Bold outreach touches hurting in Allentown
A long line extended from the mobile baptismal tank through the parking lot. In the street, which was blocked to traffic, team members from City Limits A/G in Allentown, Pa., told visitors their testimonies. Live praise and worship music filled the air. The baptisms, fellowship and singing, according to Jim Rivera, pastor of the church, were part of a weeklong effort in June to share the message of Christ and instill the excitement of evangelism in his congregation.
"We wanted to involve our church in more than just an evangelistic event; we wanted to involve them in the process of soul winning," Rivera says. "When the congregation prays for the community, anointing and conviction, their hearts are set on fire for God."
On large maps, Rivera marked off 30 square blocks around the church. When the outreach began he deployed 35 teams of four to the edges of the 30-block area. There, teams spent time in prayer and planning before sweeping back to the church sharing the gospel, praying for the hurting and sick, and inviting listeners to church.
"We went into the streets armed with our testimonies and willing hearts," says Raymond Seidel, one of the team leaders. "We just wanted to be used the way God wanted to use us."
Drugs, poverty and crime plague the area surrounding the church, Rivera says, and that caused some team members concern. But many others, he says, were more afraid of being rejected as they shared their faith.
"Some who went out were scared at first," Rivera says. "But when we came back each night we could feel the unity and the presence of the Lord. This built momentum for evangelizing our city."
Throughout the week 141 people made decisions to accept Christ as their Savior, and 79 were baptized in water. Rivera is glad for that, but he is also happy that many in his congregation cant wait to tell others about Christ.
"We did this outreach to win our city for Christ," he says. "This process generated excitement in our church. Now it is time to follow up on these new believers."
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