MBC, Southridge church members lend helping hand
SANTA CATARINA MASAHUAT, El Salvador—Why does our Lord place certain groups of people together to reach a common goal? Such different talents, personalities, skills and backgrounds are seen working together to bring results that will not only last for a lifetime, but for eternity.
That is exactly what took place Nov. 5-12. In His unfathomable ways, God saw fit to place a maintenance worker, a technician, and a multicultural church planting strategist together. Their job was to help rebuild Iglesia Bautista El Sinai in Santa Catarina Masahuat, El Salvador.
It began in 2001, when a devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck El Salvador, a small nation in Central America. This resulted in a landslide in Santa Tecla, just west of the capital and home of different churches that the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) is partnered with. MBC Lead Maintenance Supervisor Kelly Myers started mission work in El Salvador in 2002, helping rebuild homes, churches and businesses that were left in ruins due to this catastrophic event.
Although most of the trips that Myers has been on are primarily construction, during the mission trip he was on to El Salvador in 2002 he met a little boy named Jose Reyes. Myers and MBC Multicultural Church Planting Strategist Mauricio Vargas were together when this boy came up to them and sang a song in Spanish. During the song he began crying. They then realized the song was about his father leaving the family.
“I just fell in love with his family,” Myers said. Jose, now a young man at the age of 17, worked with Myers, Vargas and Ellis over the trip. Being musically blessed, he leads worship and, at times, speaks in Santa Catarina Masahuat.
Having a servant’s heart, Myers, a member of Southridge Baptist Church in Jefferson City, said, “Just tell me what needs to be worked on and I’ll work on it. My ministry isn’t necessarily through one-on-one evangelism. It’s through construction.” Southridge has a partnership with Nazarett Baptist Church in Santa Tecla, and Zaragoza Baptist Church in the industrial town of Zaragoza. Both Nazarett Baptist Church and Zaragoza celebrated their 40th anniversary while there.
David Ellis, also a member of Southridge Baptist, was also involved in this last mission trip to El Salvador, and called it an “encouragement mission trip.” Ellis, having an evangelist’s mindset, said, “I felt at a loss because I felt as if what I was doing was temporal. Who knows when another earthquake could strike, flood hit or volcano could erupt and destroy everything we were working on?” He went on to say, “I wanted to go out and verbally share Jesus with people, but what we did for Iglesia Bautista El Sinai helped motivate the people to continue ministry.”
Things that seem so small to most, like painting, installing lights and putting up a dividing wall to help keep out the rain, are essential in a country where there’s a large Catholic Cathedral in almost every town but few Baptist churches where people are able to gather to learn about what a relationship with Jesus Christ is about.
In a country where natural disasters are very frequent, construction and relief missions are vital. “We added about 30 percent to Iglesia Bautista El Sinai that was unusable,” said Ellis, “and on the final Sunday after all the work was completed there were 75 children.”
The MBC short-term missionaries are learning to be more open-minded about all types of service. All things work together for the good of those who love God, it says in Romans 8:28. That means building and restoration tasks in places like El Salvador.
While there, the group was blessed to meet with the mayor of the town of Santa Catarina Masahuat, Ovidio Ruiz Osorio. He not only was grateful for all that the group did for Iglesia Bautista El Sinai, but also had many other plans for the newly reconstructed church, such as making the church a community center for the entire town. This, along with the many other tasks the group took on for the church, was a great encouragement. They could see opportunities for spreading the Gospel among their own community.
On a daily basis the pastor of Iglesia Bautista El Sinai, Freddy Valdez, expressed appreciation to the group by driving to pick them up at their hotel in Sonsonote and taking them to the church in Santa Catarina Masahuat. “I thank God for safety as we traveled through the mountains,” Vargas said. “They had such willingness to get to areas that are hard to get to.”
By the team’s restoration of the church there was a huge impact on the whole community. Although El Salvador is a country of humble means, the people still take much pride in their facilities.
Before the team left, Pastor Valdez told the team that he was glad that the MBC has a partnership with the Baptist Association of El Salvador. “We feel that God had called us to be an Acts 1:8 church, and after much prayer, consideration, and evaluation we have decided to have a partnership with the church in Santa Catarina Masahuat,” said Daniel Hale, pastor of First Baptist Church, Millersville. The church last had a partnership with a church in another country (Ecuador) in 1995.
Iglsia Bautista El Sinai has started seven missions, and is looking to begin two more.
“That’s where we want to step in and get involved,” Hale said. “Our main purpose in doing this is because we feel that God has called us to do missions throughout the world.”
“We are looking for other churches here in Missouri like Daniel Hale’s that are willing to begin partnerships with churches in El Salvador,” Vargas said.