Joaquin Martinez was ordained to the gospel ministry by First
in Ramseur on March 20.
That’s a one-line summary of what happened that day.
But here’s the rest of the story.
First, note the number of Hispanics in Ramseur and
surrounding Randolph County
has climbed steadily in recent decades.
Hispanic growth was one of the fastest in the nation during the 1990s, seeing
an almost 400 percent population growth. And Randolph
County’s Hispanic population grew
by more than 1,400 percent during the same period.
Some churches retreat or close down when communities change
After a time of reflection and prayer, First
leaders decided to reach out instead.
“Our community has more Hispanics now. We knew the church
should reflect the community. We prayed for guidance on how to reach out to our
community,” said John Fogarty, chairman of deacons.
As part of their searching, the First
Baptist ministry committee called on Guillermo Soriano,
consultant in multicultural evangelism with the Baptist State
Convention. Soriano counseled patience and prayer, promising God would
open doors for ministry when the time was right.
Soriano, himself a native of Honduras,
put the church in touch with Manuel Chacon, pastor of Roca
Eterna Baptist Church
in Dale City, Va.,
near Washington, D.C.
One of that church’s members, Joaquin Martinez, had just
moved back to Ramseur, and was feeling the Lord lead him to share the gospel
with Hispanics and start a new church.
“He had lived here before and wanted to move back to live.
He was looking for a place to get started,” Fogarty said.
Soon First Baptist had
endorsed the ministry of Martinez and later licensed him to the gospel
ministry. The church Martinez
is starting, also called Roca Eterna (Eternal Rock), has been growing slowly.
That growth was evident in the March 20
service: Immediately after being ordained, Martinez
stepped into the baptistry and baptized Alicia Rosales, a new believer.
Chacon brought a van full of his members from Virginia
to support Martinez and his new
ministry. “For us it is an amazing experience to see him ordained,
because God has been working both in the two churches in Virginia and North
Carolina and through the Baptist State Convention to bring it all together,”
He introduced Martinez
to the combined congregations of First
and the two Roca Eterna churches.
Ron Coleman, a minister and First
member, delivered the ordination sermon and presented the certificate of
ordination and a Bible to Martinez.
Guillermo Soriano delivered the charge to the churches, and
John Fogarty conducted the traditional ordination review of Martinez.
It was a big step forward for First
in reflecting the changing community around them as hoped for by Fogarty and
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