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NAMB honors Garay as Asian church planter
Mike Creswell, BSC Communications
March 24, 2010
5 MIN READ TIME

NAMB honors Garay as Asian church planter

NAMB honors Garay as Asian church planter
Mike Creswell, BSC Communications
March 24, 2010

ATLANTA, Ga. — Baptist State

Convention (BSC) staffer Ralph Garay has been named “Asian Church Planting

Missionary of the Year” by the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board

(NAMB) for his role in planting 25 new Asian churches across North Carolina

during 2009._ь_ь

Garay, Asian church planting

consultant with the Baptist State Convention, received the award during the

recent NAMB-sponsored 2010 Church Planting Missionary Forum. A native of the

Philippines, Garay earned a bachelor’s degree in theology from the Philippine

Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Anna Lynn, and their two

sons, Paulo and Philippe, immigrated to the United States in 1995. He was

pastor of a Filipino-American church in San Diego, Calif., for 11 years before

joining the Convention staff in

2006._ь_ь

As one of the Convention’s

five church planting consultants, Garay helps oversee the work of more than 40

Asian church planters who are in some phase of church planting as they partner

with the Convention, associations and local churches. His work centers on

visiting the planters as coach, trainer, teacher, cheerleader and

accountability agent._ь_ь

Photo by John Swain

Ralph Garay, center, Asian church planting consultant and a member of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina church planting staff since 2006, was named “Asian Church Planting Missionary of the Year” during the North American Mission Board’s 2010 Church Planting Missionary Forum in Atlanta Feb. 24-27. Presenting the award to Garay was Ken Weathersby, right, vice president-church planting for NAMB, and Van Kicklighter, left, NAMB’s church planting team leader for strategic planning and people groups.

“With 234 different language

groups now in North Carolina, Ralph’s strategic thinking ability is a valuable

asset to effective church planting in our state,” said Mark Gray, church

planting team leader. _ь_ь

The 25 new Asian churches

started during 2009 include about as many language/culture groups, reflecting

the fact that Asians are one of the fastest growing minorities in both the

United States and North Carolina. Asians make up one very diverse element in

the Convention’s church planting ministry, which started 98 new churches during

2009. _ь_ь

That equates to a new church

being started somewhere in the state every three or four days on average. North

Carolina Baptists support this ministry through their Cooperative Program

giving and gifts to the North Carolina Missions Offering. Some 150 church

planters and their support teams involved in planting new churches made more

than 176,000 evangelistic visits and led more than 2,300 people to faith in

Christ during 2009. The church planting ministry is one of the Convention’s

biggest and most successful evangelistic efforts; since more than 90 percent of

the churches started grow into self-supporting churches and will continue to

reach people for years, it is also one of the Convention’s most enduring ministries._ÑŒ_ÑŒ

Asians include many

language/culture/nationality backgrounds but also represent a wide range of

income and educational levels, Garay said. He said Asians in the state

include very poor refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar (formerly

Burma). Some Asians may operate hot dog stands or clean houses, he

said._ь_ь

“But not all Asians are

poor. For example, Asian Indians own and operate many of the hotels along North

Carolina interstate highways. Chinese or Koreans are often students or have

well-paying jobs in the Research Triangle Park. Filipinos often serve in

nursing or other parts of the medical field,” Garay

said._ь_ь

Asians have brought their

religions with them. Several Hindu temples now stand in Cary and Charlotte;

Buddhist centers are now open in Greensboro._ÑŒBut for Asians who accept Christ

as Savior, the differences in their lives can be immense and immediate. For

example, Hmong people from Laos try to buy farms so they can raise animals to

sacrifice, as a way to appease the animistic spirits who they believe might

otherwise bring illness or misfortune. Once they come to understand that Jesus

Christ is the ultimate high priest who sacrificed Himself for those who accept

Him, they are able to set down a very heavy spiritual

burden._ь_ь

Although he works out of the

Baptist State Convention office in Cary, Garay spends much of his week on the

road as he visits the widely scattered planters, driving some 30,000 miles a

year in the process. _ь_ь

Known for his soft-spoken,

understated demeanor and hard work, Garay is quick to credit the hard-working

church planters and their families, as well as fellow Convention staffers,

associational staffs and others involved.

“I received this award for

everyone involved,” he said._ÑŒ_ÑŒ

He marvels that God keeps

raising up new church planters from so many other countries here in North

Carolina.

“But we keep praying for the Lord of the Harvest to send them,

so we should not be surprised. We should anticipate that God will respond

and help us in His work,” Garay said.