Luter lauds Hispanic churches for vitality, leading by example

June 27 2013 by David Raul Lema Jr., Baptist Press

HOUSTON – Hispanics not only belong in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) but “they are here to stay,” SBC President Fred Luter said at “Avance Hispano 2013” held in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting in Houston.

LifeWay Christian Resources, the International Mission Board, GuideStone Financial Resources and the North American Mission Board hosted the missional advance dinner June 9 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

“The Hispanic fellowship is critical, and our [Hispanic] churches are critical, to what we are doing in the life of the Southern Baptist Convention,” said Luter, who was translated by Joshua del Risco, the North American Mission Board’s director for Hispanic evangelism.

Photo by Van Payne
SBC President Fred Luter speaks to the Avance Hispano gathering June 9 in Houston. Joshua Del Risco, who provided translation, is in the background. Del Risco is the North American Mission Board’s Hispanic evangelism director.

Luter declared that “our Hispanic churches are the churches that are growing the most in the Southern Baptist Convention.” He also thanked attendees “for the impact that you are making on the Kingdom of God.” 

Stating that the Southern Baptist Convention needs a revival, Luter said he wanted to use the Hispanic churches as an example for other churches to model.

“All of us go through difficult times in life and in ministry,” Luter said. “Because the Hispanic churches are doing so well, the enemy will try to do his best to come against us. But you got to hold on and hold out and understand that if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.”

Gus Reyes, Hispanic ministries consultant for the Baptist General Convention of Texas and a member of the Evangelical Table on Immigration, led in a time of intercessory prayer for those involved in the proposed immigration reforms.

Reyes asked attendees to stand if they knew someone who needed intercession before God due to an immigration issue. In response, nearly everyone present was on their feet.

Angel Luis Angel Diaz-Pabon, the editor of the newly released “Biblia del Pescador,” also attended the meeting. The Bible version is an evangelistic and apologetic tool that will soon be translated into English and other languages.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Raul Lema Jr. is associate team strategist for theological education ministries at the Florida Baptist Convention. See SBC 2013 for more about the annual meeting.)
6/27/2013 11:30:55 AM by David Raul Lema Jr., Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Group prays for the nation at SBC

June 27 2013 by David Raul Lema Jr., Baptist Press

HOUSTON – A 45-minute season of prayer for the U.S. highlighted the annual convocation of the Hispanic National Fellowship of Southern Baptist Churches in Houston.

J. Antonio Gamiochipi, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista of Alief, and members of the Houston-area church hosted the event June 10 at Alief, which provided both a meal and worship service.

Augusto Valverde, pastor of Iglesia Un Nuevo Amanecer in Miami, led the prayer time that has been a tradition for the Hispanic fellowship at every Southern Baptist Convention. The congregation prayed in small groups using a “Concert of Prayer” format prevalent in many Spanish-speaking churches.

Photo by Fernando Marquez
Members of the Hispanic Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention pray together at a dinner June 10 at the Houston-area Primera Iglesia Bautista de Alief.  

Attendees addressed specific needs of the U.S. as a leader presented the prayer themes, which included family, churches, education, government, armed forces and unity, and the groups then prayed for various matters in each theme.

Nelson Daniel Venturini, pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Restauracion in Houston and a professional family counselor, preached about the Christian family and the challenges it faces in the present culture. Venturini based his message on a code for family construction which he uses as a family therapy tool. Using 15 concepts for building a strong and healthy family, Venturini challenged attendees to build a strong family. The code and other information can be accessed at

Mateo Ariza Sosa, a member of the Primera Iglesia Bautista of Alief, said “it was impressive to see the beauty of God in the prayers, the songs and the teaching.” The convocation was the first time Sosa, a newly converted believer, had participated in this event.

Representatives from the North American Mission Board, the International Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources and GuideStone Financial Resources were present to answer questions and provide available resources in Spanish. Attendees also received a copy of the Spanish translation of the book Radical by Alabama pastor David Platt as a gift from LifeWay en Español.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Raul Lema, Jr. is associate team strategist for theological education ministries at the Florida Baptist Convention. See SBC 2013 for more about the annual meeting.)
6/27/2013 11:26:29 AM by David Raul Lema Jr., Baptist Press | with 0 comments

400 gather to pray for Kingdom advance

June 27 2013 by David Raul Lema Jr., Baptist Press

HOUSTON – About 400 Hispanic leaders and church members gathered for the Spanish “Revive Us,” or “Avívanos,” worship celebration in conjunction with this year’s Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Houston.

Coalo Zamorano, minister of music in the Hispanic ministries of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, led the worship service that concluded the “Avance Hispano SBC 2013” gathering at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Zamorano has worked since 1986 with composer and worship pastor Marcos Witt and CanZion Productions.

Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board (IMB), challenged the group with four concepts from the Bible.

The first concept Elliff noted was “the uncertainty of this world and the time of the second coming. … [W]e need to work hard for the night is coming. We have very little time.”

Elliff’s second involved “the necessity. It is very important to be filled with the Spirit. We need revival in this land.”

The third concept Elliff relayed was “the reaction. We will go and share the Word with others,” while the final concept Elliff shared was “the notion of extremity. Jesus said ‘your witness will carry you to the ends of the earth.’

“Folks, it is time to get the job done,” Elliff said, after citing several examples of churches on mission. “There are 3,000 people groups that do not have a single witness.

“My prayer,” Elliff continued, “is that this will begin a new day in the relationship between the IMB and the Hispanic Baptists. My hope is that in the coming years we will see hundreds of Hispanics going as witnesses to the ends of the earth.”

Jason Carlisle, IMB Hispanic mobilization director and translator for Elliff, noted that “the IMB recently committed itself to sending 40 Hispanic missionaries in the coming year.”

Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), recapped the Send: North America strategy that Southern Baptists are using to impact North America through evangelism and church planting. Joshua del Risco, Hispanic evangelism director for NAMB, translated for Ezell.

“I want to share from my heart about North America,” Ezell stated. “The population is growing exponentially faster than we are planting churches.” 

Ezell said NAMB has set a goal “of planting 15,000 churches in the next 10 years.” 

Ezell also asked attendees to make the prayer of Luke 10:2 their own, as he challenged them to join NAMB’s nationwide effort to pray daily at 10:02 a.m. and p.m. and “ask God for the next generation of missionaries.” He asked participants to specifically set apart Wednesday, Oct. 2 to pray and fast for this request.

Gerardo Custodio, who planted Iglesia La Familia de Dios in Ontario, Calif., also was one of the featured speakers. With Custodio as pastor, the church has planted six new churches since its inception in 1995.

Custodio’s message was based on the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:22. He shared examples of the work that God is doing in Ontario, Calif., and the importance of all Christians to use the gifts God has given them.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Raul Lema Jr. is associate team strategist for theological education ministries at the Florida Baptist Convention. See SBC 2013 for more about the annual meeting.)
6/27/2013 11:21:41 AM by David Raul Lema Jr., Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Hispanic leaders train for ‘missional advance’

June 17 2013 by David Raul Lema Jr., Baptist Press

HOUSTON – More than 200 Hispanic Southern Baptist leaders converged in Houston for “Avance Hispano 2013” for missional training in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The International Mission Board (IMB), North American Mission Board (NAMB), LifeWay Christian Resources and GuideStone Financial Resources presented five workshops in Spanish for Hispanic leaders June 9 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Participants were challenged from different perspectives of the Christian mission. From the local work inside the church, outside the church and across the world, participants chose learning experiences that helped expand their vision and work.

NAMB presented a workshop on “Demonstrating the Love of Christ in Your Community.” Joshua del Risco, director of Hispanic evangelism at NAMB, coordinated the event and Ricardo Vera, a multiethnic evangelism specialist at the California Southern Baptist Convention, was the guest speaker. Vera, a church planting veteran, shared ways a Hispanic church can become a key ministry agent in its community.

The IMB presented a workshop on “Pastors and Planters without Frontiers.” Jason Carlisle, director of Hispanic mobilization at the IMB, was the coordinator for the training and Guillermo Mangieri of the IMB was the guest speaker.

The IMB also presented a workshop for Hispanic women called a “Tea for Prayer” led by Fanny Mangieri. She is the coordinator of the Intercessory Prayer Network “Viajando de Rodillas” with the IMB and the wife of Guillermo Mangieri.

Photo by Van Payne
Luis Lopez, left, director of LifeWay Español church partnerships, speaks with Fred Luter, center, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Joshua Del Risco, right, who translated for Luter when he spoke during the Hispanic Advance Celebration June 9 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. The event was part of the “Avance Hispano” held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting at the same location June 11-12. 

Dressed in traditional female Muslim garb, Mangieri led women through the social ritual of a traditional tea ceremony. As she explained the Muslim culture and how Muslim women dress and live, she told how to present the gospel in that context.

After enjoying the tea and desserts, the women were led in a time of prayer for Muslim women around the world and for the light of the gospel to reach them. The goal of the training, Mangieri said, was “to take a peek inside the life of a Muslim woman.”

One of the women participants, who asked not to be identified because of her missionary travels, said “the experience was spiritually impressive in the unique way in which we were taught to pray, share tea and share Christ with Muslim women.”

More information about the prayer network in Spanish is available by contacting Mangieri at

LifeWay sponsored a training workshop for leaders focusing on marriage counseling. Luis Lopez, director of LifeWay en Espanol, was the coordinator.

The workshop, “Marriage Out of Danger,” was led by author Leonardo Guerrero, who recently published a book by the same title. Guerrero, pastor of the Hispanic ministry at Fuquay Varina Baptist Church in North Carolina and a marriage and family counselor, noted the dark areas of marriage today: pornography, spousal and child abuse and infidelity.

GuideStone hosted a seminar for pastors and leaders on preparation for missional mobilization through retirement planning. Miguel Perez, GuideStone’s representative for Hispanics, led the workshop. According to Perez, “most Hispanic pastors do not seriously prepare for retirement and as a result many find themselves unable to stop working or nearly destitute during their senior years.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Raul Lema, Jr. is associate team strategist for theological education ministries at the Florida Baptist Convention. See SBC 2013 for more about the annual meeting.)
6/17/2013 5:00:51 PM by David Raul Lema Jr., Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Evangelical leaders hopeful after immigration talk with Obama

March 13 2013 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – Evangelical Christian leaders, including a Southern Baptist, left a White House meeting with President Obama encouraged at the hope for immigration reform this year.

Southern Baptist public policy specialist Barrett Duke and Hispanic evangelicals were among 14 religious leaders who met with Obama and senior staff March 8 to discuss the effort to remedy what is widely acknowledged as an immigration system badly in need of repair. The current system has resulted in the illegal presence of an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

He was “very encouraged” by the meeting, said Duke, who added Obama “spoke clearly about his desire to see us achieve passage of legislation this year.”

“While many details remain to be worked out, the big pieces are in place. Secure borders, workplace enforcement, legal status for undocumented immigrants who qualify, and a citizenship process for those who desire to be U.S. citizens are all within reach,” said Duke, vice president for public policy and research of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).


SXG photo by Ben Shafer

The “big pieces” cited by Duke are components in the kind of reform the ERLC and other members of the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) have called for and heard echoed by Obama in the meeting. In written statements released through the EIT, Duke and others who are part of the new coalition of evangelical leaders responded positively to what the president said.

The meeting “invigorated me with hope and optimism,” Samuel Rodriguez said.

“The president’s resolve,” along with evangelical support, offers “the prescription for a comprehensive resolution” to the problem, said the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

“The collective commitment to incorporate a pathway to citizenship as an integral part of any legislative solution secures a complete integration process,” Rodriguez said. “Both the president and faith leaders understand that citizenship must be earned, yet denying it will create a two-tier society attempting to live one dream: the American dream.”

Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, described the meeting as “a clarion sign for Latino Evangelicals that immigration reform is possible.”

Latino evangelicals “stand committed to see this through in ways that provide an earned path to citizenship while addressing any security concerns,” he said in a written statement.

Obama told the religious leaders he was committed to working with Congress in a bipartisan fashion for immigration reform, the White House said in a written release. He pointed to the progress being made by a bipartisan group of senators but encouraged the meeting participants to continue their efforts. The president also thanked them for their work on the issue, according to the release.

The religious leaders thanked Obama for his leadership on the issue and prayed with him, the White House reported.

The meeting came as Congress is seeking to address the immigration issue in a serious fashion for the first time since 2007. Four Republicans – led by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida – and four Democrats in the Senate have proposed a plan for broad reform.

Supporters of immigration reform have warned there is only a narrow window of opportunity for passage in this two-year, congressional session, which closes at the end of 2014. ERLC President Richard Land has predicted approval must happen by the Fourth of July or Labor Day.

Other participants in the meeting with Obama, according to the White House, were Leith Anderson, president, National Association of Evangelicals; Stephan Bauman, president, World Relief; Minerva Carcano, United Methodist Church bishop, Los Angeles; Luis Cortes, president, Esperanza; Orlando Findlayter, senior pastor, New Hope Christian Fellowship in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Jose Gomez, Roman Catholic archbishop, Los Angeles; Mark Hetfield, president, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society; Kathryn Lohre, president, National Council of Churches; Mohamed Magid, president, Islamic Society of North America; Dieter Uchtdorf, second counselor, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and Jim Wallis, president, Sojourners.

The proposal by Rubio and the other senators would require undocumented immigrants to register with the government – as well as pass a background check and pay back taxes and a fine – to gain “probationary legal status.” All enforcement provisions must be final before an immigrant on probation can earn a green card and apply for citizenship years later. A commission, which includes governors and attorneys general from Southwestern border states, must make a recommendation about when the security prerequisites are met.

Immigrants on probation will not be able to receive federal benefits and must go to the back of the line for all immigrants, undergo another background check, learn English and civics, and prove they have a history of employment and a current job to seek permanent residency.

Messengers to the 2011 Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, Ariz., approved a resolution on immigration reform that called for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus while pursuing justice and compassion. The measure urged the government to make a priority of border security and holding businesses accountable in their hiring. It also requested public officials establish after securing the borders “a just and compassionate path to legal status, with appropriate restitutionary measures, for those undocumented immigrants already living in our country.” It specified the resolution was not to be interpreted as supporting amnesty.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)
3/13/2013 4:08:43 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Barcelo honored for service to Hispanic leaders

December 18 2012 by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications

When Aldo Barcelo joined Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute (FBBI) as the school’s first director of Hispanic Theological Training in 2009, few options existed for North Carolina Hispanic pastors and students who desired a theological education in Spanish.

BSC photo by Buddy Overman

Antonio Santos, right, and Larry Phillips, center, present an award to Aldo Barcelo for his service at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute.

Barcelo helped establish FBBI regional satellite campuses in Winston-Salem, Statesville and Wilmington. The satellite campuses are specifically designed to provide easier access to quality theological training and education to Hispanic pastors, students and laypersons.
Barcelo, who recently announced that he will leave his position at FBBI to assume a pastorate responsibility in his native Chile, was honored for his work among Hispanic churches during the Hispanic Conference and Banquet held in conjunction with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) annual meeting in Greensboro.
“We honored Aldo with a plaque as a way to thank him for his years of service as a pastor and as the director of the Hispanic program at Fruitland,” said Antonio Santos, BSC senior consultant for Hispanic ministry. “His role was critical in connecting Hispanic pastors, church planters and lay leaders to have access to theological education.”
As many North Carolina Hispanic pastors are bivocational and have little formal theological training, the satellite campuses provide an invaluable service to Hispanic church leaders.
“Aldo provided that education, and because of the satellite campuses he has made it much easier for Hispanic pastors from all over the state to gain access to that education,” Santos said. “He will absolutely be missed.”
FBBI president David Horton said Barcelo was instrumental in the design and implementation of the Hispanic satellite campuses, and his contribution to North Carolina Baptists and Hispanic churches will last for generations to come.
“Dr. Barcelo has greatly expanded ministerial training for Hispanic students by adding satellite campuses in strategic locations in North Carolina. He will be missed by all of us at Fruitland,” Horton said.
FBBI has named Robert Fernandez as the new director of Hispanic Theological Education. Fernandez has been an instructor at FBBI since 2007. He is a pastor of Casa De Dios church, a church plant sponsored by Bethel Baptist Church in Canton, N.C.
He is also pastor of El Centro del Senor church in Cullowhee, N.C. Fernandez was born in Cuba but his family moved to Tampa, Fla., where he was raised. A FBBI graduate himself, Fernandez values the training opportunities FBBI provides for church leaders. Horton believes Fernandez will have great success directing FBBI’s efforts to provide high quality theological education to Hispanic students.
“We are very excited about the future for Hispanic ministerial training at Fruitland,” Horton said.
12/18/2012 1:57:43 PM by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

New Hispanic generations to be conf. topic

December 14 2012 by Tobin Perry, Baptist Press

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Although Southern Baptists have a long history of reaching and starting churches among Hispanics, changing demographics will require a new strategy, a North American Mission Board (NAMB) evangelism consultant has noted.

“The majority of the growth in the Hispanic population is coming from second and third generations,” said Joshua Del Risco, evangelism coordinator for the mission board’s God’s Plan for Sharing nationwide outreach. “That presents a whole new set of challenges because if there’s an area that we’ve struggled to reach as a convention, it’s second and third generations.”

NAMB photo by John Swain

Joshual Del Risco, North American Mission Board’s evangelism coordinator for God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS), is assisting preparations for the National Hispanic Evangelism & Mobilization Conference, Jan. 17-19, 2013. The conference will be hosted at Parkhills Baptist Church in San Antonio. The event is being held in partnership with NAMB, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas.

Del Risco is among the organizers of the National Hispanic Evangelism & Mobilization Conference, Jan. 17-19 in San Antonio, that will focus on key challenges in outreach to Hispanics.

According to a Pew Research Center report in 2009, 9 of 10 Hispanic children had been born in the United States – and that number was growing. Overall, U.S. Census stats show that Hispanics in the country grew by a rate four times faster than the U.S. population between 2000-2010.

Historically, Del Risco noted, Southern Baptists have started most churches among Hispanics born outside of the United States. The number of Hispanic SBC churches grew by more than 65 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to Annual Church Profile statistics provide by LifeWay Christian Resources.

What makes reaching second and third generation Hispanics a challenge is both language and culture, said Del Risco, who came to the United States from Cuba at age 5. Many second and third generation Hispanics aren’t fluent in Spanish, making the gospel inaccessible in traditional Spanish-language churches.

From a cultural standpoint, many have grown up in a Hispanic home and with Hispanic culture but they identify much more than their parents with the broader American culture, Del Risco said.

“Many second and third generation Hispanics will attend Anglo congregations because of the language issue,” Del Risco said. “But they don’t find the cultural identity there that they’re looking for. So they’ll also visit off and on a Spanish-speaking congregation but never plug in.”

Eloy Rodriquez, who recently planted his third Hispanic Southern Baptist congregation in Florida, underscored another major challenge – the diversity of Hispanics. While many Anglos think of Hispanics as a single block, they come from many nationalities.

“We are so diverse,” said Rodriquez, who was born in the United States but lived from ages 1 to 18 in the Dominican Republic. “Any location where you try to plant a Hispanic church, you’ve got to figure out what kind of Hispanics are there. It changes completely how you’re going to reach them – whether they come from Central America, the Caribbean or South America. They are different in their identities.”

Each of Rodriquez’s three church plants had a different makeup of nationalities. About half of the attendees at his current plant, a part of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla., come from Columbia.

Del Risco said NAMB’s upcoming National Hispanic Evangelism & Mobilization Conference will address these and other issues, noting that the conference will focus on helping first generation Hispanic churches understand and reach its members’ children and grandchildren.

The Jan. 17-19 conference also will include, along with the main Spanish-language track, an English-language track. Del Risco said the English track is mainly for Hispanic church leaders trying to reach English-speaking Hispanics in either a multi-cultural or predominantly Hispanic setting.

Because the ministry contexts of those serving among first and second generations Hispanics are so different, Del Risco said the content for the conference will be different in the two tracks.

The conference will include such sessions as “Send North America Overview,” “Growing an Evangelistic Church,” “House Church Models for Church Planting” and “Churches Planting Churches Training.”

“It’s Kingdom focused,” Del Risco said. “It’s the only one of its kind with the diversity of people that’ll attend. Our hope is that it helps Hispanic leaders reach Hispanics. But it’s about more than just reaching Hispanics. We believe that Hispanics will be mobilized to reach others in North America – regardless of ethnicity – and people around the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The conference will be held at Parkhills Baptist Church in San Antonio in partnership with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas.

For registration information, click here.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board.)
12/14/2012 2:24:16 PM by Tobin Perry, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

N.C. Baptists help impact Hispanic outreach during Crossover

June 26 2012 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

Since April, Guillermo Soriano has been praying and thinking about Crossover 2012 in New Orleans. Crossover, an evangelistic emphasis held each year prior to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting, is coordinated by local churches, associations and the North American Mission Board.
During Crossover churches engage in a variety of events, from backyard Bible clubs to block parties, all with the intent of sharing the gospel and reaching the community.
Soriano, multicultural evangelism consultant with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), came to New Orleans in April to help equip churches for the Crossover events. He trained churches in areas such as children’s evangelism and personal evangelism strategies.
The training included breakout sessions specifically for Hispanic pastors and leaders. Soriano returned to New Orleans last week to help with additional training for Hispanic leaders, and he continued his work with the Hispanic churches in New Orleans during Crossover.
“The greatest blessing has been to see churches revived in their personal commitment to evangelism. We hope this brings a new beginning to their churches, and into their lifestyle,” he said.
Even churches hesitant about participating were challenged to join the effort.
“Pastors came later, after the training, and said they were enthused about church members getting involved,” Soriano said.

Photo by Adam Miller

Maritza, left, and Guillermo Soriano make balloon animals for children at a block party in Metairie, La. The Sorianos, from Fairview Baptist Church in Cary, N.C., came to assist Eric Gonzalez, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Hispania Emmanuel. The event was part of Crossover 2012, an evangelistic outreach throughout metro New Orleans held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting June 19-20.

Churches from all across the country participated in Crossover and worked alongside pastors like Santos Gomez.
Gomez pastors La Vina Spanish Baptist Mission Church in Kenner. During Crossover his congregation hosted a block party, which proved a great opportunity for church members to practice being intentionally evangelistic.
“We were able to see the city through different eyes,” Gomez said. “It lit a fire for people who had been complacent.”
La Vina visited 186 homes in a door-to-door witnessing effort and saw 16 people pray to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Church members were also able to meet and connect with people in the community like never before.
David Rodriguez pastors a new Hispanic church plant in Chalmette. The church expects to soon hold its first worship service, and the block party the church hosted during Crossover helped them get acquainted with the area and the people.
“Crossover helped us refocus on evangelism, and it reunited us as a community,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of people were surprised we were there.”  
That’s partly because there is no Southern Baptist work in this area.
Both Gomez and Rodriguez lived in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, and they have both stayed, praying for opportunities to continue impacting a city that needs the gospel. Although ministry is hard, they say the opportunity for expanding God’s Kingdom is great.
“We have even more motivation to preach the gospel,” Gomez said.
New Orleans pastors are grateful for Soriano’s willingness to invest in helping them reach their communities through Crossover. “This year we were much better connected. He helped bring us together,” Gomez said.
Don McCutcheon, BSC executive leader for evangelization, said he continues to hear about the impact of Soriano and his wife, Maritza, among the Hispanic community in New Orleans. “There is powerful synergy when they are working together,” he said.
North Carolina Baptists provided the direction for the community festivals hosted by Hispanic churches during Crossover, and “had a significant part in impacting lives for Christ,” McCutcheon said.
McCutcheon also participated in Crossover, and was involved in door-to-door witnessing with a local church. One area they visited had been completely wiped out during Hurricane Katrina, and the people are still trying to rebuild.
In this community he met a woman with three children who said she wanted to know God, but just didn’t know how. McCutcheon shared the gospel with her, and she responded in faith.
“God gives the harvest,” he said.
6/26/2012 12:58:19 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Hispanic leaders mobilize for Send N. America

April 18 2012 by Baptist Press

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – The North American Mission Board (NAMB) hosted its annual national Hispanic evangelism and mobilization conference March 15-17 in Atlanta.

The meeting, which attracted more than 250 Hispanic church leaders in its sixth year, is now named the Send North America National Hispanic Evangelism and Mobilization Conference in conjunction with NAMB’s unfolding church-planting initiative.
Conference organizer Joshua Del Risco, national coordinator for NAMB’s church mobilization team, said pastors and other convention leaders were enthusiastic participants.

Photo by John Swain

The North American Mission Board hosted its Send North America National Hispanic Evangelism and Mobilization Conference March 15-17 in Atlanta. More than 250 Hispanic leaders, including pastors and church planters, participated.

“Numerically the conference was a success,” Del Risco said. “We surpassed our goal for participation; we surpassed our goal for Send North America registration; but more than that, we saw connections and networking among pastors and convention staff from across the continent.”

Conference presentations, sessions and discussions focused on reaching the 50.5 million-plus Hispanics in the United States and the 400,000 Hispanics in Canada – in particular, reaching the second and third generations.

In addition to NAMB, the International Mission Board and LifeWay Christian Resources also participated in the conference.

The opening session began with a special viewing of the Spanish-language edition of the “Courageous” film. Following the film, attendees participated in a time of commitment and prayer.

Several pastors and convention leaders were among the conference speakers, including Rudy Gonzalez, dean of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s William R. Marshall Center for Theological Studies, and Gus Reyes, director of the Hispanic education initiative/affinity ministries for the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

“During the meeting we identified 34 Hispanic church planting centers across the convention and initiated a Hispanic church planting center network,” Del Risco said. “It is evident that Hispanic leaders are eager to continue to impact lostness in North America.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by the communications staff of the North American Mission Board.)
4/18/2012 2:05:33 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Hispanic Advisory Council holds first meeting

March 15 2012 by Baptist Press

FORT WORTH, Texas – The effectiveness of cell groups in reaching Hispanics, the need for quality discipleship materials in Spanish and family pressures experienced by Hispanic believers were among the topics discussed at the first meeting of the Hispanic Advisory Council on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

Facilitated by co-chairman Bob Sena of Atlanta, members discussed with Executive Committee President Frank S. Page ways in which God is moving among the Hispanic communities they represent – Mexican, Cuban, European, South American, Central American, Caribbean, first generation immigrants and native-born Americans. The council was appointed by Page following the September 2011 Executive Committee meeting.

SBC Life photo

Bob Sena, standing, of Georgia facilitated the inaugural meeting of the Hispanic Advisory Council appointed by Frank Page, far right, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee.

Among the “best practices” for Hispanic ministry, several council members representing various regions of the country – Jonathan Santiago from upstate New York, Frank Moreno from Florida and Fermín Whittaker from California, as well as Salomón Orellana from New York City and Jorge Meléndez from Chicago – pointed to the effectiveness of cell groups in evangelism and discipleship. In addition to the cost efficiencies of meeting in homes, Luis López of Tennessee credited the natural hospitality that is part of the Hispanic culture as a major factor for Hispanic church growth through cell groups.

The council also discussed the greatest community needs Hispanics face. Members agreed that the foremost need is for quality educational opportunities, including access to inexpensive ministerial training. Yolanda Calderón of California pointed to high rates of domestic violence, often the result of unemployment or underemployment, while Orellana added that rehabilitation services are a great need in the urban setting where he lives and works. Jason Carlisle of Virginia noted the high incidence in human trafficking and highlighted fears many Hispanics have over current U.S. immigration policies. Elías Bracamonte of Kansas noted that though many immigrants are in the United States legally, the presence of family members who are in the country illegally produces tension, conflict, instability in family life and even feelings of guilt.

In addressing congregational needs, Gus Suárez of Missouri pointed to the need for quality discipleship materials written in Spanish. Pedro Avilés of Puerto Rico noted that many Hispanics face family pressures and even persecution when they receive Jesus Christ and desire to be baptized as believers.

Roger “Sing” Oldham, EC vice president of convention communications and relations, gave the council an overview of how churches can embrace a cooperative relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention. He also reviewed the ethnic study committee report adopted by the SBC in June 2011.

Co-chairs Daniel Sánchez of Texas and Sena provided an open forum with Page under the heading, “If there is one question you would want to ask the Executive Committee, what would it be?” Moreno thanked Page for setting up the weekend meeting, saying, “We have your ear and your heart.” While most questions centered on such topics as “How do you see us moving forward from here?” and “How do we retain our identity as Baptists?” Santiago asked Page and Oldham, “How can we pray for you personally?” Dividing into two groups, the council gathered around them and spent time in concentrated prayer for the EC leaders.

At the close of the Feb. 3-4 meeting, each member was asked to gather information from specific groups in the Hispanic Baptist community. The input will be forwarded to Sena and Sánchez, who will then communicate with Page and Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, through Oldham and Ken Weathersby, NAMB presidential ambassador for ethnic church relations.

Members participating included Daniel Sánchez, associate dean of Southwestern Seminary's Roy Fish School of evangelism and missions, director of the Scarborough Institute of Church Growth and professor of missions; Bob Sena, Hispanic evangelist, conference leader and retired NAMB church planting consultant; Pedro Avilés, director of evangelism, Puerto Rico Baptist Convention; Elías Bracamonte, pastor, Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida, Topeka, Kansas, and president, National Hispanic Baptist Fellowship; Jason Carlisle, director of Hispanic mobilization, IMB; Yolanda Calderón, writer and conference speaker, California director of ConPaz, a ministry of restoration for women, and former recording secretary with national WMU; Luis López, director, Lifeway International & Espanol; Jorge Meléndez, Hispanic church planting strategist, Illinois Baptist State Association; Frank Moreno, director, language division, Florida Baptist Convention; Salomón Orellana, pastor, Iglesia Bautista El Buen Pastor, Hempstead, N.Y., and Iglesia Bautista Luz De Las Nacion, Hempstead, N.Y., and president of the New York/New Jersey Hispanic Baptist Association; Jonathan Santiago, associate director of student evangelism, Baptist Convention of New York; Gus Suárez, professor of church planting at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, director of the seminary's Center for North American Missions and Church Planting and director of the Hispanic doctor of ministry program; and Fermín Whittaker, executive director-treasurer, California Southern Baptist Convention.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reprinted from SBC Life, journal of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

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