Open doors abound in El Salvador
SONSONATE, El Salvador (BP)--In many cases the goal of a mission trip is to open doors to spread the Good News, but when Ron Adrian traveled to El Salvador he discovered that the doors were already open.
He just needed to walk through them.
Adrian, pastor of Freedom Baptist Church in Brookfield, Mo., along with eight other Missouri Baptists, including Mauricio Vargas, the convention's multicultural church planting strategist, traveled to Sonsonate, El Salvador, last November. The focus of the week-long trip involved making connections with small rural churches located outside the city.
Vargas, who grew up in Sonsonate, acted as tour host for the mission team. Land-wise, Sonsonate is about the same size as Columbia, Mo. However, Sonsonate has about six times the population.
"We were actually in Mauricio's hometown and we saw the country and the places where he lived," Adrian recounted. "Truly it is a very underprivileged and poverty-stricken area of El Salvador. It is incredible how God was able to pluck Mauricio out of Sonsonate and allow him to do so many great things for the Lord."
"It was actually geared as a vision trip," Adrian said. "Our goal was to make contact with these rural pastors and churches so that we can develop partnerships between them and Baptist churches in Missouri."
While traveling the mountainous and often rough terrain of El Salvador, Adrian said the mission team took every opportunity to go door-to-door spreading the Gospel and promoting the work of nearby rural churches.
"We were busy from sunup to sunset," the pastor said. "We engaged in a variety of experiences every day and visited with everyone we could."
The Missourians also brought along 2,000 Gospel tracts in Spanish.
"We gave away all 2,000 of them, so that gives you an idea of how many people we were able to come into contact with," Adrian said. "The main one we gave away was Billy Graham's 'How to Have Peace with God.' It's very easy to read and I think it gives a clear representation of what it means to give your life over to Jesus."
Giving out tracts in El Salvador was completely different from handing them out in America, Adrian said.
"Every single person received [the tract] with joy and nobody refused," he said. "In fact, many of the people stopped whatever they were doing and took time to read them right there. They were so open to you there and they were so polite and gracious, saying, 'Muchas gracias.' They are just wonderful people."
The team was accompanied by several Baptist Salvadorians in their outreach.
"We probably had three or four different pastors tag along each day," Adrian said. "Mauricio set it up and it was a great way to develop friendships and encourage them in their ministries. That was very valuable to the trip."
To start off the trip, the group met with leaders of the Association of Baptists in El Salvador.
"We had such a warm welcome and a nice dinner and time of fellowship that first night," Adrian said. "I think that was a great way to get started with our mission trip in El Salvador."
Adrian said he believes the mission team accomplished what they set out to do in El Salvador.
"I think we were an overall encouragement to them," he said. "Now we just need to make sure and follow up and become more structured in the things we do. The ball is on our court to continue on and realize the ongoing goal in El Salvador."
Though he doesn't yet have any definite plans, Adrian intends to travel again to El Salvador sometime next spring.
"It was a very rewarding experience and I will continue to pray about the possibility of pastors throughout Missouri to put a trip to El Salvador on their schedule," the pastor said. "I've been on quite a number of missionary trips and this one was very hands-on. It was a tremendous trip. If pastors go, they won't be disappointed."
Kayla Rinker is a contributing writer to The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.