Since April, Guillermo Soriano has been praying and thinking about Crossover 2012 in New Orleans. Crossover, an evangelistic emphasis held each year prior to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting, is coordinated by local churches, associations and the North American Mission Board.
During Crossover churches engage in a variety of events, from backyard Bible clubs to block parties, all with the intent of sharing the gospel and reaching the community.
Soriano, multicultural evangelism consultant with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), came to New Orleans in April to help equip churches for the Crossover events. He trained churches in areas such as children’s evangelism and personal evangelism strategies.
The training included breakout sessions specifically for Hispanic pastors and leaders. Soriano returned to New Orleans last week to help with additional training for Hispanic leaders, and he continued his work with the Hispanic churches in New Orleans during Crossover.
“The greatest blessing has been to see churches revived in their personal commitment to evangelism. We hope this brings a new beginning to their churches, and into their lifestyle,” he said.
Even churches hesitant about participating were challenged to join the effort.
“Pastors came later, after the training, and said they were enthused about church members getting involved,” Soriano said.
Photo by Adam Miller
Maritza, left, and Guillermo Soriano make balloon animals for children at a block party in Metairie, La. The Sorianos, from Fairview Baptist Church in Cary, N.C., came to assist Eric Gonzalez, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Hispania Emmanuel. The event was part of Crossover 2012, an evangelistic outreach throughout metro New Orleans held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting June 19-20.
Churches from all across the country participated in Crossover and worked alongside pastors like Santos Gomez.
Gomez pastors La Vina Spanish Baptist Mission Church in Kenner. During Crossover his congregation hosted a block party, which proved a great opportunity for church members to practice being intentionally evangelistic.
“We were able to see the city through different eyes,” Gomez said. “It lit a fire for people who had been complacent.”
La Vina visited 186 homes in a door-to-door witnessing effort and saw 16 people pray to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Church members were also able to meet and connect with people in the community like never before.
David Rodriguez pastors a new Hispanic church plant in Chalmette. The church expects to soon hold its first worship service, and the block party the church hosted during Crossover helped them get acquainted with the area and the people.
“Crossover helped us refocus on evangelism, and it reunited us as a community,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of people were surprised we were there.”
That’s partly because there is no Southern Baptist work in this area.
Both Gomez and Rodriguez lived in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, and they have both stayed, praying for opportunities to continue impacting a city that needs the gospel. Although ministry is hard, they say the opportunity for expanding God’s Kingdom is great.
“We have even more motivation to preach the gospel,” Gomez said.
New Orleans pastors are grateful for Soriano’s willingness to invest in helping them reach their communities through Crossover. “This year we were much better connected. He helped bring us together,” Gomez said.
Don McCutcheon, BSC executive leader for evangelization, said he continues to hear about the impact of Soriano and his wife, Maritza, among the Hispanic community in New Orleans. “There is powerful synergy when they are working together,” he said.
North Carolina Baptists provided the direction for the community festivals hosted by Hispanic churches during Crossover, and “had a significant part in impacting lives for Christ,” McCutcheon said.
McCutcheon also participated in Crossover, and was involved in door-to-door witnessing with a local church. One area they visited had been completely wiped out during Hurricane Katrina, and the people are still trying to rebuild.
In this community he met a woman with three children who said she wanted to know God, but just didn’t know how. McCutcheon shared the gospel with her, and she responded in faith.
“God gives the harvest,” he said.