Imagine an old bed, said Greg Mathis, senior pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville. After years of routine use, it becomes soft in the middle but firm on each end. The same is true of many Christians’ understanding of salvation.
“When it comes to initially getting saved – the idea of justification – most people are pretty firm on that,” he said. “When it comes to the end, and they die or when Jesus comes again – this whole thing of glorification – they want to be firm on that.
“Where most [people] struggle is in this day-to-day process of sanctification,” Mathis explained. That’s why he wrote Jesus is Mine: A 31 Day Devotional Guide to Understanding Salvation.
Mathis has taught evangelism at Fruitland Baptist Bible College for 35 years. It was through his experience as a professor that he realized the need for a resource that would help believers fully understand the doctrine of salvation. He structured it as a 30-day devotional, so readers could process a little bit each day.
One of the ministries at Mud Creek is a Spanish worship service led by Alberto Berrio. Less than one year after Jesus is Mine was published, Mathis decided to publish it in Spanish with the title Soy de Jesús. The combination of the large Hispanic population in his community and his experience with the Hispanic congregation at Mud Creek prompted him to raise the money needed to make the resource available to Spanish speakers.
“I realize that Christians differ on the issue of immigration, but to me, it’s not a political issue,” Mathis said. “It’s a gospel opportunity.”
He wanted something that would help disciple new Christians who speak only Spanish and that could be used by non-Spanish speakers as a witnessing tool.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 9 percent of North Carolina’s population is Hispanic, totaling around 900,000 people. That number is projected to increase more than 100 percent – 1 million people – by 2025, said Antonio Santos, Hispanic strategy coordinator for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
Most of them work service industry jobs in the metropolitan areas of Charlotte and Raleigh, but many are moving to more rural areas, Santos said. For example, 50 percent of Siler City’s residents are Hispanic.
People can effectively reach out by learning their culture, said Santos. “Talk to people. Understand their background, where they’re coming from.”
Churches can sponsor medical buses to meet the needs of those without insurance. For many undocumented immigrants, Santos said, this kind of tangible community outreach is highly valuable and opens opportunities to build trusting relationships.
Hispanics are “friendly and open, but the pressure of being undocumented is very heavy on them,” he added.
Guillermo Soriano, consultant for Hispanic evangelism and discipleship for the BSC, said offering ministries such as English classes should go beyond simply teaching a language. They should be an outlet for disciple-making.
“Too many times they might say, ‘Well, my English is not good.’ The other says, ‘Well, my Spanish is not good.’ With whatever little each one may know, there is a process of praying together and getting to know each other,” said Soriano. “That’s a key element for what happens in the future regarding evangelism and discipleship.”
Soriano emphasized that Soy de Jesús is a good resource to share through one-on-one discipleship.
While the book is not currently available in other languages, Mathis hopes it will be in the future. “It blows me away how many languages are spoken in North Carolina,” he said.
A four-week Sunday school study accompanying the original Jesus is Mine is available for download at mudcreekchurch.org. The free study is written in English.