CLEVELAND, Ga. (Christian Examiner) – When a group of Georgia college students headed to El Salvador to share the Gospel door-to-door and in the public schools, they had no way of knowing God's work in all their lives would be so powerful that 627 would end up being saved.
"My life is forever changed," said one collegian.
Twenty-one students – many from the women's soccer team – joined faculty and staff at Truett-McConnell College to reflect on their eight-day mission trip earlier this summer to the Central American Country where crime and violence are critically high.
There the team learned there was a yearning for something more.
"The people here had a desire for something real," said Brad Reynolds, Truett-McConnell's vice president for academic services. "Everyone was very receptive as we shared the Gospel door-to-door and in public schools."
Van Sanders, the school's associate professor of missions and evangelism at Truett agreed the people were receptive.
"Many of the Salvadorians we met were open to hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and many of them asked the Lord to be their Savior upon hearing the Gospel," Van Sanders said. "Such response to the Gospel accentuated the reality that God is at work among people and desires their salvation."
Partnering with Good News in Action, a missions organization which focuses on sharing the Gospel in Central America, and a local El Salvadorian church, Vida Nueva, TMC participated in evangelistic block parties and had the opportunity to speak to children and teens in local schools.
"The best part is that all of the individuals who were saved will be followed up by discipleship teams from Vida Nueva," Reynolds said. "They will be engrafted into small group discipleship programs where they will begin a three year program of discipleship."
In schools and parks
At the beginning of the week the Truett-McConnell team went into local schools where they connected with students through soccer, performed skits, and shared personal testimonies; in some schools they presented the Gospel and saw students saved.
Christina Charles, a sophomore, said the mission team divided into groups to go into classrooms and deliver a lesson on kindness.
"The translator gave the lesson, one of our group members shared a personal testimony of kindness, and then our group leader shared the Gospel," Charles said.
As the students used events in their personal lives to relate to the Salvadorian students, Sanders said many TMC students were convicted about their lack of tenacity in sharing the Gospel at home.
"Often in testifying about God's work in this area of their life, they would link application of this life transformation to people back home whom they knew needed to hear the Gospel," Sanders said. "It was obvious that God was working in all of us, wherever each of us were in our walk with God, to make us more like Christ and give us a greater concern for the eternal destiny of people."
In one particular school, the group was unable to ask if anyone accepted Christ after their presentation of the Gospel -- but they were given the opportunity to pass out Bible's and speak with several students.
"We had the opportunity to go around and talk with the girls about their lives and what they believed," said Holly Peppers, a junior.
Each night the teams split into small groups and went door-to-door evangelizing with a translator and invited community members to a block party at a local park.
As the group went door to door, Charles shared how the people of El Salvador had a hard time accepting the grace of the Gospel.
"Though most people claimed to know Jesus, we had to dig deeper because at the core of many of the Salvadorians beliefs was a good works mentality," Charles said.
Each night, the block parties brought in huge crowds of people, Reynolds shared. "We really had only 30 minutes of door-to-door sharing time and the outcome would be crowds consisting of 200 to 400 people."
With the help of missionaries and translators, those who came to the park were greeted with music, fun and engaging games, Gospel-centered skits and the Gospel message. Each night would close in prayer and dozens of hands would raise in declaration of their acceptance of Christ.
"Immediately, we would grab a translator and go out into the crowds as the hands rose," Reynolds said. "We would get their information, make sure they understood what they were saying and then give all of the information to the missionaries so they could follow up with them."
A passion to share
After seeing so many lives changed on the mission trip, Brooke Reed a senior, said God taught her many lessons.
"Throughout the beginning of this trip I felt useless. As the trip progressed, God reminded me there is no power in my words, but there is much power in His. As I'm obedient and share the Gospel with people who need to hear it, He will do the rest."
"I think personally for me," shared TMC junior Kayla Quigley "the most amazing part of the trip was stepping out of my comfort zone a lot further than I had originally planned. I wasn't just transparent with the El Salvadorians but with my peers on the trip as well."
Recent TMC alumnus, Meagan Taylor added: "Going out into communities twice a day sharing the Gospel to dozens of people who I could not even understand, at first seemed intimidating; but by doing so, I came to realize that the more obedient I was to share the Gospel, the more I developed a desire to do so. I was reminded on this trip that the power of the Gospel transcends cultural barriers and I was convicted of my lack of commitment to share my faith in my own culture and community no matter the inconvenience or rejection I may face."
"Seeing our students share the Gospel and the excitement they had watching people get saved was one of the best parts of the trip," Reynolds said.
"We simply need to be willing to lovingly and boldly share the Gospel with the people whom He puts in our daily paths," Sanders said. "Since returning, I have tried to share the Gospel more intentionally with those I have encountered."
For more info on Good News in Action, or to learn how you can be involved, visit www.goodnewsinaction.org.
Truett-McConnell College is affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention. This story is based on a news release.