Partnership with El Salvador begins in earnest
CAPE GIRARDEAU – With several pastors from El Salvador standing by, the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) officially announced a three-year partnership with the tiny Central American nation during the MBC’s annual meeting Oct. 31.
Several MBC officials inked the formal agreement including: Norm Howell, partnership mission specialist; David Clippard, executive director; Ralph Sawyer, outgoing president; and Mauricio Vargas, multicultural/catalytic missionary and native of El Salvador. The MBC is now in partnership with the Baptist Association of El Salvador.
The El Salvador partnership is meant to replace Romania as an international MBC partnership, although the convention voted to extend that partnership another year.
“We’ll stay until the job gets done,” Howell said. “As long as the doors are open, we’ll be there. God is blessing our efforts.”
The convention also has adopted the Kurdish people group and has a partnership with the state of Colorado through at least 2008.
A partnership with El Salvador has several advantages over a country like Romania, although that partnership continues to thrive, with more than 45 MBC churches taking trips there this year alone. Air fare should be significantly less and a flight from St. Louis to San Salvador, the nation’s capital, takes less than six hours in the air, as opposed to the 11 it takes to fly into Romania plus layovers. El Salvador is in the same time zone as Missouri which should help keep jet lag to a minimum. Another major selling point of the Spanish-speaking country is that it gives the many Spanish-speaking pastors and churches in Missouri an excellent opportunity for missions.
“God is calling our people,” Howell said. “He is sending them. It’s not about our seating capacity in our churches, it’s about our sending capacity.”
In the weeks since the annual meeting, Howell’s office has received more than 200 inquiries about partnership missions and more than 70 regarding El Salvador.
“I believe we are on our way to becoming a ‘mission-sending convention,’” he said.
In January, Clippard, Howell and members of the Executive Board will travel to El Salvador. Other vision trips are planned each month through October 2007. Once a church-to-church partnership is established, mission opportunities will include preaching/teaching, youth ministries, recreation/sports ministries, church planting, discipleship training teams, English as a Second Language (ESL), music, children’s ministries, prayer walking, building teams, evangelism teams, medical teams and deaf ministries.
El Salvador is predominantly Roman Catholic (75 percent). Missouri Baptists will be partnering with the 54 already-established Baptist churches among eight million people.
Samuel Campos, a citizen of El Salvador representing the El Salvador Association of Baptists, asked messengers to the convention to consider mission trips to his country.
“Thank you for considering El Salvador as a partner in this mission,” Campos said. “You are welcome to come to El Salvador any time.”
For more information about partnership missions, contact Howell at 1-800-736-6227, ext. 621.