Rio Grande Valley Pastors Encouraged to Return to the Heart of the Gospel

The Summit de Evangelismo series kicked off over the weekend in McAllen, Texas. More than 500 pastors and local church leaders attended, eager to share the Gospel with a world that desperately needs hope.

Churches in the Rio Grande Valley, the southernmost part of Texas, are going through a difficult time. Pastors estimate that in this region populated mostly by Hispanics, only 5% attend church regularly. Many others, pastors are noticing, have a negative view of church.

The church leaders here want to reach their communities for Jesus Christ—but they feel ill equipped.

On Saturday, hundreds gathered at Vital Church in McAllen for intensive evangelism training.

“The Summit de Evangelismo responds to the need expressed by local pastors and leaders that there is a tremendous thirst to rekindle the fire of evangelism,” said Chris Swanson, vice president of Hispanic Initiatives at BGEA. “There has to be a call for the church to wake up and reach out to all those who desperately need Jesus.”

Inspired by the Schools of Evangelism that Billy Graham started in the 1960s, the Summit de Evangelismo training reminds pastors that the main calling of the church is to preach that salvation is found only in the cross of Christ.

“There is no Gospel without the cross, and this is a message that may no longer be popular in our days,” said Eli Bonilla Jr., one of the speakers. A youth leader and author, Bonilla grew up in the United States with Dominican and Mexican parents. He represents the fourth generation of evangelists in his family.

“This is a Gospel of the death of the flesh, of being willing to give one’s life to proclaim the Good News,” he said. “Christ did not call us to comfort. He called us to carry a cross because we know our hope is secured in eternity.”

Saturday’s message deeply touched the hearts of church leaders like Jonathan and Brenda Guerrero.

Aware of their need for training, these siblings arrived from Tamaulipas, Mexico, with the first rays of morning light to attend the summit.

“The word preached here awakens you to the great need out there to evangelise and disciple believers by preaching the truth,” Jonathan said. “We can no longer preach a watered-down Gospel or a prosperity gospel. The only thing that transforms lives is the truth.”

Another attendee, Eduardo Limo, took notes throughout the day.

“What the Billy Graham [Evangelistic] Association is doing to call pastors to unity is much needed,” said Limo, pastor of a Hispanic church in McAllen. “Only with unity can we grow the kingdom of God, working together to develop strategies to reach people of all ages here in South Texas.

“I hope that all this passion we see here will be contagious and all of us pastors and leaders will take it with us, not only in our hearts, but also to share it with our churches.”

Please pray for church leaders to be encouraged in their calling at upcoming summits in Phoenix, El Paso, and San Diego this month.