Kirksville churches find El Salvadorans hungry for Gospel
AHUACHAPAN, El Salvador–The fields in El Salvador are so white and ready to harvest, it’s hard to avoid sharing the Gospel.
At least that’s what Larry Gibson, pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Kirksville, discovered. Gibson and 12 others from Kirksville Baptist Division journeyed to the mountainous northwestern region of the country near Guatemala to spread the Gospel door to door and train local churches in evangelism Nov. 1-9.
“It was a very fruitful time,” he said. “We were received very well, especially if the number of salvations we saw is any indication.”
In addition to Gibson, the pastors of seven Baptist churches: First Kirksville; Lancaster Baptist; First Unionville; First Macon; First Bevier; Liberty Union; and First Milan went along with four laymen and Bill Smathers, director of missions of Kirksville Baptist Division. They split into teams and worked with seven local churches going to door to door spreading the Gospel.
“While we were sharing, the local church members were behind us praying,” Gibson said. “Every team saw people come to know the Lord.”
The team saw 260 people accept Christ during the week, but not all of the decisions came about through the door-to-door evangelism. The team scheduled one day of rest and went on a tour of Mayan ruins, but the attraction was not yet open. Soon three busses of school children pulled out. Gibson, who is 6-foot-8, said the children were curious about his height, and that opened a door of conversation. Before the gates to the Mayan ruins opened, Gibson shared the Gospel with all the children and eight of them accepted Jesus as their Savior.
Later, the principal told Gibson he was a Christian.
“He came up to me and said ‘I want to thank you for talking to my kids about the Lord,’” Gibson said. “A lot of doors like these just kept opening up. The week was just full of experience after experience like this.”
He said the churches in El Salvador, especially the one he worked with, Iglesia Bautista Caleb (Caleb Baptist Church), are passionate about evangelism and discipleship. He saw this play out when he was asked to officiate the wedding of four young couples.
“They even use weddings as an outreach tool,” he said. “Many couples don’t get married simply because they can’t afford it, so the church takes all the expenses out of it. They provide the wedding dress, clothes for the groom, and a meal. As folks get saved, they can’t join the church if they’re cohabitating and not married. Out of the four couples I married, two got baptized that afternoon.
“They were married Sunday and Monday morning they were right there with us going door to door. Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning and afternoon they were still there. They really showed their commitment to the Lord.”
This was Gibson’s second trip to the tiny Central American nation. He went in July to meet with the local church and prepare for this trip. In fact, in July he baptized one of the women who was married this month at Caleb. Although the church is only a few months old, it is growing like wildfire.
“They started in August with 30 people,” he said. “By November they had 120 members. They told me that in March, when we hope to go back, they hope to have 300 members.”
Gibson said the people that join aren’t just doing it because Americans ask them to or some other less-than-genuine reason. The church requires new converts to go through weeks of discipleship before they can join.
Gibson said he hopes to help lead three teams from Fellowship and the Kirksville association to El Salvador in 2008, and encourages every church in Missouri to take advantage of the Missouri Baptist Convention’s partnership.
“The people are so open, so friendly and very honored to have you visit,” he said. “It’s not only a life changing event for those who are saved and a shot of adrenaline for the local churches, it’s a blessing to you as well. It’s a joy when you get to be God’s tool. I loved it and can’t wait to go back again.”