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June 2, 1999






Baptists invited to reach arms around El Paso
___By Ken Camp
___Texas Baptist Communications
___EL PASO--El Paso Baptists want to show God's love by wrapping their arms around their city, and they hope other Texas Baptists will join in the group hug.
___Abrazando a El Paso (Embracing El Paso) is a concerted evangelistic effort scheduled for Nov. 5-6, prior to the annual session of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
___The evangelistic thrust will include "fiesta" block parties, community ministry opportunities, door-to-door canvassing and distribution of "Jesus" videos and Scripture portions, and a Spanish-language evangelistic crusade Nov. 7, according to Lorenzo Pena,
city
ABRAZANDO A EL PASO (Embracing El Paso) is a concerted evangelistic effort scheduled for Nov. 5-6, prior to the annual session of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
director of missions for El Paso Baptist Association.
___"This is a major attempt to get the gospel out in a concentrated way," Pena said. "It is one part of the overall Focus on El Paso, with its goal of reaching our community with the gospel and seeing a transformed borderland."
___Focus on El Paso is an associational strategy for strengthening churches and developing ministries to reach and disciple residents of the El Paso-Juarez area, with its largely unchurched population of 1.5 million. Texas Baptists help to support Focus on El Paso through gifts to the Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions.
___Abrazando a El Paso is modeled after the successful "crossover" events held in host cities prior to annual meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention in recent years, according to Bailey Stone, BGCT evangelism division director. Crossover links visiting convention-goers with churches from the host city in a variety of evangelistic projects.
___Stone proposed a crossover-style event to El Paso Association several months ago, agreeing that the evangelism division would help the association any way possible with whatever events it planned.
___"Abrazando a El Paso is a tremendous opportunity for Texas Baptists from around our state to join El Paso Baptists as they sow seeds of the gospel in this great mission city. I believe we will see many saved as a result," Stone said. "It also will help Texas Baptists to understand the mission field in which the Baptists of El Paso serve and the challenges that they face."
___The association appointed a local task force--chaired by Levi Price, pastor of First Baptist Church in El Paso--which adapted the crossover approach to the local culture. The Abrazando a El Paso theme grew out of the Hispanic custom of greeting beloved friends with an "abrazo" or bear-hug.
___"We want to make an impact on our city, reaching people for Christ," Price said. He noted that only 2 percent of the population in El Paso is Baptist, and only 4 percent has any connection to an evangelical Christian church.
___The associational task force also hopes the emphasis will help "jumpstart" local churches and missions, Price added, pointing out that most are smaller membership congregations. He mentioned the possibility that some established churches in other parts of the state might develop people-to-people partnerships with El Paso congregations.
___Pena introduced the evangelistic emphasis at the recent BGCT Executive Board meeting, and it will be promoted extensively at the annual Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas meeting, June 28-30 in Wichita Falls.
___Pena is asking Texas Baptists who wish to participate in Abrazando a El Paso to contact the associational office for potential assignments. Call toll-free (800) 711-3909.

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