Winter break used for border ministry

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Mission trips are nothing new to Joe Ballard, pastor of First Baptist Church-Troup. Though only at First Baptist since September 2017, he and other church members have already completed a mission trip to help with the Vacation Bible School held by Primera Iglesia Bautista in Piedras Negras which is just across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass.

The trip was directed by CrossVision, a non-profit organization which, according to its website, “assists and enables the local church to do what Christ has called her to do, send out missionaries into a lost and dying world, and in the process, become better disciples themselves.”

The trip required two days of travel, one each way, with three days working with the church in Mexico and was taken during the school’s winter break. Due to the language barrier, CrossVision supplies interpreters on the trips, according to Ballard.

The First Baptist team, which consisted of seven teens, one child and eight adults, assisted with the Bible school by providing crafts and refreshments as well as leading games. They participated in street evangelism as well, using evangecubes which are manipulative cubes that depict the gospel message in pictures. The team was able to encourage local church workers and others mission workers through corporate worship times and personal testimonies.

“It’s incredible when you’ve been out doing the work of the Lord all day, and you’ve been seeing God work and then you come together for worship,” said Ballard. “Whoever wants to get up and give testimony about what God did that day, they’re able to just encourage everyone else through their testimonies.”

The specific trips are chosen by evaluating available trips from a trusted organization, through a lot of prayer and by discovering where people have expressed an interest to go and invest, reported Ballard.

“I love Mexico and it could be because they are just so receptive,” Ballard commented.

Ballard also believes that there are positive benefits not only for the people they go to help, but for the members of the mission team as well.

“It always, I think, has a more profound effect on those of us who go than on those who are there,” Ballard mused. “It gives us a greater appreciation for what we have as far as our possessions. It also lets us know that what we have is not necessarily what brings us joy because we met people over there who didn’t have much who had some joy in their lives.”

“You can call them mission trips if you want to but they’re also discipleship trips,” Ballard continued.”We want this to be a lifestyle. We don’t want it to just be a place that we go but we want mission to be a lifestyle here at home. I think sometimes churches are afraid you’re going to be one-sided, like you’ll be all foreign mission trip minded and not be mindful of the missions here. But, we want to do both. We want to have a balance in what we do.”

Though Ballard stated the church is not yet planning their next trip, he did have information on hand concerning mission opportunities in May and October.

“God blesses obedience and He said go. We ought to be a going church. Whether it’s going across the town or going across the street or whether it’s going to another country, we all want to be the church on the go,” Ballard concluded. “This is why Jesus saved us, to tell people the good news.”

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