Hispanic men shoot guns, then hear Gospel
By Allen Palmeri
December 9, 2004
RUSSELLVILLE – Gerardo Ortiz was eager to shoot guns with his fellow Hispanics on a cold, windy Saturday afternoon at a shooting range outside Russellville, but he was even more excited to talk about Jesus Christ.
Ortiz, a Building and Property Services employee with the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), invited two of his fellow MBC missionaries to join about a dozen Hispanics from Mexico, El Salvador and Chile Nov. 27 to shoot pistols and rifles at targets. Some of the Hispanics worship with Ortiz at Iglecia Cristiana International, Jefferson City, an MBC church; others are un-churched.
Ortiz, a United States citizen who grew up in Mexico, gathered the men around him halfway through the shooting to tell them, in Spanish, how God created the world and has a plan to redeem fallen man to his original sinless state. The men listened easily to the words as they were spoken in their native tongue.
“I think they respond more to him because he speaks their language and there’s just a little more credibility there when it’s someone of their own culture rather than somebody coming in from the outside,” said Mike Cooper, a youth specialist with the MBC’s Sunday School/Discipleship team.
Scott Brawner, MBC student evangelism specialist and a former Army Ranger sniper in the first Gulf War, brought along three rifles and two pistols for the men to shoot. He also provided safety tips.
“They were very honored that we would take our time to come out and shoot with them,” Brawner said. “I think a lot of Hispanics feel racism from the Anglos, and so when an Anglo is willing to share his own guns and let everyone shoot them, that shows them that not all white Christians are racist.”
Ortiz said that in many Latin American countries, citizens are not allowed to own firearms.
“In Mexico and Chile, if they find you with a gun, they’ll take it away from you, give you a big fine or put you in jail,” he said.
The reaction from the group was positive.
“Two of the guys told me, ‘Let’s do it again,’” Ortiz said.