MOORE — Sam Porter is known as the director of disaster relief for Oklahoma Southern Baptists, but he also serves as leader of other partnership and volunteer mission efforts.
Porter said Oklahoma Baptists have always been mission-minded, with many willing to go on volunteer missions to aid disaster victims in places such as the East Coast and many other parts of the nation and the world.
Nevertheless, Porter told delegates Tuesday at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma's annual meeting, that he is having difficulty persuading Baptist churches to participate in mission trips in Mexico. Porter said people who would typically be willing to partner with Mexican church leaders are fearful of traveling to the country after seeing and hearing widespread media reports about drug-related violence in Mexico.
Porter said only six Oklahoma churches partnered with Mexican Baptist churches in the past year. He said Mexican church leaders have started more than 60 churches since January 2011 and are looking for church partners in the United States to help them reach more people in their country for Christ.
“They're going to do it without us, but I promise you there's a lot of churches that want to partner with us,” he said. “We need more churches who will say ‘If God calls me, I will go.'”
Porter said the violence in Mexico that is causing so much concern is between various drug cartels. He said there are few times that tourists or people on mission trips are affected by this brutality.
“As far as I know, everyone that we've sent to Mexico has come back,” Porter told delegates gathered at First Baptist Church of Moore, 301 NW 27.
Two church leaders, the Rev. Jimmy May of Trinity Baptist Church in Ardmore, and the Rev. Andy Peck with Bethel Baptist Church in Norman, said they each led mission trips to Acapulco, Mexico, in the past two years. The men told those gathered that their mission efforts were greatly appreciated by their Mexican partners.
Peck, associate pastor at Bethel Baptist, 1717 W Lindsey, said several members of his congregation have participated in the mission trips. He said many of the Mexican church leaders trained through Bethel Baptist's mission efforts now know how “to passionately share their faith.”
May, associate pastor at Trinity Baptist, said his congregation has partnered with a Mexican church that was struggling when the ministry relationship was formed.
He said that has changed. May said a vacation Bible school and basketball clinic was held recently, and about 70 people accepted Christ as a result. He said his church group held a baptism ceremony in a hotel swimming pool for the new Christians.
“Mexico is crying out; the fields are crying out,” May said, referring to Matthew 9:37.
“We felt very much safe while we were there.”
Meanwhile, delegates prayed for more mission partnerships to be formed with Mexico clergy and their growing churches.
Porter said he has scheduled eight medical mission trips to Mexico in 2013.
“I need some of you to join us on this,” he said.