month in 2003,” he said.
So far this year, the association has started 16 congregations, four better than the goal.
Valerio credits his predecessor, Lorenzo Peña, now associational missions coordinator for the Baptist General Convention of Texas; John Silva, a BGCT church multiplication consultant; and Jackie Miller, the association's church-planting coordinator, with emphasizing the importance of starting churches.
But he cites another source for the success. “We have seen a breakthrough of God's hand at work in our association through prayer, mobilization, training and the resourcing of church planters,” he said.
That's good news–one major goal accomplished. Unfortunately, it produced some not-so-good news. “We have exhausted our resources,” Valerio reported.
But even without church-starting funds, El Paso Baptists think their region needs more churches, he said. “We believe the Lord will continue his work in planting new churches in 2004.”
So, short on cash, El Paso Association leaders set out to raise more money. They organized the association's first church planting banquet and set out to raise $25,000 to start churches in 2004.
Instead, they raised $40,224.80 at the banquet. The Texas Baptist Missions Foundation agreed to provide another $25,000 in matching funds. Caprock Baptist Association, which covers a rural swath of the South Plains, raised an additional $25,000. Other donors contributed property valued at more than $25,000.
That represents a 2004 church-starting campaign account of slightly more than $115,000.
“We are so grateful to God for the people and organizations that have joined us in our church-planting efforts,” Valerio said. “God has blessed us above and beyond anything we could have imagined.”
He asked other Texas Baptists to help too: “Please join us in praying for our city as we seek to start new churches to bridge our border for Christ.”