For a week in August a mission team from Venezuela worked in our area. The team visited with Hispanics in several communities and in multiple settings. A sawmill owner allowed the team to present the gospel at break time; a soccer match concluded with a picnic and a presentation of the gospel; a meeting with young families was held in the associational office; and two worship services where held in the meeting place of the existing Spanish congregation.
A total of 28 persons prayed to receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord. We rejoiced. The team also provided training for the church Hispanic church leaders in how to disciple the new believers.
The team also led worship in two Anglo churches on Sunday and visited with the area pastors at the weekly prayer breakfast. It was well-received.
Pastor Isaias Rojas led the five-person team, which included his wife and two grown children. The other member was Jannette Vargas, who served as the interpreter. After a week with us they traveled on to Spartanburg, S.C., and repeated the process there.
And now, as Paul Harvey says, for the rest of the story.
In 1950 a Southern Baptist missionary family, Ullman and Ruth Moss, transferred from Colombia to Venezuela. They were part of the first wave of Southern Baptist missionaries to that nation. Soon the Mosses planted a church in the city of Valencia. Across the years this church has grown and prospered.
Among the early converts in the work of the Moss family were the grandparents of Pastor Rojas. Among the pastors of the Valencia church in later years was the brother-in-law of Pastor Rojas. Jannette, the interpreter, became a Christian there and united with that church a few years ago. And just this year her mother also became a believer there.
Ullman Moss grew up in Pickens County, Alabama. He was saved and grew up in Mt Pleasant Baptist Church, a member of the Pickens Baptist Association. Ruth was a Texan. They met at Southwestern Seminary.
“What goes around comes around,” is a well-known folk saying. We feel that we experienced its truth as this team which was the product of the work of one of our own came to help us in the work of evangelizing our new neighbors, neighbors whose language we do not speak.
Pastor Rojas said it this way. He expressed thanks for the missionaries bringing the Word of God to his people. Now, he is returning the blessing by coming to help us. He sees the movement of Hispanic people from Central and South America as an act of God whereby they can better receive the Word of God. He sees the circle of missions continuing to go round and around.
I pray that he is correct. I pray that we will be good stewards of this opportunity. I pray that God will bless these efforts. I pray that the Spanish speaking people of the Americas will come to know Jesus as both Savior and Lord. I pray that they will spark revival in us Anglos in the process.
I know that all of us who became acquainted with the mission team from Venezuela were inspired by their faith and their faithfulness.
It seems to us that we have moved into a new era of mission work. Senders have become receivers and receivers senders. The temptation to arrogance and paternalism is weakening. My week with this faithful team from Venezuela taught me more about my dependence upon others; my need and our need to work cooperatively with our brothers and sisters in other lands.
If Christians in North America are to be Great Commission Christians we must learn to receive the gospel from other lands graciously. We must learn to thank God that the fire we sent out years ago is coming back to brighten our land, strengthen our communities and enliven our churches. Indeed what goes around comes around.
Gary Farley is partner in the Center for Rural Church leadership, Carrollton, Ala.