Band members from the award-winning Newsboys and executives from Christian radio station KLove set aside their guitars and traded in their ties for hammers and paintbrushes as they joined in the effort Friday to build homes and minister to the shanty-town citizens in Baja, Mexico.
Hundreds of volunteers from churches across the nation and from as far away as New Zealand have been united by Calif.-based Baja Christian Ministries (BCM) for an effort to build 21 homes, a church inside a Mexican prison, and to evangelize local citizens during a period of ten days from May 19 to 28.
"When they see Americans coming down giving up their money, their time, their love and their resources – it is very much a shining light," said Bob Sanders, BCM founder, to The Christian Post on Thursday. "It really helps us break ground in the hearts of the people that are seeing the Gospel in the face and eyes of the workers. So when we communicate the Gospel, they are wide open."
Although home building is a major focus of the mission trip, volunteers will also help evangelize and disciple alongside pastors while in Baja. BCM evangelism methods include open air preaching and music ministries, puppet performances and mime evangelism drama, door-to-door evangelism, "Jesus" film showings, conducting Vacation Bible Schools for local children, and distributing Bibles along with Spanish Gospel pamphlets.
The ministry has even started evangelizing in a local prison. Last Sunday, BCM built its first church/community center inside Ensenada prison and reported that hundreds of discipleship books were given to one of its staff pastors who is currently ministering to inmates.
The 10-day building blitz will culminate with the BCM Annual Fundraising Banquet to take place at the Spirit of the West Coast Christian Music Festival in Del Mar, Calif., on Saturday. Newsboys lead singer Peter Furler will be the guest speaker at the banquet.
Other Christian groups that have worked with BCM include World Impact, Malibu Press, GlobalTribe, and Teen Mania Ron Luce's Global Expeditions.
In the summer of 2005, Global Expeditions brought 1,000 teens to build 26 homes in one week in Baja, Mexico. This year, the group plans to return again to build 20 homes.
Some churches that helped build the 21 homes this year included Mariner's Church in Irvine, Calif.; Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa, Calif.; Malibu Presbyterian Church in Malibu, Calif.; and Grace Presbyterian Church in Plano, Texas.
Baja Christian Ministry was founded in 1992 by Bob Sanders who had been ministering to the poor in Mexico since 1984. The Christian organization is dedicated to serving the physical and spiritual needs of the impoverished in Mexico in the name of Jesus Christ. BCM has provided over 1,000 homes to families in greater Tijuana, Mexico.