The Convention strives to fulfill the vision that God has laid before us. Our Seven Pillars for Ministry identify the key concepts that guide our efforts. Increasing our work among international communities is one of the pillars. In the story I’m about to share, please notice the numerous ways that ministries of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) have touched the life of an individual and how God glorifies Himself through the life of this person.
Your support through the Cooperative Program and the N.C. Missions Offering made this worthy investment possible.
Jairo Contreras is a Hispanic pastor living near Forest City. Growing up in Colombia, South America, and working as a hotel chef, Contreras never thought he would end up in North Carolina as a church planter training other planters. In his early 20s, he received Jesus Christ as his Savior and served with Campus Crusade for Christ in South American countries for 10 years.
He moved to Miami, Fla., and then in 1993, he and his wife, Gloria, moved to Asheville, where he worked as a chef for Grove Park Inn. In 1995 Jairo enrolled in Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute (FBBI). He then earned his bachelor’s degree from Gardner-Webb University and will graduate in December with a master’s degree in pastoral care, also from Gardner-Webb.
While living in Asheville, Jairo worked with Merrimon Avenue Baptist Church to start the first Hispanic Baptist church in the area. Then, he began working with the BSC. With support from the BSC, Green River and Sandy Run associations, Pastor Contreras started the Cristo Vive Baptist church in Rutherfordton.
He has ministered among Hispanics in western North Carolina for 12 years. His toughest challenge remains helping those addicted to drugs and alcohol. Contreras is not intimidated because he’s been there. He knows all about their struggles. As he lives in a way that brings glory to Jesus Christ, God continues turning those in the Hispanic community to Himself.
When he first moved to the area, only five or six Hispanic families lived in Rutherfordton. Now, more than 3,000 Hispanics live in the county.
Contreras formed relationships with both the Hispanic community and Anglo communities and is respected in both. When a Hispanic family moves to town, people are quick to connect them with Contreras.
He established a one-year training program at Cristo Vive that is both theological and practical.
Cristo Vive disciples and involves every member in ministry.
This is a congregation that regularly has 12-15 church members attending classes at FBBI.
They have sent three pastors to start new churches and three more are almost ready to go. Each of these church planters were led to Jesus Christ upon meeting Contreras and coming to Cristo Vive. In addition to this work in his own community, Contreras maintains his passion for overseas mission work, having recently returned from a mission trip to Kenya.
This has been a worthy investment of mission dollars.