BIG SPRING—Community evangelism comes in all shapes and forms, but oftentimes begins with a simple conversation. For First Baptist Church in Big Spring, one small seed planted in a local Chinese restaurant has grown to form a much-needed ministry in the community.
When Sherry Lindsey moved to Big Spring six years ago, she felt compelled to visit the local Chinese restaurant and meet the waiters. After that initial conversation, the restaurant quickly became a hub for church members to connect with local Chinese and show Christ's love to them on a regular basis.
One waiter was able to study for the United States citizenship test with the assistance of a kind church member. A waitress was showered with gifts from a bridal party thrown by some ladies in the church. The restaurant windows have even received multiple fresh cleanings by the church youth group for service projects.
After four years of the church reaching out to the Chinese restaurant staff, the owner, Tony, began sending his children to church programs like Awana's. His wife, Joy, then began visiting Lindsey's women's Bible study, in hopes of making new friends.
A fellow Bible study participant, Angela Woolley, connected quickly with Joy and told her stories of Jesus through the book of Luke.
"It was really exciting to sit there and read the Bible and go through it with her because it made discipleship mean a lot more," Woolley said, "And that's how our relationship started."
Over and over again, divine appointments continued to open doors for Lindsey and church members to meet Chinese people, develop relationships with them, and invite them to church. After several years of establishing those roots, FBC Big Spring now has a Chinese Bible study comprised of many who claim the Buddhist faith but are on a path of asking questions and searching the Bible for answers.
"I'm not sure if they truly follow the Buddhist faith," Woolley said. "It's just what they knew, it was a part of their lives. They are really excited and open to what we have been telling them about the life of Jesus."
Last spring, Lindsey invited Stephen Lee, from ReaCHina in Midland, to join them in the ministry. He has been able to visit with the Chinese in Big Spring several times and agreed they are responding well to hearing the Gospel.
"To other people, they were just a business earning money. But Sherry and her team brought personal care," Lee said. "Together we are reaching them with the Gospel, praying for them, and asking God to grant wisdom to run the business in a biblical way."
Though the journey to build deep relationships with the Chinese has taken several years and no one has made a profession of faith, Lindsey and Lee both believe the church is being obedient in continuing to share the Gospel with them.
"When you immerse someone in love, you don't just sprinkle them with a good deed once in a while," Lindsey said. "You get to know them over time, which adds a lot better chance of developing roots in their lives."
Last year, FBC Big Spring participated in Texas Baptists community missionary training, which teaches church members to consciously think about how they can best meet, serve, and love people in their communities. These trainings encourage churches to recognize their neighborhoods as part of their mission field.
"The (community missionary) training is helpful in getting people to connect their own responsibilities to the Gospel," Lindsey said.