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Evaluating children’s Bible study curriculum pg. 8

Breathing through new lungs and celebrating new life pg. 10

Issue No. 1

Respirar con pulmones nuevos y celebrar vida nueva pg. 13

How to avoid leading through loneliness pg. 24

SHAREABLE STORIES, TRANSFORMED LIVES. Take 60 seconds every week to share the story of missionaries and ministries you support across Texas and around the world through the Cooperative Program. Learn more about this free resource at





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PUBLICATION TEAM GET TO KNOW YOUR AREA REPRESENTATIVE: CHARLES DAVENPORT Get an inside look at Charles Davenport’s work as an Area Representative serving in the Panhandle.

EVALUATING CHILDREN’S BIBLE STUDY CURRICULUM reschool and Children’s Discipleship Specialist Diane Lane shares P important features to consider when selecting curriculum for your children’s ministry.

BREATHING THROUGH NEW LUNGS AND CELEBRATING NEW LIFE eventeen-year-old Victoria Lopez is breathing through new lungs and S serving the Lord with a renewed passion following her double lung transplant in 2018.


Joshua Seth Minatrea, Director of Communications Kalie Lowrie, News Director Jeremy Honea, Art Director Tex Grubbs, Graphic Designer Maritza Solano, Production Artist Jordan Parker, Multimedia Specialist Brittany Thomas, Communications Assistant

You are receiving a free copy of Texas Baptists Life because of your generous support of the Cooperative Program. To subscribe or update your subscription preferences, call 214.828.5232 or email

ictoria López, de 17 años, está respirando con sus pulmones nuevos V y sirviendo al Señor con una pasión renovada después de su trasplante de pulmón doble en el 2018.

HOW CHRISTIANS CAN STAY ENGAGED BEYOND THE ELECTION athryn Freeman, director of Public Policy, shares insights on the 86th K Texas Legislative Session and how you can communicate with your elected off icials.

MEETING NEEDS ALONG THE BORDER or more than 50 years, Texas Baptists have served along the border F by responding to physical and spiritual needs, and the ministry opportunities continue to expand.

pg. 10


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PASTOR TO PASTOR: SPIRITUAL HEALTH PRACTICES everal Texas Baptists pastors share their personal spiritual health S practices and the importance of remaining in a close relationship with God while leading a local church.

pg. 16

SECRET’S OUT: PASTORS OFTEN FACE FINANCIAL CHALLENGES he Center for Ministerial Excellence provides f inancial assistance, T resources and encouragement to ministers facing f inancial hardships.

HOW TO AVOID LEADING THROUGH LONELINESS irector of Counseling Services Katie Swafford shares steps ministers D can take to f ight loneliness.

IMPROVING THE HEALTH OF THOSE IN OUR COMMUNITIES he Family Community Health program at Baylor Scott & White Health T connects patients in need with local churches to provide support during diff icult times.

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calling at ETBU

East Texas Baptist University educates students by integrating biblical faith and learning to develop mind, body, and soul through community engagement to prepare graduates to be Christian servant leaders in their calling to God and humanity. The University’s commitment to academic excellence is advanced by outstanding faculty, who teach through the paradigm of a Christian worldview. ETBU offers 43 undergraduate and 11 graduate programs, with the convenience of online courses to provide an accessible and affordable Christ-centered education for all students.






seriously. In 2018, this office assisted 70 ministers with financial assistance and offered six financial seminars, with more to come in 2019.

HELLO, TEXAS BAPTISTS! I once heard an adage that said, "If you have a healthy minister, the chances of having a healthy church are greatly improved. And a healthy church improves the chances of enjoying a healthy community." I realize this statement is not always accurate, but I also believe there could be something to it. With that in mind, this edition of our Texas Baptists Life is all about healthy ministers. What do you think of when you hear the word “health”? For me, and probably for most, I think of physical health. My own personal health story began more than 25 years ago when, thanks to a "thoughtful" member of my church, I realized I was overweight and out of shape. I soon began a diet and exercise program and have been able to maintain a more healthy lifestyle since. However, much more is involved in being a healthy minister than just physical fitness and well-being. There is financial, mental/emotional and, certainly, spiritual health. The Baptist General Convention of Texas is uniquely positioned to address all of these areas on behalf of and for the sake of our Texas Baptists ministers. I'm so very grateful for the ministry of our own Dr. Katie Swafford who leads our Counseling Services Office. In 2018, her office assisted 2,200 ministers in the area of mental/emotional and relational well-being. I'm also grateful for the ministry of Tammy Tijerina, director of the Center for Ministerial Excellence. Thanks to a generous gift from the Lilly Foundation, her office is able to provide emergency financial assistance, as well as Financial planning and management seminars all across Texas. Ministerial health is an issue Texas Baptists take

This past September, the BGCT was very blessed with a generous gift of $1 million from our partner the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio for the purpose of addressing the collective health needs of church leaders in Bexar County and the seven contiguous counties around it. We are very excited about the opportunities that will come through this partnership. Thank you, Texas Baptists, for making all of this possible. Being in the ministry has never been easy and I tend to believe that the challenges facing today's ministers are greater than ever. I'm grateful to be a part of a Convention of churches that loves and cares for ministers.

¡HOLA, BAUTISTAS DE TEXAS! Una vez escuché un dicho que decía algo como lo siguiente: “Si tiene un ministro saludable, las probabilidades de tener una iglesia saludable aumentan. Y, una iglesia saludable aumenta las probabilidades de disfrutar de una comunidad saludable”. Entiendo que este dicho no siempre es cierto, pero también creo que tiene algo de cierto. Con eso en mente, esta edición de nuestra revista se trata acerca de ministros saludables. ¿Qué le viene a la mente cuando escucha la palabra salud? Para mí, y probablemente para la mayoría, yo pienso en salud física. Mi “historia de salud” personal comenzó hace 25 años cuando, gracias a un miembro de la iglesia “cortés”, me di cuenta de que estaba sobrepeso y fuera de forma. Pronto comencé un programa de dieta y ejercicio y he podido mantener un estilo de vida más saludable desde entonces. Sin embargo, se requiere mucho más para ser un ministro saludable que simplemente aptitud y bienestar físicos. Hay económica, mental/emocional, y desde luego, salud espiritual. La Convención Bautista General de Texas está en la posición única de tratar con

todas estas áreas a nombre y por el bien de nuestros pastores y miembros del personal ministerial Bautista de Texas. Estoy muy agradecido por el ministerio de nuestra propia Dra. Katie Swafford quien dirige nuestra Oficina de Consejería. En el 2018, su oficina ayudó 2,200 en el área de bienestar mental/emocional y relacional. Estoy agradecido por el ministerio de Tammy Tijerina quien dirige la obra de nuestro Centro para la Excelencia Ministerial. Gracias a una generosa subvención de la Fundación Lilly, su oficina puede proveer ayuda económica de emergencia, así como seminarios de Planificación Financiera y administración por todo el estado de Texas. La salud de los ministros es un asunto que los Bautistas de Texas toman muy en serio. En el 2018 esta oficina ayudó a 70 ministros con ayuda económica y ofreció seis seminarios de finanzas. Hay más por venir en el 2019. Este pasado septiembre, la Convención Bautista General de Texas recibió la bendición de una donación de un millón de dólares de la Fundación Bautista para la Salud en San Antonio con el propósito de tratar las necesidades de salud de los líderes de iglesias en el Condado de Bexar y siete condados contiguos a su alrededor. Estamos muy emocionados acerca de las oportunidades que resultarán de esta colaboración y su donación. Gracias, Bautistas de Texas, por hacer todo esto posible. Estar en el ministerio nunca ha sido fácil. Y, tiendo a creer que los desafíos que enfrentan los ministros de hoy día son más grandes que nunca. Estoy agradecido de ser parte de una Convención de iglesias que ama y cuida ministros. B L E S S I N G S A N D B EN D I C I O N E S ,




2018 AT A GLANCE Diana Montalvo is a student in the UT-RGV Brownsville BSM.

Pastor Savann Kruoch from First Cambodian Baptist Church in Abilene.

Heisell and her daughters live in Lima, Peru.







presented to churches and pastors for Hurricane Harvey Church Building Recovery & Pastor Housing

connections made with Texas Baptists churches and associations through the Connections Team

nations impacted through the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering

students reached on college campuses across Texas in 2017–2018



lives transformed through the work of the Missions Team

church leaders equipped in Evangelism, Discipleship, Music & Worship

65 2,923

churches planted

professions of faith through new church starts


Area Representative Service Area 1

Charles and Valoise Davenport

Every other Wednesday, Area Representative Charles Davenport gathers with pastors at a local restaurant in Amarillo for breakfast. During their time together, the group talks about life, family, ministry, struggles, joys and everything in between. As an Amarillo-native and a vocational minister for more than 50 years, Charles knows the ins-and-outs of ministry in the Panhandle and enjoys the time of fellowship with the local pastors. He also frequently attends other pastor gatherings across his region stretching from Vernon to Lubbock, Abilene to Possum Kingdom. While he covers a large area, which requires a lot of driving, and many of his colleagues have embraced retirement, Charles cannot seem to stop ministering to ministers. Every week, Charles is contacted by churches for help with resources, direction and assistance in crises—

ranging from minor to major. Sometimes the job involves caring for a pastor who has walked through a personal tragedy. One pastor he currently meets with lost his son to suicide two years ago. When the crisis occurred, the pastor asked Charles to preach at his son’s funeral, and for many months following, Charles met with him and his wife to encourage and support them during a very difficult time. Charles’ ministry began at a country church in Dawn, Texas, after he graduated from West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University). He served as pastor for six years before moving to East Texas to attend seminary at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He held pastorates in Corsicana and Claude, Texas, and Tucumcari, New Mexico, before moving back to the panhandle. For 31 years, he served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Tulia.

Most Sundays, you can find Charles preaching in a different church in his area. In his 12 years serving as an area representative, he has intentionally remained flexible on Sunday mornings to respond to churches and pastors with special needs. His greatest joy serving in this job is the opportunity to help pastors and point them in the right direction. From providing information on financial assistance to pastors in need, to guiding pastorless churches through a time of transition, Charles is grateful for the opportunity to serve West Texas churches. Texas Baptists have nine area representatives serving around the state to connect with our churches. To find your area representative, visit connections or call 214.887.5475.



By Dr. Diane Lane, Preschool and Children’s Specialist

On a typical Sunday, the minister is meeting new people coming to the church, checking on Bible Study classes, and ensuring all teachers have supplies needed to teach. But, do ministers know the reason why their teachers are teaching their curriculum? Is the curriculum being taught, best for them or is it what they have taught in the past?



Teachers are actually building and solidifying the spiritual foundation of preschoolers and children at church. Teachers are modeling how to “just make it through” Bible Study—or they are modeling what it means to be a Christ­-follower by giving value to the child, by engaging in conversation and making necessary connections to each family.

Why is there a disconnect with a teacher’s preparation of Bible Study and the church’s expectation of class involvement? Teachers might not know how to teach children and they do not understand how the curriculum is designed to be the guide to equip children spiritually.

Curriculum is a guide to teaching. It should include the following features:

BIBLES Bible use can begin with babies! Holding the baby and the Bible and allowing the baby to touch and pat the Bible teaches the Bible is real and important. Three-yearolds through sixth graders are learning the Books of the Bible and using Bibles to locate the passages studied. These are essential Bible skills and practices. There should be personal application as related to Bible passages. Applying the passages to personal situations demonstrates the relevance of scripture to life in today’s situations. For teachers, curriculum should include explanations of what the Bible passage means, as well as teaching tips on how to make the passages come alive for children. If you visit a church and the preschool and children’s areas do not have Bibles that are actively being used—run to the next church!

should be authentic, trustworthy, and real. Teachers are making connections with the children on how this passage has changed their personal lives and how God is active in their lives this week. The teacher is teaching this in order for the child to know that the passages relates to them today. Just like it pertained to Joseph as he was learning humility and dependence on God while he was sitting in jail, we are learning humility and total dependence on God while we are going through challenging times.

• Our spiritual foundation is knowing God. (Isaiah 40:8) • God created the world. (Gen. 1:1) • God created everyone. (Gen. 1:27) • Jesus is God’s only Son. (John 3:16) • We desire a personal relationship with God. (John 15:13) • Jesus is the only way to eternal life. (John 14:6) If the curriculum being used is not clear on these basic topics, it is time to study and evaluate other publishers.

AUTHENTIC LEARNING Preschoolers and children recognize when things are not real. At church, everything preschoolers and children participate in

GUIDED CONVERSATION AND CRITICAL THINKING Teachers are also asking questions which make children think critically. Our children should be encouraged to solve problems. When many are faced with a challenge, they do not know what do we. We are going to equip them to think about solutions for their own lives and how they can rely on God to help them through tough situations. Wise teachers are asking the following questions: How can you relate to Joseph (or the main person in the passage)? Tell me about 3 important portions of this passage. Tell me about 2 Biblical truths that you are going to remember.

DOCTRINE SOUND Teachers should know what they believe Biblically and teach toward that. This needs to match what the church believes. Some of our basic beliefs are:

important portion of the Bible passage and talking about how this will impact their lives this week. This is much more fun and exciting than just listening to someone talk!

Turn to your neighbor and decide how this passage relates to you. Teachers should not confuse preschoolers by having fantasy story books and fantasy pictures in the rooms at church. (Easter bunny or Santa Claus) For example, books, where animals are talking, should not be in the room. If teachers are teaching absolute truth and we are reading stories that have animals talking, we are creating conflict within the child. Animals do not talk (except Balaam’s donkey, found in Numbers 22:21-39. But that is a children’s story—not a preschooler’s story!)

VARIETY OF LEARNING METHODS Many churches have preschoolers and children who love to come to church and they are learning through multi-sensory methods. Any typical Bible Study time, children will be drawing, role-playing the Bible passage, singing songs, looking up passages in their Bibles, participating in Bible games, explaining the most

What are you going to do in order to depend on God to help you through this situation? Choosing literature reflects the educa­ tional and philosophical beliefs of your church. Through prayer, understanding the needs and characteristics of the learner, and making sure the doctrines of the church are emphasized, literature can be chosen that meets these standards. For a guide on learning how to evaluate curriculum, download this free pamphlet. For more information, please contact Dr. Diane Lane, Preschool and Children’s Specialist on the Great Commission Team, at or 214.828.5287.



By Kalie Lowrie, News Director




ictoria Lopez was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic lung disease. She was diagnosed with CF at eight months old. Doctors told her parents, Derek and Griselda, their daughter was very sick but they would do everything possible to help bring the Lopez’s baby home.

Due to the nature of the progressive disease, as Victoria grew older, Derek and Griselda knew a lung transplant might be necessary. On September 20, 2017, it was confirmed that Victoria would need a lung transplant and she was given two months to decide if she wanted to undergo the surgery. On her 16th birthday, November 13, Victoria decided she wanted a lung transplant, and she was admitted into the hospital. By March of 2018, the disease had progressed significantly. Victoria was admitted to Medical City Children’s hospital in Dallas on March 6, and within a couple of days had a massive coughing attack which required her admittance into the ICU. One week later, she was transferred to Baylor Scott & White Hospital for close observation and access to maximum oxygen. After enduring three days of extensive transplant evaluation, Victoria was placed at the top of the lung transplant list in Dallas for both pediatric patients and adults.

me that I was always smiling and happy, even when I was so sick,” Victoria said. “I told them it doesn’t come from me, it comes from God. We had peace knowing He was in control.”

Griselda’s phone rang. It was the phone call they had been praying about for seven weeks. “We have lungs for Victoria,” the doctor said. “How soon can you be at the hospital?”

Congreso students and leaders prayed fervently for Victoria—for God to provide lungs for her ailing body. Her testimony was inspiring to many students in the audience, as she shared about her strong faith in the Lord, despite very difficult circumstances.

Within two hours, the family was at the hospital. Victoria remembered watching “Father of the Bride” with her family while technicians took blood, ran tests and prepared her for surgery. “Once my parents and sister were out of sight, I was alone, and I began praying for all the doctors that were going to work on me and that my life afterward would be everything that I hoped it to be,” she said.

At midnight, Victoria went into the operating room. Within three hours, the lungs arrived at the hospital. Seven hours later, her surgery was complete and Victoria had two new lungs. Gabrielle, Victoria Although there and Griselda was much rejoicing at Lopez pray during the completion of her surCongreso 2018. gery, the Lopez’s learned that Victoria had complications in surgery, because of The Lopez family returned back to Dallas how sick she had been. She was placed on on April 28 and Victoria was readmitted two life-support systems. into the hospital after running a fever.


Her family prayed and waited for God to intercede. On May 7, Victoria went through a re-evaluation for the transplant list, and the doctors told her family she was doing better and would be moved down on the list.

On April 6, Victoria was briefly released from the hospital on continuous oxygen. Three weeks later, she was invited to go to Congreso, Texas Baptists' Hispanic Evangelism Rally for students, to share her testimony with the crowd of more than 3,000 Hispanic students at Baylor University’s Ferrell Center in Waco.

At that point, Victoria’s mother Griselda did not know how to pray. “Do I pray for my daughter to get sick so she could move up the transplant list? I pray for her to get better, but continue to have her moved down the list? Do I pray for someone else to die so Victoria could have lungs and live? I was so confused,” she recalled.

Victoria shared how the disease brought her family closer together and closer to God. “People at school would always tell

That night, Griselda just prayed for God to move and for His will to be done. The next day, on her way home from work,

THE LONG ROAD TO RECOVERY For the next three weeks, Victoria was in ICU on a breathing tube. When she awoke from surgery, she was in extreme pain. She suffered panic attacks and bouts with depression. “When people would come to visit, I didn’t really talk, I would just sleep,” Victoria said. “I also had awful anxiety and anxiety attacks. I couldn’t be left alone or I would start to freak out.” Victoria also struggled in her faith. She doubted God’s goodness as she suffered extreme pain and hardship. A surgery that was intended to make her better had seemingly made her life more difficult. Why would God allow this to happen? FEBRUARY 2019


As she wrestled with hard questions, Victoria continued to cry out to the Lord. After being released from the ICU, Victoria still had to spend time in rehabilitation. She had to learn how to breathe through her new lungs and how to walk again after being bed-bound for so long. She also went through speech and occupational therapy. On June 26, approximately seven weeks after her transplant, she was able to go back home. Through the rehab, Victoria regained strength day by day. “I realized it’s going to get better. It clicked in my mind that God had a bigger plan,” Victoria said. “I started feeling God’s love and mercy again.” “Through this whole transplant process, I have learned to lean on God and on my family. Even when I think I am all alone, I have the creator of the world right by my side,” she said.

CELEBRATING NEW LIFE Victoria’s sister, Gabrielle, saw God at work through Victoria’s surgery and recovery. “Many people were praying for her who did not even believe in God,” she said. “One of Victoria’s teachers who steered away from faith messaged us to say that because of her, he had rekindled his love for the Lord.



Sometimes it’s hard to see what God is doing in the midst of the struggle. But, when you see one person fall in love with Christ or realize there is a God, you know it’s worth it.” Six months after her transplant, Victoria stood before her church and 60 family members to share her testimony through baptism. The baptism was held as a joint worship service with the Promise Church of Dallas and the First Mexican Baptist Church in Dallas. “God has done so much for me and I wanted to show the world that I trust Him with my life,” she said. Victoria also has plans to attend Congreso 2019 in April and share with her peers about God’s healing power and the miracle He performed in her life. “Victoria's testimony of faith prior to the transplant, at Congreso 2018, challenged our youth in many ways,” said Gabriel Cortes, Congreso coordinator. “We can't wait to see how her testimony of praise at Congreso 2019 will challenge us even more!”

Respirar con pulmones nuevos y celebrar vida nueva Por Kalie Lowrie, Directora de noticias


ictoria López nació con fibrosis quística, una enfermedad genética de los pulmones. Ella fue diagnosticada con fibrosis quística a los ocho meses de edad. Los doctores les dijeron a sus padres, Derek y Griselda, que su hija estaba muy enferma pero que harían todo lo posible por que la llevaran a casa.

Debido a la naturaleza progresiva de la enfermedad, según crecía, Derek y Griselda sabían que sería necesario un trasplante de pulmón. El 20 de septiembre de 2017, se confirmó el que Victoria necesitaría un trasplante de pulmón y le dieron dos meses para decidir someterse a la cirugía. El día de su cumpleaños número 16, el 13 de noviembre, Victoria decidió que quería el trasplante y fue hospitalizada. Para marzo del 2018, la enfermedad había progresado significativamente. Victoria fue admitida al hospital para Niños Medical City en Dallas el 6 de marzo, y dentro de varios días tuvo un ataque de tos masivo que hizo que fuera admitida en la unidad de cuidado intensivo. Una semana más tarde, ella fue transferida al Hospital Baylor Scott & White para observación y acceso máximo a oxígeno. Después de soportar tres días de una evaluación extensa para el trasplante, Victoria fue colocada al principio de la lista para trasplante de pulmón en Dallas, para niños y adultos.

ORACIONES EN CONGRESO Y UN NUEVO PAR DE PULMONES El 6 de abril, Victoria fue dada de alta del hospital en oxígeno continuo. Tres semanas más

tarde fue invitada a ir a Congreso para compartir su testimonio con la multitud de más de 3,000 estudiantes hispanos en el Centro Ferrell de la Universidad de Baylor en Waco. Victoria compartió cómo la enfermedad unió más a su familia y los acercó más a Dios. “Personas en la escuela me preguntaban por qué yo siempre estaba sonriendo y feliz, aun estando tan enferma,” Victoria dijo. “Les digo que no sale de mí, viene de Dios. Tenemos paz al saber que Él está en control.” Los estudiantes y líderes en Congreso oraron con fervor por Victoria—para que Dios proveyera pulmones para su cuerpo enfermo. Su testimonio fue de inspiración para muchos estudiantes en la audiencia, según ella compartió acerca de su fe firme en el Señor, a pesar de circunstancias muy difíciles. La familia López regresó a Dallas el 28 de abril, y Victoria fue readmitida al hospital, con fiebre. Su familia oró y esperó a que Dios intercediera. El 7 de mayo pasó por otra evaluación para la lista de trasplante y los doctores les dijeron que estaba mejorando y la moverían más abajo en la lista. En ese momento, la mamá de Victoria, Griselda, no supo cómo orar. “¿Oro porque me hija se enferme de tal manera para que la suban en la lista de trasplante? ¿Oro porque mi hija se mejore, pero continúe moviéndose hacia abajo en la lista? ¿Oro porque alguien muera para que Victoria pueda recibir pulmones y vivir? Yo estaba muy confundida,” recordó ella. Esa noche, Griselda oró para que Dios se moviera y para que se cumpliera Su voluntad. Al día siguiente, de regreso a casa del FEBRUARY 2019


trabajo, el teléfono de Griselda sonó. Ella recibió la llamada por la que había estado orando durante siete semanas. “Tenemos pulmones para Victoria,” le dijo el doctor. “¿Cuán rápido pueden llegar al hospital?”

“Cuando las personas venían de visita, no quería hablar, solamente dormir,” dijo Victoria. “Tuve ataques de ansiedad terribles. No me podían dejar sola porque me descontrolaba.”

Dentro de dos horas la familia estaba en el hospital.

Victoria también batalló en su fe. Dudó de la bondad de Dios mientras sufría tanto dolor y tanta dificultad. Una cirugía que tenía el propósito de sanarla parecía haber hecho su vida más difícil. ¿Por qué permitía Dios que sucediera esto?

Victoria recordó estar viendo la película “El padre de la novia” con su familia mientras los técnicos le sacaban sangre, hacían pruebas, y la preparaban para la cirugía. “Una vez que mis padres y mi hermana salieron y me quedé sola, comencé a orar por todos los doctores que iban a operarme y porque mi vida después de la cirugía fuera todo lo que yo esperaba,” dijo ella. A la media noche, Victoria entró a la sala de operaciones. Dentro de tres horas los pulmones llegaron al hospital. Siete horas más tarde, su cirugía había sido completada y Victoria tenía un nuevo par de pulmones. Aunque hubo mucho regocijo al finalizar la cirugía, la familia López supo que Victoria sufrió complicaciones, debido a lo enferma estaba. Ella fue puesta en dos sistemas de soporte vital.

EL CAMINO LARGO A LA RECUPERACIÓN Durante las tres semanas siguientes, Victoria estuvo en la Unidad de Cuidado Intensivo con un tubo de respiración. Cuando despertó de la cirugía tenía muchísimo dolor. Sufrió de ataques de pánico y episodios de depresión.



Mientras batallaba con preguntas difíciles, Victoria continuaba clamando al Señor. Después de salir de la Unidad de Cuidado Intensivo, Victoria tuvo que pasar por un tiempo de rehabilitación. Ella tuvo que aprender a respirar con sus pulmones nuevos y a cómo caminar de nuevo después de haber estado en cama durante tanto tiempo. Ella también pasó por terapia del habla y ocupacional. El 26 de junio, aproximadamente siete semanas después de su trasplante, ella pudo regresar a casa. Durante la rehabilitación, Victoria ganó fuerza día tras día.

CELEBRAR VIDA NUEVA La hermana de Victoria, Gabrielle, vio a Dios obrando a través de la cirugía y recuperación de Victoria. “Muchas personas estaban orando por ella, aunque ni siquiera creían en Dios,” dijo. “Uno de los maestros de Victoria, que se había apartado de la fe, nos envió un mensaje diciendo que debido a ella; había renovado su amor por el Señor. A veces es difícil ver lo que Dios está haciendo en medio de la lucha. Pero, cuando ves a una persona rendirse al amor de Cristo o darse cuenta de que Dios existe, sabes que valió la pena.” Seis meses después de su trasplante, Victoria se presentó delante de su iglesia y 60 miembros de su familia para compartir su testimonio por medio del bautismo. El bautismo fue celebrado como un servicio conjunto con la Iglesia Promise de Dallas y la Primera Iglesia Mexicana en Dallas. “Dios ha hecho mucho por mí y quiero demostrarle al mundo que confío en Dios con mi vida,” ella dijo. Victoria también planifica asistir a Congreso 2019 en abril y compartir con sus compañeros acerca del poder sanador de Dios y el milagro que Él ha hecho en su vida.

“Me di cuenta de que estaba mejorando. Entendí que Dios tenía un plan más grande,” dijo Victoria. “Comencé a sentir “El testimonio de fe de Victoria antes del el amor y la misericordia de Dios de nuevo.” trasplante, en Congreso 2018, desafió a nuestros jóvenes de muchas maneras,” dijo “Durante este proceso del trasplante, Gabriel Cortés, coordinador de Congreso. aprendí a descansar en Dios y en mi “¡No podemos esperar a ver cómo su familia. Aun cuando pienso que estoy sola, testimonio de alabanza en Congreso 2019 tengo al Creador del universo a mi lado,” nos desafiará todavía más!” ella dijo.


Immersed for a month. Mentored for a year. Changed for a lifetime.

The goal of KALEO is to transform lives through an understanding of God’s call for Christian leadership in the lives of junior and senior high school students. Nominate your student for this life-changing experience at

To learn more about Wayland, visit



June 16 – 25, 2019


$1200 (not including airfare) $500 deposit to save your space


HOW CHRISTIANS CAN STAY ENGAGED BEYOND THE ELECTION: Preparing for the 86th Legislative Session

By: Kathryn Freeman, Director of Public Policy Now that the election is over, you might be tempted to put politics out of your mind, but it's important that we stay engaged. Our political engagement does not end in the voting booth in fact, that should be just the starting point. The actions of our elected officials once they are in office has an even greater impact on our lives and the lives of our neighbors.



The 86th Texas Legislative Session is around the corner, and here are some key issues facing the Legislature.

1. NEW HOUSE SPEAKER The Texas House of Representatives has elected Dennis Bonnen (R. Angelton) as the new Speaker of the House, the first election in 10 years. The speaker manages the floor debate by determining when other members are recognized to speak, decides when bills are called to the floor for debate, and assigns members to committees and committee chairmanships among other things. Prior

to his election as speaker, Rep. Bonnen served as the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for writing Texas tax laws.

2. BUDGET Passing a budget is the only constitutionally required task the Legislature must complete each session. The Texas Comptroller estimates that the Legislature will have $110 billion in revenue to spend for the 2018-19 biennium. The two largest expenditures in the Texas budget are Medicaid and K-12 funding.

Heading into the 86th Legislative Session, the Legislature will have some pressing financial obligations to address: $2 billion in deferred Medicaid payments, another $2.5 billion for the state highway fund, an influx of cash for the Teacher Retirement System, and ongoing costs for Harvey-related recovery items. Thankfully, the Rainy Day Fund (Texas’ Savings Account) has almost $12.5 billion which potentially can be used to cover continuing costs related to Hurricane Harvey recovery.

3. SCHOOL FINANCE In 2017, the Legislature agreed to create the Texas Commission on Public School Finance to address the ongoing challenges in the way funds are allocated for public schools. The Commission is scheduled to present a report and plan for fixing the system to state officials before the start of the session. Over 90 percent of Texas school-aged children will be educated in public schools. As Texas continues to grow, state funding for schools has not kept pace. According to reports, the state of Texas is providing around 36 percent of funding for schools with a whopping 64 percent generated by local property taxes. Addressing high property taxes and improving the public school finance system will be two of lawmakers top tasks this session. Stay connected with the Christian Life Commission. Sign up for the CLC Today newsletter for legislative updates. Text CLCTODAY to 22828 to be added to the email list. Visit


for Communicating with your Elected Officials

1. Do your research. You do not need to be an expert on the subject matter, but you do need to be prepared. Read a variety of articles related to your issue, know what your opponents might say and be prepared to answer their concerns. 2. Make an in-person visit. Visiting in person has the greatest effect, but if you can’t visit in person, make a phone call or write a personal email. Sharing a personal story or unique way a bill or issue affects you is much more impactful than a form letter.

3. Tailor your message for your audience. Determine in advance your main message. Acknowledge any past work the elected official has done on the issue. Make a connection. For example, if your elected official was previously in law enforcement think about how your issue relates to public safety.

4. Make a specific request. It helps legislative staff know what you’d like the member to do about all the information you share with them. For example, “I am asking you to vote for HB 5.”

5. Be Flexible. Legislators and their staff are extremely busy so their schedules may make it difficult for them to meet with you at your exact appointment time. Do not get frustrated if you do not get everything you ask for on your first request. Some issues are so big and so complex it may take several legislative sessions to adequately address the issue. 6. Stay Connected. Write a note or send an email letting them know you are praying for them regularly. Connect via social media (i.e. friend them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter). Attend a town hall meeting. Invite them or their staff to visit your church or ministry.

Advocacy Day – M A RC H 2 6 – 2 7, 2 0 1 9 –

Woodlawn Baptist Church • 4600 Manchaca Road • Austin, Texas

Keynote Speaker: Michael Gerson

Washington Post Columnist

Tickets are $30 through February 14th Students attend FREE







Supporting healthy pastors to produce healthy churches Texas Baptists strive to equip local church leaders with tools to lead healthy lives and produce healthy churches. The following stories provide an in-depth look at spiritual, emotional, physical and financial health for ministers. We seek to combat statistics like those found in Barna’s (2016) report on the State of Pastors, taken from more than 14,000 pastors around the United States.




Source: Barna (2016). The state of pastors: Leading in complexity. In partnership with Pepperdine. Retrieved from


PASTOR TO PASTOR: SPIRITUAL HEALTH PRACTICES We reached out to several Texas Baptists pastors and asked them to share the importance of personal spiritual health and practices that they incorporate into their daily lives to remain strong in the Lord. FEBRUARY 2019


“The personal spiritual health of the pastor directly impacts the health and vitality of the congregation since the pastor holds such a critical and central relationship with all the members of the church,” said David Lowrie, pastor of First Baptist Church of Decatur. “A struggling unhealthy pastor will undermine the spiritual atmosphere of the congregation in big and small ways. In many ways, spirituality can be contagious. A spiritually weak or unhealthy pastor will create opportunities for the church to struggle and fragment whether it be in the lack of spiritual growth among the membership, or through conflicts which often arise when immaturity holds places of influence and leadership. One of the greatest gifts a pastor can give the church is a heart fully and completely devoted to the Lord in all areas. Seeking the face of God on the part of the pastor stands out as one of the most vital aspects of leadership and influence.”





Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield

Pastor, First Baptist Church in Decatur

There are several ways to focus on your own spiritual health, one way, in particular, is to follow the model of Christ. Jesus frequently retreated in order to pray (Matthew 14:23, Mk.6:46, Luke 6:12, Lk.18:1 and Jn. 17). Make time to be alone with God; that may be early mornings or late nights, but make time for silence. Devotional Reading and "Journaling" the thoughts that come to mind after meditating on God's Word is another method (Ps.1, Ps.63:6, Ps.119:15, Ps.143).

RON SESSION Pastor, Shiloh Church in Garland

Knowing where our supply comes from keeps us in proper relationship with God and others. It is when we lose sight of our dependence on Him that we begin to fall out of His will. There is nothing about us that suggests that we can make it without God for one second. When we are keenly aware of our complete need for Him, we can be strengthened in our relationship.

JASON ATCHLEY Pastor, Bacon Heights Baptist Church in Lubbock

It is critical for me as a pastor to focus on my own personal spiritual health because my pursuit of Christ or lack thereof impacts my people. Pastors must not sacrifice growth in godliness for fruitful ministry. We cannot lead our congregations while on life-support. One of the best ways I have found to strengthen my relationship with the Lord is to consistently take my day off. Resting away from the office and allowing the scriptures to permeate my heart and mind prepares me to lead my team, church family and speak truth each week. Shepherding God’s people requires self-sacrifice, not self-neglect.

I have chosen to share my spiritual journey with a close friend who holds the role of spiritual director and encourager in my life. I believe real spiritual health cannot be found in solitude. It is a shared experience. In selecting this close friend, I look for someone I can be totally transparent with and can share the joys and struggles of life and ministry. Sometimes, he listens as I vent and pour out my heart, at other times he holds me accountable, and at other times we just share life together. Being a local church pastor can be a very lonely role of leadership even though the ministry is played out among the masses. All spiritual leaders need a “safe” person to walk in the light with as they lead the church.

There is nothing about us that suggests that we can make it without God for one second. — Ron Session

JASON PAREDES Pastor, Fielder Church in Arlington

I try to incorporate necessary rhythms to my spiritual life to keep me connected to the Lord. Daily, I spend time in the morning, usually an hour, studying the scriptures, reading, and praying. I never use this time for sermon prep so as not to confuse my role as a teacher with my role as a son sitting at

One of the greatest gifts a pastor can give the church is a heart fully and completely devoted to the Lord in all areas. — David Lowrie

the feet of his Daddy. I also try to block out a time a least a couple times a month in my office where I close my office door, pull out my guitar and worship and pray. I get on my face and confess sin and refocus on the Gospel. Then, I journal prayer requests for my family, my church, and my life. Also, I spend a couple of hours each week, praying each sermon in the rooms where I will be preaching. I pray for connectedness to the Lord, for His power, and for the humility to receive the word myself. This keeps preaching from becoming a job and makes it a ministry to my soul

balm to my soul and has recentered me in ways that just my normal daily time with Jesus couldn’t accomplish. Any one of these activities on its own would be helpful but not complete. When they all work in conjunction, they work to feed my soul and ground me in the Gospel.

DAVID RITSEMA Pastor, First Baptist Church in Waxahachie

There are myriad of things I do and have done to remain spiritually healthy. My mornings always include some kind of spiritual reflection (reading, journaling, prayer, etc.). I read a lot of materials that help with this (e.g., books and so forth), listen to sermons from various preachers throughout the day, and attend conferences, associational meetings, pastor retreats, and so forth. I have also kept mentors through the years, including some of the great pastors in Texas like Paul Powell, Ralph Smith, David Dykes, and many more. My daily exercise routine helps a lot with this—as does just getting out of the office.

Shepherding God’s people requires self-sacrifice, not self-neglect. — Jason Atchley first and foremost before I offer it to His people. Finally, and probably most importantly, I take a couple of times a year to go on a fasting retreat with various staff where my only objective for the retreat is to drink deep of God’s presence. Fasting with other believers has been a




SECRET’S OUT: PASTORS OFTEN FACE FINANCIAL CHALLENGES By Analiz G. Schremmer, Contributing Writer Pastor Brooks Kimmey of First Baptist Church of Robinson said he loves being a pastor so much, he would do it for free. The problem with that, he said, is that places like grocery stores and hospitals make pastors pay for services. And when a pastor gets sick, there are a lot more services that need to be paid. Before moving to Robinson, Kimmey was diagnosed with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, a rare autoimmune disease that caused him severe muscle and joint pain and inflammation. Ordinary tasks like



getting out of bed or getting dressed can become either slow and painful or nearly impossible without assistance. The stress of the move and the birth of his second child seemed to aggravate the sickness. He suffered a blood clot right before the move, and once at his new home, he had multiple fevers every day. “The last straw was one night I was on the couch shivering and talking unintelligible gibberish,” he said. “An ambulance came and rushed me to the hospital.” Kimmey, now 32, testified that God used his illness for His glory and for his family and Kimmey’s good, but it did create serious financial stressors. “With hospital bills, infusions, various treatments and medications…trying to keep me alive has certainly dwindled our bank account,” he said. “When I saw the

Ministerial Excellence Matching Grant, I realized that this could be another evidence of God’s kindness and provision. This gave me the opportunity to share our financial need with others, and allowed God to work through their generosity.” The Ministerial Excellence Matching Grant is an opportunity offered to ensure that pastors receive the help they need to minister well without worrying about personal debt or finances. The grant allows pastors to apply for up to $5,000. The other $5,000 or less must be matched by the pastor, a donor, the church or some other means. Kimmey learned about the opportunity through social media. “A friend made a video for us in which I shared our situation, and I asked friends and family to help us raise the funds

necessary to receive the full amount of the grant we’d received,” Kimmey said. “Not only did we raise the goal that the BGCT would match through the grant, we raised several thousand more. Our church was then able to use that surplus money to help pay for my monthly health insurance premiums. And upon receiving the full amount of the grant, we were able to chip away at the medical bills.”

The grant requires that participants meet with a financial planner and participate in a financial retreat.

The Center for Ministerial Excellence began distributing grants in the Spring of 2017. This was after the BGCT was awarded a $1 million implementation grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to participate in its National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders.

Retreats educate pastors, their spouses and lay leaders on church budgeting, personal budgeting and tax benefits for pastors.

“THIS GRANT GAVE ME A VEHICLE TO MAKE OUR NEED KNOWN, AS WELL AS A GOAL TO RAISE WITH THE MOTIVATION OF A MATCH” “There has been a huge response to this,” said director for the Center of Ministerial Excellence Tammy Tijerina. “A lot of our pastors might be dealing with cancer or medical issue and don’t have health insurance or have a high deductible plan and are already living with no margins so it wipes them out.” Tijerina explained that pastors depend on people’s giving and generosity for their living and a lot of the churches that the Center for Ministerial Excellence sees have experienced a decline in giving. If people don’t give, it’ll impact the church’s ability to provide benefits or support the pastor financially. “It’s unique, because pastors feel like they can’t say anything,” she said. “They don’t want to seem nonspiritual for asking for more money to support their family.” Similarly, Kimmey’s church was experiencing some financial challenges at the same time as he was. But the grant provided a way for him to get his needs met. “This grant gave me a vehicle to make our need known, as well as a goal to raise with the motivation of a match,” Kimmey said. “Our family and friends responded in incredible fashion.”

Kimmey said that the financial retreat was the most beneficial grant requirement for him. He participated with his church deacon chairman and they both learned lessons on how the church can better care for their pastor.

“A housing allowance is an awesome tax benefit for pastors that many churches are not taking advantage of because they just don’t know about it,” Tijerina explained. “It’s one of the best things a church can do for a minister financially. It allows ministers to exclude some or all of their ministerial income as a housing allowance for federal income tax purposes. But the church has to designate that amount.” According to research that was made possible by a $50,000 Lilly Endowment planning grant, 36 percent of Texas Baptist pastors do not receive a housing allowance. Another grant requirement is meeting up with a financial planner, which Tijerina said has made a big impact because many pastors don’t feel at liberty to discuss their finances. “Our study showed that 34 percent of Texas Baptist pastors have no one to talk to about finances outside of their household,” Tijerina stated. Michael Westbrooks, a member of First Baptist Richardson who is self-employed at Westbrooks Dugger and Westbrooks Financial in Dallas, volunteers as one of the financial planners who is available to meet with qualifying grant recipients. “A lot of [ministers] just don’t make enough money,” Westbrook said. “They are trying to raise a family and a lot of them don’t have any margin so they are in trouble when something comes up.” He said many times he encourages pastors to find a trusted deacon or a senior

member of the church and include them in the conversation. “In some cases, I think that if church leaders knew, they would step up and try to make a salary adjustment,” he said. “I think this is an amazing grant and there is such a great need for it. I hope the BGCT continues to press education and the importance of giving young pastors a knowledge base about having social security and saving early for emergencies and retirement.”



There are many successful Christian business people. Reach out to them. If it needs to be a non-church member, reach out to another person like me who is in the network of volunteers willing to help educate pastors. Look into financial literacy resources that are available through GuideStone. To request a meeting with a financial planner in the Texas Baptists network, visit


Start saving early for retirement. If you can save 10 to 15 percent of what you’re making, then by the time you retire you should be able to maintain the same lifestyle you had in your working years. If you can’t do that, do something. Contact GuideStone at 1-888-984-8433 to set-up a retirement account and for more help.

3 4

Budget separately for emergencies.

Be educated about your choices in regards to social security and be sure you are fully informed before making decisions.


Educate yourself and your church on the ministerial housing allowance. Go to for more information.


Learn good financial management. Figure out what you should be spending on rent. Look into apps to help you manage your finances. Visit for more info. FEBRUARY 2019





HOW TO AVOID LEADING THROUGH LONELINESS By Analiz G. Schremmer, Contributing Writer

Pastors are always surrounded by people; whether they are preaching a sermon to a full church on Sunday, attending crowded prayer meetings or ministering to the hurting. Yet crowds of people don’t necessarily bring connection. And isolation can be a serious reality for the person behind the pulpit.



Pastors may feel like their lives are under a microscope or like they live in a fishbowl, explained Director of Counseling Services Katie Swafford. Pastors are humans with real flaws and imperfections and a lot of times there are people in their own churches who tear them down. “All of that can create a lonely environment because they never know who they can let their hair down with or know when they are in a safe space,” Swafford said. “A large majority of people in ministry don’t have that safe space. Unfortunately, some of them may have once thought someone was a safe place and then they had their trust betrayed. I think that’s really the largest piece of why they can feel that way.” The constant exposure to criticism is one thing; another is the plain business of leading a congregation.

LONELINESS AND THE PASTOR’S WIFE A pastor’s wife can experience a lot of the same emotional isolation as her husband. Besides that, she can sometimes be subjected to the discomfort of watching others criticize her spouse. “Sometimes a pastor’s wife will attend a church business meeting and have to hear people be rude to their husband,” Swafford said. The majority of the time they have to sit there and not express pain or emotion. And church members can also be critical of the wife, too. Saying they don’t teach enough or whatever.”

HOW CAN MINISTERS FIGHT LONELINESS? Swafford shared some steps that ministers can take to fight the lions of loneliness:

2. Connect with others. Swafford recommends that pastors and their wives seek to connect with people in a way that isn’t church-focused. “They may like to fish, hunt or golf. They can find a buddy and go on a guy’s trip or a pastor’s wife can do something similar with girlfriends. That can decrease loneliness as well as depression and anxiety because it creates a space without all of those expectations.” She added the value of being intentional about calling those long-distance friends that might offer a safe space as well.

3. Contact Texas Baptists Counseling Services and utilize the resources available. Swafford said she is available to discuss any issues of loneliness, depression, anxiety or any other mental health issues. “I’ve told ministers they can call me if they just need to talk for a little bit and not necessarily engage in a counseling relationship, but just need somebody to talk to,” Swafford said. Swafford said she can help connect ministers and their spouses to retreat opportunities, books, websites, podcasts or options for treatment.

CHANGING THE CULTURE Besides pastors taking steps towards their own mental and emotional wellbeing, congregations need to work to create healthy environments for their pastors.

“Their social lives take a hit,” Swafford said. “If they are always pouring out when do they have time to just relax and be themselves?” Pair all that with the expectation that pastors are Superman, always available to meet everyone’s needs with a smile, and it’s just a very difficult combination of factors for them to cope with.



1. Connect personally with God. Preparing for sermons and Bible studies are important times with the Lord. While that time of study in scripture is important, it is also vital for ministers to remain focused on their own intimate relationship with the Lord, Swafford explained. That’s a very outward focus and a great thing,” she said. “But sometimes that personal intimate relationship can be neglected.”

Swafford emphasized the magnitude of the role that congregants play in the mental health of their pastors and that we need to check our own thoughts and expectations, remembering that it’s not about them serving us. It’s about them leading us in service. For more information on Texas Baptists Counseling Services, contact Director Katie Swafford at or call 800.388.2005.



By Dr. Donna Stauber, Faith in Action Initiatives, Baylor Scott & White Health

Mary moved to Waco looking for a fresh start after leaving her family in Midland. She had a new job, and was excited about her future. However, a few weeks into her new job, she became extremely ill and went to the ER for treatment. After numerous tests, she was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian and breast cancer that was widely metastasized. When Dianne attended Faith Community Caregiver Training, she shared with the group that her husband had died of cancer a few years earlier. Dianne watched as he endured the pain of chemotherapy and

radiation, and then held his hand as he slipped away after a long battle. However, instead of letting the pain make her bitter, Dianne became passionate about helping others. The Faith Community Health Coordinator paired Dianne with Mary, knowing that the two could walk this hard road together. Dianne assisted Mary with transportation and food needs. She visited one hour per week to offer a beautiful ministry of presence helping her know that she is not alone in her journey. Sadly, Mary passed away recently but the love, compassion, and ministry of

presence Dianne shared during her last days on this earth were a precious gift. The Faith Community Health program at Baylor Scott & White Health began in 2015, based on an already successful combination of faith communities and healthcare in Memphis, Tennessee. The “Memphis Model�, based out of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, established the Congregational Health Network in 2003. This began the bridging of the healthcare community and the local faith communities.



Faith Community Health operates according to four principles: Right Door, Right Time, Ready to be treated and Reassured-Not Alone. It strives to help direct people to the Right Door, or avenue of health care such as seeing a primary care physician, community clinic, or outpatient center in the hospital rather than utilizing the emergency room. It urges people to seek treatment

“We see this program as an opportunity for people to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their communities.” at the Right Time, learning the importance of preventative care and how to recognize symptoms earlier. It also helps those needing medical treatment understand what they need and why so they can be Ready to be Treated. Finally, it Reassures those facing health issues they are Not Alone. Facing illness can cause feelings of anxiety, isolation, or fear. Faith Community Health not only provides support in physical healing and connection to basic life resources, but also the support of a calm presence during trying times. This program pairs the isolated and lonely patients with a faith community volunteer for one hour a week. The volunteer provides ministry of presence to the patient, who would otherwise most likely spend the entire week alone. This touchpoint of care makes all the difference in the world. “The third visit is the magic visit. The patient starts to realize that ‘they’re really going to come back!’ and thus begins an incredible friendship,” says Donna Stauber, Ph.D., System Program Manager, Innovations, Spiritual Care Delivery for Baylor S&W Health. “We see this program as an opportunity 28


for people to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their communities,” she continues. Patients are referred in a close geographical location to where the patient lives, allowing the faith communities to reach out into their own neighborhoods. Health professionals and Chaplains identify patients in need and refer them to the Faith Community Health Coordinator. Each faith community has pre-selected a faith community liaison who receives the call from the Baylor S&W Faith Community Health Coordinator notifying them that a patient in their community needs a Faith Community Caregiver (volunteer). The liaison contacts her/his team to identify the best

volunteer for the patient. The volunteer then calls the patient to schedule the first one-hour visit. We presently have over 100 patients who have either completed the program or who are currently involved. “Some of our volunteers will have patients graduate and are already ready for another patient opportunity,” said Stauber. “The direct positive impact that volunteers have with their patients and the relationship that is formed is incredibly rewarding. It is a job to help people increase their quality of life, connect to life-sustaining resources, and navigate the health care system more effectively.” Of the first 60

Patients experienced a 50% decrease in hospital admissions and a 30% decrease in emergency room visits.

that were referred to our Faith Community Health program at Baylor S&W Hillcrest in Waco, Texas, during the first 18 months, patients experienced a 50 percent decrease in hospital admissions and a 30 percent decrease in emergency room visits. “When Baylor S&W Health, Office of Mission and Ministry, Faith Community Health program first connects with a faith community interested in the program, we inquire of their goals and community needs to help them develop a health ministry program that meets their individual needs”, Stauber said.

“We want to know what the faith communities’ challenges are and what Baylor Scott & White can do to help.” Our main goal is to improve the health of those in our communities.” To learn more about starting a church health ministry in your faith community or becoming a Faith Community Caregiver volunteer, please contact Donna Stauber at




Texas Baptists River Ministry missionaries are continuing to meet needs of residents, refugees and immigrants along the Texas/ Mexico border, just as they have been doing for the last 50 years.



Vanessa Lerma, River Ministry missionary in McAllen, coordinates volunteers for a Respite Care facility which serves several hundred refugees passing through the border city each month. The facility has seen an increase in refugees over the last few months, with more than 150 people passing through daily. Lerma is collecting donations and hygiene kits to distribute to refugees. In Nuevo Laredo, River Ministry missionary Ruth Ortiz coordinates with local churches which feed approximately 300 deportees a day. During their 1-2 day stay at the migrant center, deportees are provided hot meals by the churches and are also ministered to through prayer and Bible studies.

border for effective ministry. Resources through Texas Baptists River Ministry, such as No Mas Violencia, a program to educate families on reducing violence in the home, and 4xFour, an evangelism tool, have been used in recent years with good results. While Roman celebrated the success of those programs, he cautioned church leaders to not solely rely on the programs but to allow the Lord to work through each person to share the hope of Jesus with those they encounter.

BORDER SUMMIT HIGHLIGHTS MINISTRY NEEDS On November 17, Texas Baptists co-hosted a Border Summit with the Seminario Teológico Bautista Cosme G. Montemayor in Matamoros, Mexico, to discuss the importance of ministry along the Texas/ Mexico border. Josue Valerio, director of Texas Baptists’ Missions Team, discussed the influx of immigrants through Mexico as an opportunity to renew a commitment to God’s commission. “God is in the middle of this disruption,” he said. “He is sovereign and omniscient. If there are disruptions in society, that affects the church. How does God want us to respond to what is happening in our society? He wants us to identify ourselves with Him.”

Dr. Benjamin Roman, director of the Seminario Teológico Bautista Cosme G. Montemayor, discussed several challenges churches face with border ministry, including deportation, labor slavery, family dysfunction and religiosity. He encouraged those in attendance to remember God has provided the church with all the necessary resources for ministry. “The Gospel goes beyond any limit, boundary or border,” Roman said. For more than 50 years, Mexican Baptists have partnered with Texas Baptists to equip churches on both sides of the

“We need to reach the border with the transforming message of the Gospel,” Roman said.

MISSION TEAMS SUPPORT LOCAL CHURCHES Several Texas Baptists churches have sent mission teams to serve along the border and support the local churches engaged in daily ministry to refugees. From July to October, Imelda Corona led three mission teams from Iglesia Bautista Getsemani in Dallas to serve in Nuevo Laredo. The church collected donations of sleeping bags, socks, backpacks filled



with school supplies and food to distribute. Corona described opportunities to pray with families, engage in activities with children, and share the Gospel with many going through an extremely difficult time. “God is bringing all the nations to one area to evangelize,” Corona said. “I encourage churches to see the spiritual and physical needs of those we serve.”

River Ministry Director Daniel Rangel suggested several ways churches and individuals could give to support the continued work of River Ministry missionaries. Monetary gifts are used to purchase food staples, such as rice, beans and cooking oil. Through monetary gifts, hygiene kits can be also purchased for less than $1.00 per bag and shipped within 1-2 days to missionaries for distribution.

Churches are also encouraged to send volunteers, including medical and dental teams, to serve at the McAllen Respite Care facility and with churches in Nuevo Laredo. For more information on ways your church can support the work of River Ministry missionaries along the border, contact Daniel Rangel, director of Texas Baptists River Ministry, at or call 214.828.5394.

t o re c e i v e a F R E E d a i l y d e v o t i o n a l

w w w. fi r s t 15 . o r g

No w a l s o a v a i l a b le i n S p a n i s h a t p r i m e r o s 15 . o r g 32


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WHO WE ARE WHAT WE DO For more than 130 years, the Baptist General Convention of Texas (Texas Baptists) has helped churches fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. Today, we are more than 5,300 churches working together in harmonious cooperation to share Christ and show love.



Discipleship Evangelism Music & Worship

BOUNCE Church Starting Missionary Adoption Program Multi-housing & House Congregations River Ministry & Mexico Missions Urban Missions



Community Care Ethics & Justice Hunger Offering Public Policy

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African American Ministries Associations Hispanic Education Initiative Hispanic Ministries Intercultural Ministries Project: Start

The ministry of the Convention is organized into teams that inform and inspire churches through events, resources, consultations and more. Through gifts to the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, you and your church enable missions and ministry across the state and around the world. Because you give, love is shown, the Gospel is shared and lives are transformed. Learn more about affiliation at, and learn more about the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program at

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Profile for Texas Baptists

Texas Baptists Life, Volume 7 - Issue 1  

Supporting healthy pastors to produce healthy churches

Texas Baptists Life, Volume 7 - Issue 1  

Supporting healthy pastors to produce healthy churches

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