Texans' report upbeat
from partnership Down Under
___By Orville Scott
___Texas Baptist Communications
___At least 37 Australians came to Christ and Aussie Baptists gained renewed vision and encouragement through the ministry of 73 Texas Baptist volunteers in the "Land Down Under" this summer, said Don Sewell, director of Texas Partnerships for the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
___The volunteers, mostly laypeople including two teenagers and a woman in her 80s,
served July 22-Aug. 3 in 19 churches in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. They preached and taught the Bible in churches, spoke in schools, led home Bible studies and participated in evangelistic neighborhood parties.
|DURING THE AUSTRALIA PARTNERSHIP, Southwestern Baptist Thelogical Seminary Professor Daniel Sanchez (center) rejoices with Juan Borgas and his family following Borgas' coming to Christ after his wife (left) prayed for him 25 years.
___Following a message by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Professor Daniel Sanchez at Canley Heights Baptist Church in Sydney, a man came forward to receive Christ.
___"The congregation was obviously moved, and his wife explained that she had been praying for him to know Christ for 25 years," Sanchez said. "The man is an accomplished musician, and the church members feel he will make a great contribution to their ministry."
___Mateo Rendon, pastor of Primera Bautista Iglesia in Corpus Christi, was one of four Texans serving at Belmont Baptist Church of New Castle in New South Wales, where five professions of faith in Christ were recorded. "I'm ready to go again," Rendon said.
___Minister of Missions Bryan Houser, one of nine volunteers from Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church in Dallas, said he and other Texans were enthusiastically received in Australian public schools as well as in New Lambton Baptist Church of New Castle, where they preached and led in worship.
___"Church members said we lifted their spirits as we provided specific helps for conducting Bible studies and for getting young people involved in their church," he said.
___"There were two public professions of faith in the Lambton church."
___A highlight of the trip for Jeff Rees, pastor of Garden Oaks Baptist Church in
Pasadena, was leading a prayer of salvation in public schools in Bankstown, a suburb of Sydney.
|MANUEL ALVAREZ (left), deacon at Canley Heights Baptist Church in Sydney, presents a plaque of appreciation to Daniel Sanchez, professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Baptist General Convention of Texas for ministry through Texas Partnerships.
___The Texas volunteers went from the summer heat of Texas to winter in Australia, but they all found warm Christian fellowship in the homes of Australia Baptists, Sewell said.
___Many expressed similar reactions to that of Tracey Bartley, minister of education at First Baptist Church of Hallsville, who served with Cabramatta Grace Baptist Church, a Vietnamese congregation near Sydney.
___"I grew a lot, and I felt we encouraged the church with new vision for reaching their community for Christ," Bartley said.
___Robert Jenkins, who served 13 years as director of missions for Smith Baptist Association in the Tyler area, said the volunteers got a new perspective of God's work in broader perspective.
___He said an Australian Baptist leader told him, "When Texas volunteers come to Australia, there's a marked increase in baptisms."
___"Australia Baptists credit Texas Baptists with helping them turn their denomination around," said Joe Bruce, projects director for Texas Partnerships.
___"When the partnership began in 1984, Baptists, like most other Christian groups in Australia, were losing members. But in the past decade, more than 100 new churches have been planted and more than 10,000 new members added.
|DAVID APPLEBY, pastor of Fairmont Central Baptist Church in Pasadena, presents an honorary Texas citizenship certificate to Pastor Alan Grieve of Stafford Heights Baptist Church in Brisbane, during the Australia Partnership.
___"Next year will be the final experiences in the formal partnership with Austalian Baptists," Bruce said. "We plan to send several teams of volunteers who will minister with Aussie churches before the Olympics. Also, we will assist volunteers who wish to share their faith in sports evangelism opportunities."
___Contact the Texas Partnerships office at (214) 828-5181 for more information on volunteer opportunities in Australia.
___Texas Baptists also have evangelistic partnerships with Baptists in Germany, Estonia and the Northwest Baptist Convention, and limited partnerships with Baptists in Brazil, Mexico, Siberia and Cuba. They have prayer partnerships with the Bengali Muslims, Egyptian Bedouin and the Sundanese of Indonesia.
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