Helping and mentoring Hispanic fathers is Rafael Gutierrez‘ passion.
“Due to [Hispanic] culture and religious influence, the role of the father is seen only as protector and provider,” Gutierrez said. “There is a lack of verbal expressions of love from Hispanic fathers towards their children. Raising the children has been a duty left almost exclusively to mothers in Hispanic households.”
Gutierrez is director of Padre de Corazon, the Spanish-language arm of Abiding Fathers, a ministry to encourage and equip men for fatherhood. In his role, Gutierrez brings emotional and spiritual training to Hispanic fathers across the United States and in other countries like Cuba and Spain.
A Puerto Rico native, Gutierrez is a member of The Heights Baptist Church in Richardson, Texas. He became involved with Abiding Fathers Ministry after attending a conference in 2019.
Abiding Fathers founder Bill Dotson believes “the absentee father is the number one problem with life in America. Not just physically absent, but emotionally and spiritually.”
Gutierrez agreed with that analysis, and he believed the Abiding Fathers ministry was one Hispanic fathers could also benefit from. Working alongside Dotson, he translated the ministry material into Spanish and began holding workshops for Hispanic men.
Gutierrez said the workshops are relational and interactive. Afterward, fathers receive one-on-one discipleship from workshop leaders.
“We teach them what God laid out about the role of fathers in the Bible,” Gutierrez said, “because if they don’t know what their role is, then how can they fulfill it? Our mission is to glorify God by impacting men to understand and fulfill their role as father and leader in the home.”
The fathers who attend learn about praying with and for their children, biblical discipline, emotional vulnerability and more. It is not uncommon for the men to cry during the workshop, as they realize the mistakes they are making as a father are the same ones their fathers made with them.
“It’s very moving to see huge, manly men cry and be vulnerable for probably the first time in their lives,” Gutierrez said. “God started it with the first Adam; He assured it through the second Adam (Christ) and now He has called us as parents and grandparents to the front and center of His ranks to make our children and grandchildren disciples of Christ.
“This has been the call of God for my life. My response has been a firm ‘Here I am, send me.’ Since then, I have been … teaching men about their important and solemn calling to be a dad. Of being a father of heart.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Keila Diaz is Hispanic life correspondent for Baptist Press.)