By Mark Snipes, CBFVA Missions Coordinator
“Bearing Witness to Jesus Christ” was CBFVA’s theme for this past year. While there are many stories about how this theme was embodied in the last twelve months, there is one in particular that I would like to highlight.
In February, I traveled to El Salvador with a team of ministers led by Sue Smith of LUCHA ministries. The intent of this trip was to develop relationships with churches and missionaries in El Salvador hoping to find potential future partnerships for CBFVA and our partner churches.
During this trip our group traveled all over the country and witnessed amazing ways that the church in El Salvador is bearing witness to Christ. Our group experienced that churches are creative, passionate and intentional in the ways that they minister, challenging us to come back to the states and look at missions in a different way. Mision Vida Y Paz (coordinated by Molly Juarez) is a non-profit that has collaborated with local churches to begin teaching classes in peace building and character development through local schools in Chalchuapa with over 2000 students attending. We were also able to witness Rios De Agua Viva Baptist Church put on “night soccer” games in the streets of Zacatecoluca between rival gangs, helping to break the cycle of violence through sharing the gospel and providing a safe space for teenagers to come and play.
On our final morning our team sat under the pavilion in our hotel for breakfast with a group of seminary students. Many of them took an hour bus ride just to meet with us. During our time together, our conversations were wrapped around the idea of “Bearing Witness.” For an hour these students spoke passionately about evangelism and challenged me wrestle with a topic that moderates, including myself, are often uncomfortable with. These students pushed us to bear witness in more powerful ways by recounting story after story about how the words of the gospel led to families being reconciled and entire communities laying down their weapons for the greater good.
Earlier this year, during BTSR’s Life on the Vine series, John Vest, professor of evangelism at Union, spoke passionately about evangelism and about how moderates have tended to bear witness through deed, but we tend to leave out our words. This year I have been challenged to be more vocal about “Bearing Witness to Christ” in deed and word. May we all bear witness to the Christ we have witnessed and speak boldly about our faith and convictions.