With salsa dancing & discipleship, grateful Christian lives for Jesus
Jan 2, 2014
By BP STAFF

SEVILLE, Spain (BP)—Abraham Rios, age 29, has a full day ahead of him. He has a discipleship meeting, an English conversation club and a Bible study to plan. He also agreed to lead a salsa dancing class for a friend. In between these events, he is studying for a final exam to receive an advanced biology degree.

Today, Rios lives with purpose, knowing that God is at work in and around him. But he remembers when life felt empty and confusing, and he’s grateful to Christians who pointed him toward Jesus.

Rios was a university student in Seville, Spain, in 2009, when he met these Southern Baptists. Raised Catholic in tradition only, Rios was searching for answers to life.

ENGLISH PRACTICE Abraham (center) and other Connexxion leaders hold informal English practice groups at local cafes. Though he complains about his own English, Abrahams willing to practice what he knows and help others learn. Students and professionals participate in the casual discussions. IMB photo
“At that time, I was looking for something in my life, because I am a curious person that needs to understand the meaning of things. That is why I became a biologist, to understand the world around me,” he recalls. “I want­ed to know more things that can’t be easily explained through formulas or empiricism.”

So Rios says it was perfect timing when a group of students from the U.S. asked him to fill out a survey on how he would describe God. They showed him a selection of photographs and asked him to choose which ones represented who God was to him.

Intrigued by the concept, Rios chose the vast landscape of a mountain and a sunset on a beach “because if there was something I sensed about God, … it was that He was … something incomprehensible and immense that at the same time is beautiful.”

One of the volunteers posing those survey questions was Katherine Gidley from Big Sandy Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Ala. She was part of an International World Changers (IWC) team in Seville for two weeks to assist a campus ministry called Connexxion started by IMB missionary Martha Moore from Tampa, Fla.

LIFELONG FRIENDS Missionary Martha Moore met Abraham when he began attending Bible discussion groups and Connexxion events. IMB photo
Gidley and the IWC team turned in their survey response cards to Yasmin Vila Limo, a Hands On student missionary from Oklahoma serving alongside Moore for a semester in Seville.

Accustomed to not receiving a response to her follow-up inquiries from the surveys, Limo was surprised when Rios wanted to ask her questions about God. 

Limo, a Spanish speaker native to Peru, was able to answer Abraham’s questions directly without need of a translator. Their discussion lasted two hours.

“He said, ‘I know there is more to this religion than what I’ve been taught,’” Limo recalls. She invited him to a Connexxion event.

When Rios met Moore, the missionary recalls thinking: This young man is ready for answers.

INVITATION Hendrik von Niessen hangs an invitation to a Connexxion event on a university sign. Hendrik, from Germany, led the Seville Connexxion team for two years, but has recently passed on the leadership to Abraham. IMB photo
“He was a people magnet who would invite other people to our group, even though he was still seeking,” Moore says.

Rios began to study Scripture and attend a church plant. Since becoming a believer in Christ, he has been a strong advocate for Connexxion, wanting to point others toward Jesus as the Southern Baptist students and missionaries did for him.

Rios has served as a leader on the Seville Connexxion team, working with Limo, who returned to Seville in 2013 as a journeyman (two-year) missionary. In October 2013, Rios moved to Brazil for an internship in biology. He looks forward to sharing his faith in another culture. Limo now leads the Connexxion team.

“I am very grateful for those people that talked to me about God,” Rios says. “It is not a simple thank you that comes out of my mind. It is something that really connects with my spirit.”

Hearing about the transformation in Rios’ life kickstarted by the IWC team approaching him is “validation that you never know what will happen with that one encounter,” says Gidley. “To come to know the impact that was made that day on Abraham is unimaginable.”

FAITHFUL MAN Abraham says those who shared Christ with him helped him understand what he was searching for. IMB photo
To learn more about the Connexxion ministry, visit ConnexxionEurope.wordpress.com. Go to imbstudents.org to find out more about IWC and Hands On service opportunities.

Moore is serving in Europe through Southern Baptists’ gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Cooperative Program, which fund the presence and missions outreach of nearly 5,000 Southern Baptist missionaries internationally. Give to the offering through your local Southern Baptist church or online at imb.org/offering, where there are resources for church leaders to promote the offering.

See how others are being Totally His … heart, hands, voice at totallyhis.imbresources.org. Add your story and join the journey.

 

You must be login before you can leave a comment. Click here to Register if you are a new user.