×
AAEO Day 7 — Expanding God’s work in Puerto Rico
John Correa, North American Mission Board
March 13, 2010
7 MIN READ TIME

AAEO Day 7 — Expanding God’s work in Puerto Rico

AAEO Day 7 — Expanding God’s work in Puerto Rico
John Correa, North American Mission Board
March 13, 2010

At the onset of his

missionary career, pastor Luis Rodríguez and his wife, Lourdes Santiago, were

dismayed at the lack of commitment from church members at the church they’d

planted in Coamo, Puerto Rico. However, this apathy did not hamper the efforts

of these Southern Baptists. Besides, from God’s divine perspective, this was

only the beginning.

Luis remembers the

challenges faced during those uncertain days after being sent by the Raham

First Baptist Church of Santa Isabel to plant a new church in Coamo.

“When we arrived at

Raham-Coamo, we noticed the believers there didn’t really have a commitment to

come to the services,” said Rodriguez.

“When we were on our way to a prayer

service, they started calling to excuse themselves from coming to the

service. In that moment I turned and looked at my wife and wondered if our

efforts were really worth it. We began doubting if God was really involved.”

Photo by James Gregg

Missionary Luis Rodriguez, center, was among the teachers at Coamo Christian Academy recently leading some 40 students on a field trip. The Christian, bilingual school was founded by Rodriguez and his church planting team in Coamo. See video.

When Luis and Lourdes

arrived at the small church for the prayer service, only one other couple had

come to intercede for God’s work there — but a couple with a very special need.

“With great sorrow in our

hearts, we found brother Carlos Santiago and his wife, Andrea, who was kneeling

in prayer,” recalls Rodriguez. Andrea’s hair had fallen out due to the

chemotherapy she was undergoing to fight her cancer.

“I looked at my wife, she

looked at me, and the Lord spoke to my heart, saying, ‘For the love of that

solitary life I’m sending you to Coamo. It’s one life, one soul. Don’t worry

about the ones who made excuses and didn’t come.’”

Because of Andrea’s

commitment, Luis and Lourdes were motivated to press on with God’s challenge of

planting a church in Coamo. The result was the creation of the Raham Baptist Church

in Coamo.

The name of the church, “Raham,”

is the Hebrew word for “God has shown compassion.” This is precisely the

spiritual gift that continues to be one of the driving forces behind Rodriguez’s

work in Coamo.

Luis and Lourdes Rodriguez

are missionaries for the North American Mission Board (NAMB), responsible for

planting churches in Puerto Rico. They are two of the some 5,300 missionaries

in the United States, Canada and their territories supported by the Annie

Armstrong Easter Offering® for North American Missions, and are among the NAMB

missionaries featured as part of the annual Week of Prayer, March 7-14, 2010.

This year’s theme is “Live with Urgency: Share God’s Transforming Power.” The

2010 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering’s goal is $70 million, 100 percent of

which benefits missionaries like Rodriguez.

Luis, 46, was ordained as a

Southern Baptist pastor in 2001 by his local church at the time, Raham Baptist

Church of Santa Isabel. He came from a background in business, with a

concentration in accounting — working up to a vice president’s job at the

company where he worked for more than 20 years.

Since becoming a missionary

three years ago, he has completed coursework at Luther Rice Seminary in Puerto

Rico, and is planning to continue his studies at the Baptist Seminary of Puerto

Rico, through Liberty University.

“My decision to become a

missionary wasn’t an easy decision. I faced all sorts of difficulties,” Luis

says. “I quit a job with great benefits. Temptations came, uncertainty, good advice

and bad advice. But God, who is rich in mercy, sustained me. My wife’s support

was unconditional and awesome. I simply couldn’t resist what God wanted to do

with me.

“One day in a prayer meeting

I began asking God, ‘Lord, what do you want to do with me?’ After several

months went by without the slightest involvement in the ministry, without a

desire to continue pastoring, God sent us to Raham in Coamo, where, with a

group of 15 people, we planted a church.”

Photo by James Gregg

Luis Rodriguez and his wife, Lourdes, are North American Mission Board church planting missionaries serving in Coamo, Puerto Rico, a city of about 40,000 in the southern region of Puerto Rico. See video.

Although the most

predominant religious group in Puerto Rico is Roman Catholicism — about 85

percent of the population — the remaining 15 percent is made up various groups

like Southern Baptists, who impact the culture through schools and

universities, among other means.

Coamo is a city of approximately

39,500, located in the southern region of Puerto Rico. Three years ago, Luis

Rodríguez and his church planting team also started a bilingual, Christian

school — Coamo Christian Academy — to minister to local children and their

parents.

Coamo Christian Academy has

met with great approval in the community. Beginning with only four students in

2006, the school now has more than 40 enrolled.

Luis admits he couldn’t do

the work without the support of Southern Baptists.

“Contributions given to the

Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® support me as a missionary in the work we are

doing, and help us support the church to reach children and the parents who

participate in this ministry. To God be the glory!”

Adalberto Muñoz, a member of

Luis’ ministry team, spoke of Luis’ commitment and passion for the lost.

“When you talk to Luis and

see him carry out his duties, when you see the fruit this ministry is bearing,

there is no doubt that God really called Luis to serve in this capacity.

“Pastor Luis and members of

Raham Baptist Church in Coamo have a genuine calling from God to the ministry,

a sincere love for the Word, integrity, and commitment towards the community,”

said Munoz. “It’s a church that inspires a lot of love. You feel you are in a

wholesome environment full of love for God and for people.”

Commitment to prayer and

keeping God’s Word have also inspired door-to-door evangelism, prayer walks,

interactive team sports with non-Christians, radio talk shows, Bible studies in

neighboring towns and the capital, and other activities such as “One Night with

Christ,” during which sister churches interact to impact the Coamo community.

Rodriguez said his ministry’s

most pressing need is adequate facilities and more space.

“The current facilities aren’t

sufficient,” he says. “We have limited space, and if we don’t do something

about it soon, the growth of our ministry will be adversely affected.”

Luis and wife Lourdes are

the parents of three children, Victor, Luis and Lyanne Rodriguez Santiago.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Correa

is a writer living in Dacula, Ga.)

Related stories

AAEO Week of Prayer — Live With Urgency: Share God’s Transforming Power

AAEO Day 1: Mtn. Survivor now cowboy preacher

AAEO Day 2: Reaching students at Syracuse U.

AAEO Day 3: Multihousing as a mission

AAEO Day 4: Blazing an Appalachian Trail

Macon Assn. lends hand, heart

AAEO Day 5: Reaching a vast wilderness

AAEO Day 6: Reaching out in word and deed

AAEO Day 7: Expanding God’s work in Puerto Rico

AAEO Day 8: Winning souls in Arizona