Guarneri urges evangelism conference attendees to build bridges, bypass barriers in cross-cultural witnessing

by Texas Baptists Communications on January 25, 2024 in News

SAN ANTONIO–Julio Guarneri, Texas Baptists executive director, kicked off the Statewide Evangelism Conference Sunday evening at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio with a message on building bridges and bypassing barriers to share the gospel. Speaking from John 4, Guarneri told the story of Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman at the well.

“Jesus initiates a conversation with this woman, ignoring her race, her religion, her reputation, the cultural norm,” Guarneri said. “This is not an accidental encounter, it’s a divine appointment.”

“He knows that if he is going to reach her, he is going to have to remove several barriers,” he said.

In speaking to her, the woman identified barriers to conversing with Christ and to living a full life. But Jesus concentrated on her needs. He first asked for a drink. In doing so, he overcame those barriers and talked with her instead about living water.

With his actions and words, Guarneri noted, Christ communicated that he saw an individual, and he contextualized his message specifically to her needs. Then he revealed himself to redeem and restore her.

“A conversation about a cup of water between a Jewish man and a Samaritan woman who had been married five times and was now living with a man who was not her husband ends with the revelation of Jesus as the Messiah,” Guarneri said. “Jesus has removed every barrier and led her to a personal encounter with the Savior.”

“The moment her faith was applied to Christ, she was commissioned to share the good news,” he said.

“Christ commissioned the Samaritan woman to be a witness to her people. And Christ has commissioned you and me to love the people around us and share the message of Christ with them,” Guarneri said. “The nations have come to Texas, and they need Jesus.”

Pointing to the rapid growth of the state in population and diversity–the state grew by some 9 million people in the past twelve years–Guarneri noted the pressing need for cross-cultural ministry like what Jesus modeled at the well.

“The same Jesus whose cross-cultural commitment took him to encounter the Samaritan woman at the well calls us today to be intentional,” he said.

“We need disciples and churches that are committed to loving our neighbors. If we are going to claim Texas for Christ in the years to come, if we’re going to show the love of Jesus, we need commitment to be cross-cultural witnesses and cross-cultural churches.”

Visit Texas Baptists Playback podcast to listen to Guarneri’s session and others from the conference.

Texas Baptists is a movement of God’s people to share Christ and show love by strengthening churches and ministers, engaging culture and connecting the nations to Jesus.

The ministry of the convention is made possible by giving through the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, Mary Hill Davis Offering® for Texas Missions, Texas Baptists Worldwide and Texas Baptist Missions Foundation. Thank you for your faithful and generous support.

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