TEXAS BAPTISTS LIFE Volume 7
EXPANDING CHURCH STARTING New church plants, house churches and partnerships in the Northwest pg. 15
Issue No. 2
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TEXAS BAPTISTS LIFE
TEXAS BAPTISTS LIFE / VOLUME 7 • ISSUE 2
PUBLICATION TEAM MOBILIZING THE COMMUNITY TO CARE FOR HOMELESS STUDENTS Read about the Alief Homeless Coalition, a Texas Baptist Hunger Offering recipient, and how God is using Pastor Parris Patrick and others to care for the homeless in their community.
GET TO KNOW YOUR AREA REPRESENTATIVE: ERNEST DAGOHOY
THE INCREASING NEED TO PROTECT CHILDREN IN CHURCH
et an inside look at Ernest Dagohoy’s work as an Area Representative serving G in the Houston area.
im Watson, director of Area Representatives, shares about the important regional T MinistrySafe church training workshops offered to reduce the risk of sexual abuse within the church.
CARING FOR ABUSE SURVIVORS atie Swafford, director of Counseling Services, discusses ways leaders can care K for survivors of sexual abuse within the church.
Joshua Seth Minatrea, Director of Communications Kalie Lowrie, News Director Jeremy Honea, Art Director Maritza Solano, Production Artist Jordan Parker, Contributing Photographer 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 email@example.com.
RETURNING HOME arco Barron, a student at Stark College & Seminary, and the youth minister at M Segunda Iglesia Bautista in Corpus Christi, found his greatest mission was to return to his parents’ hometown in Mexico and spread the love of God.
IT’S BIGGER THAN HIP-HOP
EMBRACING COWBOY CHURCH CULTURE
20 24 26 28
Church Planter Jason Rhodes’ desire was to reach those in his community, however, he never expected that to happen through hip-hop music.
t Archer City Cowboy Church, people who desire a closer walk with Jesus gathers A each week.
JOINING GOD’S WORK IN THE NORTHWEST ead about a recent vision trip to Seattle to meet with church planters, and the new R partnership between Texas Baptists and the Northwest Baptist Convention.
CHANGING LIVES AND RESHAPING CHURCH
In Houston, Guy Caskey is planting churches that are not designed to grow in membership, but multiply in number.
YEARS IN THE MAKING, GOD’S SURPRISES NEVER CEASE Iglesia El Camino is part of a growing network of house churches in the Rio Grande Valley, a key approach for Texas Baptists in reaching people along the Texas-Mexico border that maximizes resources and evangelistic zeal.
PASAN LOS AÑOS PERO DIOS NO DEJA DE SORPRENDERNOS a Iglesia El Camino es parte de una creciente red de iglesias en casa en el Valle L del Río Grande, un enfoque clave para que los Bautistas de Texas alcancen a las personas a lo largo de la frontera de Texas y México y que maximicen los recursos y el celo evangelístico.
FILL YOUR CUP Christ’s love compels us to serve, and at the 2019 Texas Baptists Annual Meeting this fall, we want to serve you well. Join us in Waco and fill your cup to go out, share Christ, and show love. Fellowship, preaching, worship, and workshops await. Can we count you in?
VICTOR RODRIGUEZ Hispanic Evangelism Director
DUANE BROOKS Pastor Tallowood Baptist
MICHAEL EVANS President
DAVID HARDAGE Executive Director
NOVEMBER 17 – 19, 2019 TEXAS BAPTISTS LIFE
HELLO, TEXAS BAPTISTS! In February, several of our Texas Baptists staff attended an event sponsored by the Lilly Endowment Inc. in Indianapolis. We were there to report on the work and ministry we have done in the past two years with the resources they provided to assist pastors and church staff members experiencing financial stress. We have assisted 89 pastors with more than $400,000 of financial assistance so far. While there, we also listened and learned from other organizations on the work they were doing with Lilly Endowment funds. I came away very pleased, even proud, of the work of our Texas Baptists Center for Ministerial Excellence, led by Director Tammy Tijerina, and supervised by Dr. Dowell Loftis, leader of our Connections Team.
that 2018 was an excellent year. Through our regular Church Starting model we began 65 new works. Through our multi-housing/house church model we began 94 new works. Best of all, these 159 new churches and house churches recorded 11,000 professions of faith. Our BGCT Church Starting success rate continues to far exceed the national average. Your staff has established very effective and efficient strategies and processes over the years that really work! Thank you, Texas Baptists, for your support of the Cooperative Program. Most of our Church Starting dollars come through CP, and we are grateful for your generosity. In this edition, you'll read much more about Texas Baptists Church Starting. It's exciting work and, with your support, the best is yet to come.
¡HOLA, BAUTISTAS DE TEXAS! En febrero, varios de los miembros del personal ministerial Bautista de Texas asistimos a un evento auspiciado por Lilly Endowment Inc., en Indianápolis. Estuvimos allí para presentar un informe acerca del trabajo y el ministerio que hemos realizado en los pasados dos años con los recursos que nos proveyeron para ayudar a pastores y otros ministros pasando por situaciones económicas difíciles. Hemos ayudado a 89 pastores con más de $400,000 en ayuda financiera hasta ahora.
While in Indianapolis, I had lunch with Church Planter Dwayne Gibbs. This past summer, Texas Baptists Church Starting began working with Dwayne and a couple of other organizations to help start The District Church in Indianapolis. We enjoyed a wonderful conversation and he was so very thankful for the work and support of Texas Baptists. The best news is that The District is not just up and running, it is growing! In March, he and some of his leaders were here in Dallas for some encouragement and training with some of our Church Starting leaders. This is a good work!
Allí también escuchamos y aprendimos de otras organizaciones y el trabajo que hacen con los fondos del Capital de Lilly. Para mí fue una experiencia placentera, y me sentí muy orgulloso del trabajo del Centro para la Excelencia en el Ministerio de los Bautistas de Texas y su directora, Tammy Tijerina, supervisado por el Dr. Dowell Loftis, líder de nuestro Equipo de Conexiones.
Of course, this is the exception to the norm for us in church planting. Obviously, the vast majority of our work is right here in the state of Texas. I'm happy to report
En Indianápolis, almorcé con Dwayne Gibbs, un plantador de iglesias. Este verano pasado, la Iniciación de Iglesias Bautistas de Texas comenzó a trabajar
con Dwayne y un par de otras organizaciones para ayudar a iniciar la Iglesia District en Indianápolis. Disfrutamos de una conversación maravillosa y él estaba muy agradecido por el trabajo y el respaldo de los Bautistas de Texas. La mejor noticia de todas es que la Iglesia District, no solamente ha comenzado, ¡está creciendo! En marzo, él y algunos de sus líderes estuvieron aquí en Dallas para recibir exhortación y entrenamiento con otros de nuestros líderes para iniciar iglesias. ¡Ésta es una buena obra! Por supuesto, ésta es la excepción a la regla para nosotros al iniciar iglesias. Obviamente, la gran mayoría de nuestro trabajo es aquí en el estado de Texas. Y, soy feliz de informar que el 2018 fue un año excelente. A través de nuestro modelo para iniciar iglesias se comenzaron 65 obras nuevas. A través del modelo de iglesias en apartamentos/hogares comenzamos 94 obras nuevas. Lo mejor de todo, estas 159 nuevas iglesias e iglesias hogares reportaron 10,000 profesiones de fe. Nuestra tasa de éxito en el inicio de iglesias de los Bautistas de Texas continúa sobrepasando el promedio nacional. ¡A través de los años, nuestros ministros han establecido estrategias y procesos efectivos y eficientes que funcionan! Gracias, Bautistas de Texas, por su respaldo al Programa Cooperativo. La mayor parte de los fondos para Iniciar iglesias vienen del Programa Cooperativo, y estamos agradecidos por su generosidad. En esta edición, leerá mucho más acerca del Inicio de iglesias de los Bautistas de Texas. Es un trabajo emocionante y, con su respaldo, lo mejor queda por venir.
B L E S S I N G S A N D B EN D I C I O N E S ,
D AV I D H A R D A G E E X E C U T I V E D I R E C TO R D I R E C TO R E J E C U T I VO
ANDY AND HIS FATHER, PARRIS PATRICK
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MOBILIZING THE COMMUNITY TO CARE FOR HOMELESS STUDENTS
Five years ago, Pastor Parris Patrick felt God calling him to something new. He spent 40 days fasting and praying in a closet in his home. A few days later, Patrick attended a local school board meeting, where the topic of homeless students came up. He learned that there were hundreds of homeless children in Alief Independent School District, located in the Houston area.
“It's as if God spoke to me at that moment and said, that's it—that’s what you're supposed to do. I didn't hear anything else in that meeting,” said Patrick, who serves as pastor of Agape Community Bible Church in Alief. The next day, Patrick went to the school administration building to meet with Jennifer Keys, the director of special programs at the time. Patrick shared with Keys what God laid on his heart about caring for the homeless children in the community. The two sat together for four hours and developed a plan on how to care for this vulnerable population of students. Less than 24 hours later, Patrick’s phone rang with an unexpected call. Maria Avalos, the McKinney-Vento social worker for Alief ISD, called to ask Patrick if he could help with a homeless student in great need. There was a 16-year-old student named Andy, whose mother just passed away and his extended family was unable to care for him. “Andy didn't have anywhere to go and we had kind of done everything on our end to figure something out for him,” Avalos said. “Whenever that happened, I didn't really know what to do. And the only person that came in mind was Pastor Paris because I saw the passion that he had for really helping us.” Patrick called his wife, and their family joined together to pray for Andy and for God to show them how they could help.
A Texas Baptist Hunger Offering story By Kalie Lowrie, News Director
“We all felt very comfortable that God was telling us to help this young man,” Patrick recalled. “We all knew what it meant— that he was going to live with us. And so I called the District back and said we want to help him and not only do we want to help him, but we're going to allow him to stay with us.”
Out of this passion, Patrick formed the Alief Coalition for the Homeless (ACH). He began networking with local churches, businesses, and community leaders to pull resources together to serve some of the most vulnerable in their community.
NETWORKING TO MEET NEEDS In 2018, there were 1,900 homeless students in Alief ISD. Through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act, the school district is able to employ two social workers who identify homeless children and connect them with needed services. When Alief ISD identifies a homeless family, they contact Patrick and the ACH network begins to work to meet immediate needs.
A PERMANENT HOME FOR ANDY AND THE BIRTH OF A NEW MINISTRY Andy moved in with the Patrick family the next day, one week shy of his 17th birthday. “Ever since then, he has since become my son,” Patrick said. “Andy shared with me that he had always prayed that God would send him a father, and even though it was sad that his mom died, he felt like God answered his prayers by joining our family.”
“They showed me love and compassion,” Andy said. “I learned so much within just one month, keeping the foundation of his house within God. It was really inspiring for me and has really blessed me.” Within a couple of weeks of living with the Patricks, Andy accepted Jesus as his Savior and became a Christian. The Patricks also started the process of adopting Andy as their legal son. As the Patricks began caring for Andy, they also learned more about other homeless students in the school district and immediate needs they had. 8
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“Pastor Paris supports us in any way that we may need,” Avalos said. “If we call him up and tell him that we have a need for dresses for a prom event, or we're having a toy drive, or a school supplies drive...that we need housing for student or for a family, he is always there to answer and to help us out.” Another aspect of ACH is a home for homeless boys called Andy’s House. When Andy’s mom passed away, she left her home to Andy and he decided the best way to use the house was to create a place for other boys to have a home when they found themselves homeless. After several renovations, in the summer of 2018, Andy’s House began to welcome homeless students in need of a safe haven. Four boys have lived in the home, three of whom were reunited with their families within six months. Curtis Jacobs serves as the “house dad” and is a constant source of love, encouragement, and stability for the housemates. “When we get the unaccompanied young boys, there's a process we go through to make sure that we're able to minister to them in the needs of giving them a stable environment,” Patrick said.
ACH receives weekly requests to serve homeless families and students in their community. He relies upon a well-developed network to meet needs as they arise. “We have a network in our Coalition where we can make sure they get clothes, and pretty quickly if they need food, we can make sure they have food,” Patrick said. Local churches and business leaders respond within hours to an email sent out with needs and God provides. The Agape Community Bible Church, a Texas Baptist church and member of the Union Baptist Association, has also embraced ACH as a church-wide ministry. When a family is in need of shelter for a day or two, volunteers from the church will set up one of the rooms at the building to serve them. They set-up cots and sleeping bags, provide a warm meal, and many times bring other children up to the church
to play games with the family and provide a safe environment for them. “This highlights the importance of the partnership between the Coalition and our churches,” Patrick said. “You’re helping work with people who can identify the need and then use your resources to meet that need. Just talk about that partnership. The only way to do this is to do together what we cannot do by ourselves. There's absolutely no way that one organization, one church, or one company is going to be able to solve this problem.” ACH is a Texas Baptist Hunger Offering recipient. Gifts through the Hunger Offering are used to provide food and basic necessities for the families and homeless students served by the ministry.
UPCOMING 5TH SUNDAY HUNGER OFFERING DATES: May 12 Mother’s Day June 30 September 29 December 29
Visit hungeroffering.org for videos, stories and more resources to promote the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering in your church.
With a special donation on Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019.
DONATE ONLINE AT HUNGEROFFERING.ORG
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious
strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being
established in love, may have
together with all the Lordâ€™s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be
the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him
glory in the
church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for
By Kalie Lowrie, News Director ever and ever!
BE ENRICHED. BE ROOTED. BE EMPOWERED. BE FULFILLED.
EAST TEXAS BAPTIST UNIVERSITY | 903.923.2000 ONE TEXAS 75670 1 0 TIGER T E X A SDRIVE B A P T I S|TMARSHALL, S LIFE
GET TO KNOW YOUR AREA REPRESENTATIVE Ernest Dagohoy Area Representative Service Area 5
Area Representative Ernest Dagohoy’s ministry has spanned 28 years and two continents—from North America to Asia. Born and raised in the Philippines, Ernest served as a university chaplain at Central Philippine University from 1991-1994. Then, in 1994, Ernest and his wife, Cecile, moved to the United States, where Ernest began his 20-year ministry at First Philippine Baptist Church in Houston. Their daughter, Faith, was born three years later. The Dagohoys loved serving the local church and being involved in Baptist life in Texas, as well as maintaining connections and returning for frequent mission trips to the Philippines. Then in 2014, Ernest transitioned to serving as Area Representative for Texas Baptists in Southeast Texas—from Houston to Beaumont. Ernest has found his comfort zone in ministering to fellow pastors. He knows what it is like to serve in the trenches and can empathize with pastors going through personal and professional challenges. One of the greatest blessings for Ernest is praying
Ernest Dagohoy, his wife, Cecile, and their daughter, Faith
alongside ministers in need. The ministry of prayer has been something Ernest has embraced as he has prayed by the sickbed of a minister, or in the office with someone facing tremendous difficulties. Ernest feels honored to join with pastors in deep prayers for strength in the ministry and balance of family and church life. The end of August 2017 brought significant challenges to Ernest’s service area as Hurricane Harvey caused significant damage and flooding across the region and impacted more than one-fifth of Texas Baptist churches in some way. As the waters receded, Ernest began receiving calls for help from churches through the region and quickly worked to connect those in need with those who could help. Over the next year-and-a-half, Ernest distributed $116,000 in church building recovery grants and pastor housing assistance in person, as well as, 1,450 gift cards from Texas WMU and a sister Baptist church in Kentucky, to support churches and pastors in need.
In addition to walking with churches through difficult times, Ernest also connects with pastors in ministry transitions. He also plans to connect Christian Studies faculty members from Houston Baptist University and Truett Seminary with churches in need of pulpit supply preachers. Ernest connects small membership churches in need of financial assistance for church building projects, or for their ministry staff, with Convention resources. He also views the associational Director of Missions in his area as a key partner in ministry. Seeing pastors smiling and thriving in ministry, and churches growing and reaching their communities, is a delight for Ernest. More than anything, he wants pastors to know that he is available to help support them as they faithfully serve the Lord and work to advance the Kingdom. Texas Baptists have nine area representatives serving around the state to connect with churches. To find your area representative, visit texasbaptists.org/ connections or call 214.887.5475.
THE INCREASING NEED TO PROTECT CHILDREN IN CHURCH By Tim Watson, Director of Area Representatives In response to recent articles related to sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches, many stakeholders are asking, “What is Texas Baptists doing?” Even before these most recent articles were published, Texas Baptists has equipped church leaders and congregations in preventive measures. For instance, over the last three years, Texas Baptists churches have benefitted from the convention’s relationship with MinistrySafe, an industry leader in sexual abuse prevention. MinistrySafe designed a Five-Part Safety System to help churches prevent children from being sexually abused. MinistrySafe was founded by Greg Love and Kim Norris, trial attorneys in Fort Worth, Texas, who represent victims of sexual abuse and, specifically, matters related to child sexual abuse. They are both active leaders
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and seminar presenters to secular and ministry organizations who focus on the prevention and appropriate response to child sexual abuse. MinistrySafe has been presented over the last three years to members of approximately 150 Texas Baptists congregations desiring to be on the preventive side of abuse. However, 150 churches represent a small number of the 5,300 Texas Baptists-affiliated congregations.
objective of sexual abuse. Love’s metaphor for helping churches guard against child predators was that of a fence. We build fences based on the type of person or exploiter we are attempting to keep away from the people we love and value. The Five-Part Safety System demonstrates how churches must have several levels of fencing such as awareness training, policies and procedures, background checks, skillful screening, and monitoring and oversight.
Texas Baptists Executive Board voted in February to renew our relationship with MinistrySafe and have leveraged this heightened awareness by continuing training opportunities around the state. For example, in early March, 105 people attended the MinistrySafe seminar held at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall. However, not only congregations from East Texas attended but also several churches from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex were present as well. Greg Love, one of the founding attorneys of MinistrySafe, led this five-hour training on how to implement policies and safety systems to create the most secure environments possible for our children and teenagers.
One of the interesting dynamics I observed at the MinistrySafe training was the small number of pastors in attendance. While it is important for staff and lay-people to attend the MinistrySafe training, I encourage every pastor to attend as well. As an Area Representative of Texas Baptists, and an interim pastor, I attended the recent workshop because I needed to go through this training again, and I wanted to communicate the high priority I place on this training to those who attended from my church. It is one thing to give lip service to what we say is important; it is another thing to lead by example. As we implement the proposed systems of MinistrySafe, I will not be the one who is hesitant to enact these processes; I will be leading the charge.
One of the main concepts discussed in Love’s presentation was that of “grooming” a child. This involves befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, and sometimes the family, to lower the child’s inhibitions with the
Congregations must do all they can to create the safest environment possible for children and those most vulnerable to sexual abuse. One child or individual harmed is one too many.
individual know you are following along and truly listening to them. Set the stage before an individual might speak up by paying attention to how you speak of life’s challenges and struggles. Treat sensitive issues with some level of confidence so the person can trust that you will not share their information carelessly. All of these pieces go together to create a safe and trusting environment for someone to speak about their abuse.
CARING FOR ABUSE SURVIVORS By Katie Swafford, Director of Counseling Services Survivors of abuse are all around you – whether you realize it or not. Statistics tell us that one in four females or one in six males will experience abuse before the age of 18. So let’s just use simple math to think through whether or not you know someone who has experienced abuse. If there are 100 females and 100 males in your church, statistics suggest at least 25 of those females and 16 of those males have experienced abuse, likely before the age of 18. That is a total of 41 people in a church of 200. How many people are in your church? Once you realize that there are likely people around you, in church every Sunday, that have experienced the traumatic and tragic effects of abuse, it may shock you. Abuse is not something frequently discussed in conversation at church fellowships, Bible studies, or even small
groups. Sexual abuse, in particular, may even be kept more secretive as individuals and families struggle to cope with the unthinkable. Understanding why sexual abuse occurs is beyond most of our comprehensions, yet it does occur. Individuals and families are impacted for years, if not lifetimes, from the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual scars. Help is available for abuse survivors. In fact, there are counseling resources specifically available for sexual abuse survivors through grants funded by the State of Texas. Groups like the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas and the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault provide support to survivors that live in Texas. In addition, many Christian counselors across the state have specialized training and/or certifications in trauma and sexual abuse to help meet the needs of survivors. It is important, as a congregant member, minister, or Bible study leader, to be aware of what you can do to support abuse survivors. BE A SAFE PLACE Dealing with and discussing sexual abuse is a sensitive issue. We must create a safe, trusting place for someone to share these deeply traumatic experiences. Creating a safe place means making genuine connections with people. Practice active listening skills such as a calm demeanor, listening without interrupting, a caring and compassionate tone of voice, and verbal cues and eye contact that let the
BE PRESENT Sharing any information about experience with abuse can be uncomfortable. Make sure you handle the information with care. Know the reporting laws in Texas and follow up on your duty to report as appropriate. But also know that you do not have to have all the answers for them or even need to “fix it” for them. Sympathize with the survivor, but do not try to tell them to move past it, forget about it, or that they should be over it by now. Refrain from spiritual “pat answers” that seek to defuse or minimize the emotion or intensity of the conversation. Be willing to walk alongside the individual and provide support as needed - whether that is to cry with them, or listen to their heartache or anger. Be present and comfortable with the tension of not having all the answers. BE A SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT This may look different depending on the circumstances, but be supportive by helping the individual connect to counseling resources or locating support groups to help them process their feelings and experiences. Encourage them to seek appropriate treatment even when they are afraid to do so or apprehensive about sharing and reliving their story. Be patient with them when they struggle. Pray with and for them as they engage with resources toward healing. Ask them how you can be of support and encouragement to them instead of assuming you know what is best. For more information on Texas Baptists Counseling Services, contact Director Katie Swafford at counselingservices @texasbaptists.org or call 800.388.2005. To attend a MinistrySafe training sign up at texasbaptists.org/ministrysafe.
2018 COOPERATIVE PROGRAM ANNUAL REPORT The 2018 CP Annual Report is on its way. Every time a gift is given to Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, Christ is shared, love is shown, and lives are transformed. Learn more about what God is doing through Texas Baptists at texasbaptists.org/cp.
EXPANDING CHURCH STARTING Church Starting and Multi-housing/House Church
STATS FOR 2018
159 11,157 1,044
New Churches Professions of Faith
New church plants, house churches, and partnerships
Texas Baptists Church Starting efforts include traditional church planting, multi-housing and house congregation efforts, and new partnerships in the Northwest and Michigan. Through these avenues, many lives have been changed and people have come to faith in Christ.
Baptisms APRIL 2019
IT’S BIGGER THAN HIP HOP West Tyler is a predominately AfricanAmerican and Hispanic community where domestic abuse is prevalent and many youth and young adults are in high-risk situations. Church Planter Jason Rhodes’ desire was to reach those in his community, however, he never expected that to happen through hip-hop music. Born and raised in West Tyler, Rhodes is a fifth generation “Tylerite.” He was raised in church, and since 2007, has been actively involved in vocational ministry. Rhodes served in various roles over the years while gaining teaching and
TEXAS BAPTISTS LIFE
preaching experience. In 2011, Rhodes served as Executive Pastor of Outreach under Pastor James Hawkins’ leadership at Higher Heights Baptist Church in Tyler.
“Outreach has always been a part of my ministry,” said Rhodes. “I love to connect with people, build relationships and be in the community.” Six years later, Rhodes felt called back to his community in West Tyler and began his ministry at Daybreak Church, a new church plant through Texas Baptists Church Starting.
By Kirsten McKimmey, Contributing Writer
UNIQUE OUTREACH MINISTRY DEVELOPS FOR COMMUNITY “What Daybreak Church is designed to do is engage those in the community who have not been engaged,” he said. “We have to put some boots on the ground, get out there, and engage those that feel like outcasts to the church at large.” With a unique community, Rhodes knew they would need a unique ministry for outreach. And after being introduced to Gospel hip-hop artist Lecrae, the idea of a hip-hop ministry was birthed. He often listened to Gospel hip-hop in his home
PHOTO BY YOMEX OWO
at the church and is open to the entire community. A group of eight Christian hip-hop artists called the God Squad, as well as others in the community, perform Gospel-centered rap, songs, and poems, followed by a brief word and prayer, and an altar call. “We all work together to bring change into the culture,” Rhodes said. “This outreach acts as a bridge between the community and the church, and is a conduit for discipleship.”
LIVES CHANGED THROUGH 3:16 LOUNGE Since beginning the ministry, Rhodes has seen people come to the church he never imagined. The impact has been great, and time and time again, they have seen the altar filled with people crying out to the Lord. “I love that 3:16 affords intimacy you may not get in a Bible study or during
“It was a renewal of life,” said Rhodes. Casey just graduated high school and continues to come to 3:16.
ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT FROM OTHER CHURCHES The 3:16 Lounge has quickly grown past Daybreak Church. Pastor Rhodes has worked with several other churches in the area to bring 3:16 Lounge to them, and hopes to host a citywide event this summer. Rhodes has also received encouragement and mentorship from a pastor over 120 miles away in Waco. Hiz House, another Texas Baptists church plant pastored by Juan Carreon, also uses hip-hop to reach their community. “Just talking with Pastor Juan has been such a great inspiration, listening to his stories of how they maneuver the ministry
“We all work together to bring change into the culture. This outreach acts as a bridge between the community and the church and is a conduit for discipleship.” Sunday service,” said Rhodes. “It provides an opportunity for people to loosen up through the music and atmosphere, which makes them more receptive to Christ. People feel they have a chance to speak and that their voices are important and their issues are valid.”
and car and soon his children requested that above other secular music. Rhodes knew that if this music could change his children, it could infiltrate the community of West Tyler. “Hip-hop has become a part of our culture and has been growing ever since the 70s. We found it as an effective tool to engage,” he said. By 2018, after months of prayer, with the help of his church and local Christian hip-hop artists, Rhodes began a ministry called “3:16 Lounge.” Catering to youth and young adults, 3:16 Lounge is held every second and fourth Saturday night
Many people have come to know Christ through 3:16 Lounge, including a young girl named Casey, who, like many, had a difficult upbringing. Casey decided to come to 3:16 Lounge with her sister, Jasmine, who performed poetry. Casey, though reserved, continued to return each Saturday, and began coming out of her shell. “One particular Saturday, Casey came to 3:16 and performed a song,” said Rhodes. “Afterward, she gave her testimony of how 3:16 helped show her that she was valuable and important. She said she felt that she was loved and that God had a purpose for her life. She said that is something she had never felt before.”
in their community,” said Rhodes. “Some of the greatest advice Pastor Juan gave me was to embrace who God created me to be, and to be a voice in the culture of our community.” “Music is such a powerful tool,” Rhodes continued. “Musicians in our society have always been those who have been the spokesmen for important issues, for human rights, for civil rights. It’s a form of art that can speak to the hearts of the people. I encourage churches to get involved with this in their own communities and cities because it can be impactful to those you thought you could never reach before.” Gifts to the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program and Mary Hill Davis Offering fund Church Starting efforts like Daybreak Church, engaging unreached people with the Gospel. To learn more about Texas Baptists Church Starting, visit texasbaptists.org/churchstarting or call 214.828.5217.
EMBRACING COWBOY CHURCH CULTURE by riley robertson, contributing writer
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PHOTO BY PRISCILLA DU PREEZ
At Archer City Cowboy Church, a group of people who desire a closer walk with Jesus gathers each week. The 30 people who have been baptized in the past year are evidence of their faithfulness to share the Gospel. “There’s nothing greater than watching someone who walked through the doors of our church grow in the Lord,” said Paula Allen, who started Archer City Cowboy Church with her husband Rick a little over a year ago. Rick Allen is originally from Archer City, a community just south of Wichita Falls, but a variety of jobs, both in the oil field and in pastoral ministry, took he and Paula to places like Kansas, North Dakota, Montana, and other spots in Texas. Eventually, they made it back to Archer City, where Rick took up a job with the Sheriff’s Department and Paula worked at Oodles Supermarket, a local grocery store. Archer City is a smaller town, and they know the people there well. “If you forgot what you did yesterday, just ask somebody,” Rick joked. “They’ll tell you what you did.”
FAITH RISES FROM HARDSHIPS
They got to know the community even better after a few events. In March 2017, Paula’s stepfather passed away. He was the last parent between the couple. Then in July, one of Paula’s friends passed away from cancer. Her friend had lived in the community for more than 20 years, and Paula helped raise money from people in the area for the funeral. Shortly after that, in December of the same year, one of Rick’s friends passed away as well. Rick was asked to do the funeral, and people were impressed with his ability to preach and facilitate during such difficult circumstances.
One Sunday, the Allens put the horse trough they use for baptisms in the back of their trailer and filled it with chilly water. Nineteen people were baptized that day. But it was not only special because so many people stepped into that horse trough, it was also special because the first one to be baptized was their 10-year-old son Zechariah. After Zechariah was baptized, 18 people followed, including three whole families. Then, about 11 more people were baptized in the months following. It is clear that God is working in and through Archer City Cowboy Church.
It would take months to process the loss of such close friends and family members. During the grieving, Paula and Rick stood out as pillars of hope in the community, pointing people to Jesus when it was easier to look nearly anywhere else. They bonded even more with the community they already knew so well. In January of the following year, Paula knew it was time to start a church.
People are indeed getting closer to the Lord and growing at Archer City Cowboy Church, so much so, that the Allens joked that they have too many people volunteering to serve. Their morning and evening services have been long and engaging. They mentioned that one Sunday morning, they planned to sing five songs and ended up singing 10.
Rick and Paula worked through Texas Baptists Church Starting, funded, through gifts to the Cooperative Program to plant Archer City Cowboy Church.
“We have people who have known the Lord their whole lives,” Paula said. “They say they don’t think they’ve ever experienced church the way it is at our church.”
“They’re out there meeting people, reaching out to people, and baptizing people,” said Mateo Rendon, Texas Baptists church starter. “That’s what it’s all about.”
To add to the presence they have already developed, Archer City Cowboy Church intends to purchase land in the area to build a building for worship, fellowship, and a facility where they can have kids bring their horses to ride. Ultimately, their desire is to see more come to faith in God and grow through discipleship.
Although they had no difficulty getting out in the community, they did have some trouble finding a place to meet. They worshipped in one place for three weeks, another place for a week, and eventually, the local American Legion allowed them to use their facilities until they were able to move into a building on Main Street recently. While securing a meeting place was challenging, the church did not hesitate to baptize friends and neighbors who professed faith in Christ. In the past year, they have baptized about 30 people. “As soon as it warms up, we’ll pass the 40 mark,” Paula said.
“We see so many people growing in the Lord and getting stronger in the Lord,” Rick said. “People are getting stronger in the Lord all the time. That is my main desire—that they would get closer to the Lord and that it would never stop.” Gifts to the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program and Mary Hill Davis Offering fund Church Starting efforts like Archer City Cowboy Church, engaging unreached people with the Gospel. To learn more about Texas Baptists Church Starting, visit texasbaptists.org/churchstarting or call 214.828.5217.
JOINING GOD’S WORK IN THE NORTHWEST By Kalie Lowrie, News Director
MORE THAN 4 MILLION PEOPLE LIVE IN THE GREATER SEATTLE AREA. THE CITY IS HOME TO NATIONAL CORPORATIONS INCLUDING AMAZON, STARBUCKS, UPS AND MICROSOFT. IT’S A LAND OF GREAT OPPORTUNITY AND WEALTH, YET AN UNDERCURRENT OF SPIRITUAL POVERTY EXISTS.
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Andrew and Kim Arthur moved to Seattle in 2011 to plant a church and found the spiritual darkness truly astounding. They described the area as a pre-Christian society, because Christianity has never developed or flourished in the Northwestern city. The Hallows Church, planted by the Arthurs in the Fremont area, is seven years old, and now one of the oldest evangelical churches in Seattle, surpassed only by one other church which has existed for 10 years. The church planting work in Seattle requires perseverance on every side, according to Andrew. Due to the transient nature of the city, a new group of people moves in and out of their church about every two years. “We need partners who are praying for us,” said Kim. “For God’s grace to break through us and to raise up laborers who are not distracted or discouraged. Partners who will send people to encourage. It is mission work right here in the States.”
NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH NORTHWEST BAPTISTS Andrew and Kim shared their testimony with a group of 20 Texas Baptists on a Vision Tour of Seattle from February 25-27. Through a new partnership with the Northwest Baptist Convention, church planting in the Northwest is now an area of emphasis for Texas Baptists. Tom Howe, associate director of the Missions Team, director of Church Starting, Church Starting Partnerships and Re-plants for Texas Baptists, coordinated the Seattle trip, as well as five other Vision Tours in the Spring of 2019 to cities in
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Oregon, Washington, Northern Idaho, as well as Michigan. “The Seattle Vision Tour was a tremendous blessing,” said Ridge Adams, pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in Temple. “Being able to meet church planters who are plowing the fields that are ripe for harvest was definitely the highlight of the trip. Even in the midst of a region that is so diverse and unchurched, I could see God working in every people group and ministry area that we visited.” During the Vision Tour, three groups of Texas Baptists visited new church plants, areas where new work could be started, as well as college campuses. The groups heard testimonies from local church planters about how God is at work, needs they have, and opportunities for partnerships. “God has provided a vision and a way to reach the souls of Seattle in a very strategic way,” observed Santiago Rodriguez, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Nuevo Comienzos in Humble, TX. “All of the missionaries have a clear understanding and strategic path to reach each community and God has provided unity of spirit and collaboration.”
REACHING THE NEXT GENERATION ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES Corey Stewart, minister to College Students at First Baptist Church in Amarillo, went on the trip to see how his church could potentially partner with college ministry. Currently, there is not an evangelical presence on any of the college campuses in Seattle.
I AM EXCITED FOR WHAT IS TO COME FROM THIS PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN TEXAS AND SEATTLE AND TO SEE WHAT GOD IS GOING TO DO IN THE YEARS TO COME. – Corey Stewart, FBC Amarillo
“With the area of my ministry being college students, my passion is for reaching this generation,” said Stewart. “Sharing that passion with the churches in the Seattle area made me feel as if real work and ministry can happen there. I am excited for what is to come from this partnership between Texas and Seattle and to see what God is going to do in the years to come.” Texas Baptists currently have one Go Now Missions student missionary serving in Seattle and have sent many student mission teams to the Northwest for ministry. Texas Baptists Collegiate Ministry plans to continue to work alongside Northwest College Ministry to train leaders on how to minister to college students and begin campus ministries.
AN INVITATION TO JOIN Top left: Chad Bertrand, from Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston. Top right: Andrew Arthur, pastor of The Hallows Church in downtown Seattle. Middle left: Texas Baptists pray for Associate Pastor of New Story Church in Renton, WA. Middle right: Pastor Cing Sang of the Zomi Baptist Church in Tukwila, WA, and his wife Cing Deih Lian. Bottom: Texas Baptists Collegiate Ministries representatives visit with Ken Harmon, director of Northwest Collegiate Ministries, on college campuses in Washington.
As he welcomed the Texas Baptists to Seattle on the first night of the trip, Gary Irby, director of Church Planting for NBC, extended an invitation for the church leaders, and broader Texas Baptists family, to join the work God is doing in the Northwest. “We’ve got a lot of work to do and we need help,” said Irby. “We need church planters to be raised up and church planters to come. This is international missions without a passport…God is at work here — the question is whether you are supposed to join us.” For more information on how your church can partner with church planting efforts in the Northwest or Michigan, contact Tom Howe, associate director of the Missions Team, director of Church Starting, Church Starting Partnerships and Re-plants. Email tom.howe @texasbaptists.org or call 214.828.5278.
WE’VE GOT A LOT OF WORK TO DO AND WE NEED HELP. THIS IS INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS WITHOUT A PASSPORT – Gary Irby, Northwest Baptist Convention APRIL 2019
CHANGING LIVES AND RESHAPING CHURCH By Katrina Jarnutowski Contributing Writer
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EMOTIONAL HEALTH Some churches of 15 to 20 members have baptized 20 to 30 new believers. Caskey, who serves as a Texas Baptists multi-house church catalyst, said that today, planting churches is not only a calling but a passion.
disconnected from his former Christian community. Figueroa said he was unprepared for the lack of acceptance he would experience as a previouslyincarcerated Christian trying to explore old relationships and church scenes.
“I had a man tell me one time a lot of people [plant churches] out of aspiration …but it’s almost as if you have no choice,” Caskey recalled.
In 2017, Figueroa met Bobby Herring, an organic church planter, but after a few months could not commit to the ministry and church. I told him, “I love the [old] lifestyle. I can’t let it go,” Figueroa said.
One house church pastor Caskey works with is Bobby “Tre9” Herring. In 2012, Herring launched Out Tha Box Church and the church quickly multiplied. Today, between 200 and 250 people meet in groups of 10 to 20 at Out Tha Box locations including six in Houston, three in Bay City, one in Dallas, and even one in Jamaica. Because these groups are small, Herring said they can minister deep into unreached communities. Further, attendees are equipped to personally invest in each other’s lives and directly meet immediate, practical needs.
RESPONDING TO A CRY FOR HELP “I need help. I need help,” James Figueroa said after about two decades of drugs, alcohol, and crime that landed him in state and federal prison on more than five occasions. Figueroa said his story began when he was two months old after being taken from his mother and father and placed under the care of Child Protective Services. In Houston, Guy Caskey is planting churches that are not designed to grow in membership – these churches are meant to multiply in number. These are house churches – groups of about 15 to 20 people who meet in private homes and apartments to worship, fellowship, and lean into God’s word. When growing groups finally pack a home, rather than finding a bigger space, the church plants another church, and a new generation is born. “We have a big enough vision to think small,” Caskey said of his network of about 75 plants in the Houston area.
The subsequent years of hurt and hate gave Figueroa an insatiable craving for love, belonging, and acceptance that led him to the crutches of drugs, alcohol, robbery, assault, and dangerous relationships. In prison, it was a gang that showed Figueroa the love and acceptance he craved, prompting him to more dangerous ways of lashing out as he labored for the attention of its members. During his time in prison, Figueroa gave his life to Christ after feeling the love of God through a Kairos ministry program. However, being released from prison and rehabilitation meant he was
After another incarceration and a narrow brush with a 25-to-life sentence, Figueroa called Herring for help. “When I came back, it was…like a prodigal son moment,” Figueroa said. Figueroa was ready to make a change. “I told him…if you’ll just go all in, get plugged in, God can deliver you from all the problems you’re having,” Herring said. Through Herring’s ministry, Figueroa was placed in outpatient rehab, sheltered by their transition house, mentored and offered classes. Today, Herring is a youth recovery coach at Unlimited Visions Aftercare, advocating for youth in the court system and mentoring a group of children. While undergoing treatments to remove tattoos from his face, neck and hands, Figueroa is working toward his Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor certification with the intention of developing a recovery program through Herring’s ministry. Herring’s church is important for guys like me, Figueroa said. “There’s not many that do it, so it’s real special what he’s doing out here.” “It’s a beautiful thing to be simple church,” Herring said. Gifts to the Mary Hill Davis Offering fund the start of new Multi-housing and house congregations around Texas. For more information, contact Mario Gonzalez at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 214.828.5389.
YEARS IN THE MAKING, GODâ€™S SURPRISES NEVER CEASE By John Hall, Contributing Writer
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PHOTO BY MARCOS LUIZ
Gathering the day after Thanksgiving, Iglesia El Camino in Pharr had plenty to celebrate. They were meeting in a new home for the first time. The house church was growing in energy and depth. The 14 people there came together for a meal, prayer, and a Bible study. They sang praises to God. Then, they discussed the parable of the prodigal son from Luke 15. The story details the journey of a young man who asks for his inheritance early only to squander it all. Then he returns to beg for a job from his father. Instead, his father sees the son coming in the distance and runs to him, welcoming him with open arms. Esmeralda Yado, who leads the church with her husband, Agustin, asked if anyone in the group could relate to the prodigal son.
Sensing a prodding from God, she then took the next step: Would anyone like to start a relationship with God? “I lost it when my mother-in-law raised her hand,” Esmeralda said. “I completely lost it. I looked at my husband like, ‘Is this really happening?” Agustin was just as astounded. “It took a couple of double takes to see what was going on. Right after that, my father raised his hand.”
Esmeralda and Agustin had prayed for the couple for years. His parents were nominally Catholic, but had no strong connection to any congregation. The Yados invited the parents to church events, but it was only after the Yados started a house church that they came.
Other church members are inspired by the couple’s commitment to Christ and encouraged by their growth. Victoriano prays for at least an hour each morning at the beginning of his day. He lifts people’s petitions to the Lord, asks for guidance and seeks the Lord’s wisdom.
They were welcomed with open arms. They connected with others in a comfortable setting and a warm meal. They said little but listened a lot. The services felt tailored to them and their needs personally.
“I feel like such a weight has been lifted,” Victoriano said. “Christ has lifted a burden from my life.”
House churches often feel that way for those who prefer them to traditional congregations. Iglesia El Camino is part of a growing network of house churches in the Rio Grande Valley, a key approach for Texas Baptists in reaching people along the Texas-Mexico border that maximizes resources and evangelistic zeal.
“I feel like such a weight has been lifted. Christ has lifted a burden from my life.” –Victoriano Yado Based on the principles leaders see in the early churches of the biblical book of Acts, house churches are crucial in spreading the gospel in the McAllen area, where 42.7 percent of people claim no religion at all. “It’s been years and years that we’ve been working with them,” Esmeralda said. “After Thanksgiving, we had a meeting. We saw the Holy Spirit working in their lives. We saw God working in their lives. They came to faith that day.” Since that night, Maria and Victoriano Yado have grown in their newfound faith. They’ve continued listening to the group. Now they ask questions as well and participate in the discussion.
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Giving their lives to Christ has radically changed their perspective. They see God working all around them. Recently, their house had some plumbing issues. They heard that the pastor of the Baptist church behind their home was also a plumber and asked him to come look at the situation. They visited while he resolved the problem. When it was time to settle the bill, the pastor told them there was no charge. “God provided,” Esmeralda said. “They’re seeing these things. God is a provider. It’s not just coincidence or luck.” “My life is so tranquil now,” Maria said. “I have a sense of peace.” The testimony reminds the Yados to be faithful to carry out the Great Commission, particularly in making disciples of family members. Too often, they felt like they would never be the ones God would use to reach Maria and Victoriano, but they pressed forward. “I just could not see myself avoiding that and having to answer to God when my time comes,” Agustin said. “Why didn’t I engage? Why didn’t I take the time? Why didn’t I try to evangelize? I wasn’t comfortable for how I’d answer that.” Now, he won’t have to answer the question. His parents can answer for him as they celebrate together. Gifts to the Mary Hill Davis Offering fund the start of new Multi-housing and house congregations around Texas. For more information, contact Mario Gonzalez at email@example.com or by calling 214.828.5389.
PASAN LOS AÑOS PERO DIOS NO DEJA DE SORPRENDERNOS Por John Hall, Contributing Writer Al reunirse el día después del Día de Acción de Gracias, la Iglesia El Camino en Pharr tuvo mucho que celebrar. Se reunían en un nuevo hogar por primera vez. La iglesia en casa estaba creciendo en energía y profundidad. Las 14 personas allí se reunieron para comer, orar y estudiar la Biblia. Cantaban alabanzas a Dios. Luego, aprendieron de la parábola del hijo pródigo de Lucas 15. La historia detalla la vida de un joven que le pide su herencia temprano a su padre, solo para desperdiciarla toda. Después regresa a pedirle un trabajo a su padre. En cambio, su padre ve al hijo que viene en la distancia y corre hacia él, dándole la bienvenida con los brazos abiertos. Esmeralda Yado, quien dirige la iglesia con su esposo, Agustín, preguntó si alguien en el grupo podía identificarse con el hijo pródigo.
Sintiendo una insistencia de Dios, ella dio el siguiente paso: ¿Alguien quisiera comenzar una relación con Dios?
"Me emocioné tanto cuando mi suegra levantó la mano", dijo Esmeralda. "Perdí el sentido. Miré a mi marido pensando "¿Esto está sucediendo realmente?" Agustín estaba igual de asombrado. “Volteó varias veces para ver qué estaba pasando. Justo después de eso, mi padre levantó la mano.” Esmeralda y Agustín habían orado por la pareja durante años. Sus padres eran nominalmente católicos, pero no tenían una conexión fuerte con ninguna
Basados en los principios que los líderes ven en las iglesias del libro bíblico de Hechos, las iglesias en las casas son cruciales para difundir el evangelio en el área de McAllen, donde el 42.7 por ciento de las personas afirma no tener religión alguna.
que el pastor de la iglesia bautista detrás de su casa también era un plomero y le pidieron que viniera a ver la situación. Hablaron con el mientras que él resolvía el problema. Cuando llegó el momento de pagar, el pastor les dijo que no había cargos.
"Por años y años que trabajamos con ellos", dijo Esmeralda. “Después del Día de Acción de Gracias, tuvimos una reunión. Vimos al Espíritu Santo obrando en sus vidas. Vimos a Dios trabajando en sus vidas. Ellos vinieron a la fe ese día.”
“Dios proveyó,” dijo Esmeralda. "Ellos están viendo estas cosas. Dios es un proveedor. No es solo coincidencia o suerte."
Desde esa noche, María y Victoriano Yado han crecido en su nueva fe. Han seguido dirigiendo al grupo. Ahora ellos también hacen preguntas y participan en la discusión. Otros miembros de la iglesia están inspirados por el compromiso de la pareja con Cristo y son alentados por su crecimiento. Victoriano ora por lo menos una hora cada mañana al comienzo de su día. Levanta las peticiones de la gente al Señor, pide orientación y busca la sabiduría del Señor.
“Siento que tal peso ha sido levantado. Cristo ha levantado una carga de mi vida.” –Victoriano Yado congregación. Los Yados invitaban a los padres a los eventos de la iglesia, pero fue solo después de que los Yados comenzaron una iglesia en el hogar que empezaron a asistir. Fueron recibidos con los brazos abiertos. Se conectaron con otros en un ambiente cómodo y una cena caliente. Dijeron poco, pero escucharon mucho. Los servicios parecían ser adaptados para ellos y sus necesidades personales. Las iglesias en casas a menudo se sienten así para aquellos que las prefieren a las congregaciones tradicionales. La Iglesia El Camino es parte de una creciente red de iglesias en casa en el Valle del Río Grande, un enfoque clave para que los Bautistas de Texas alcancen a las personas a lo largo de la frontera de Texas y México y que maximicen los recursos y el celo evangelístico.
"Siento que tal peso ha sido levantado", dijo Victoriano. "Cristo ha levantado una carga de mi vida.” Dar sus vidas a Cristo ha cambiado radicalmente su perspectiva. Ven a Dios trabajando a su alrededor. Recientemente, su casa tuvo algunos problemas de plomería. Escucharon
"Mi vida es tan tranquila ahora," dijo María. "Tengo una sensación de paz". El testimonio recuerda a los Yados que deben ser fieles a llevar a cabo la Gran Comisión, particularmente al hacer discípulos de los miembros de la familia. Muy a menudo, sentían que nunca serían los que Dios usaría para alcanzar a María y Victoriano, pero siguieron adelante. "Simplemente no podía verme ministrándolos a ellos y tendríamos que responderle a Dios cuando llegara mi hora," dijo Agustín. "¿Por qué no me comprometí? ¿Por qué no me tomé el tiempo? ¿Por qué no traté de evangelizar? No me sentía cómodo por la forma en la que tendría que responder eso.” Ahora, él no tendrá que responder la pregunta. Sus padres pueden responder por él mientras celebran juntos. Donaciones para la ofrenda de Mary Hill Davis financian el inicio de nuevas iglesias en casa y obras en multi-familiares alrededor de Texas. Para más información comuníquese con Mario Alberto Gonzalez en marioalberto.gonzalez @texasbaptists.org o llame al 214.828.5389.
Ahora, él no tendrá que responder la pregunta. Sus padres pueden responder por él mientras celebran juntos.
RETURNING HOME By: Katie Best-Richmond Stark College & Seminary
Many Christians go on mission trips as a way to serve others from different cultures and situations. However, what if your mission was not to travel to some far unknown land, but rather, to return to the place your parents were born? What if your mission was to take the knowledge you obtained in seminary and transport it to the country and people you know and love? Marco Barron, a student at Stark College & Seminary and the Youth Minister at Segunda Iglesia Bautista in Corpus Christi, found his greatest mission was just that: to return to his parents’ hometown and spread the love of God. “A few years ago, I was walking through the streets of a small community in San Luis Potosi, North Central Mexico where my parents were born,” Marco tells us. “I had walked these streets many times before, but this time it was very different. As a child, these streets were overflowing with people. It was a community where everyone knew and cared for each other. But this time, it felt like I was walking through the streets of a very different town.” As the living conditions of his town deteriorated with little access to basic necessities such as potable water and
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education, the place Marco knew and loved transformed into a place where the streets were empty and people feared going outside. “I felt God asking me, ‘Marco, are they exempt from my salvation or from my love?’” he shared. “At that moment, God gave me a new vision for this community that radically transformed the way I viewed missions and ministry. Jesus commanded his disciples to go to all nations, making disciples, teaching them to obey His commands. He called me back home to fulfill this very commission with my own people and within my own culture.” After a year of praying and planning, Marco and a friend put everything into action during the week of Thanksgiving this past year. With the help of local pastors, they assessed the spiritual and physical needs of several communities. “In order to create true transformation, the church should be involved in both of these aspects of life,” Marco explained. To do this, they first addressed the spiritual needs. Many believers in those communities lived a Christian life, but did not know how to share the Gospel. Many
thought they only needed to attend church and stay away from the ways of the world to be right with God. Often, people relied entirely on their pastor to help them grow spiritually, but if they only attended church once or twice a week, it was not enough. Additionally, without proper instruction or attention, many left the church. Because of this, their trip consisted of teaching fellow believers how to disciple and share the Gospel of Christ so they in turn could help their local pastor foster spiritual growth in their own communities. “We visited three established churches and trained 34 Christians,” Marco said. “We preached at two churches, and visited 15 homes so our trainees could get hands-on practice. We prayed for the sick, shared Jesus with their families and friends, and held Bible studies in homes.”
One of the pivotal moments in that first trip occurred during a conversation with one sister in Christ. “Until this moment, I thought that all I had to do was come to church and bring people to church,” she told Marco. “Now, I want to bring church to them.” Marco said this is just the beginning of God’s plan.
“We will continue to visit our family in Christ in Mexico and equip them with evangelical tools and biblical studies.”
community leaders, it is our responsibility to help everyone apply the word of God to their lives and to our world.”
In the following months, Marco plans to begin a project to cater to the physical needs of the town as well. They plan to bring 20 new computers and media equipment to a small community high school in San Luis Potosi and help fund the local community dining room, which feeds 35-45 people in need.
Marco is humbled and honored to transfer this information from the classroom to his community in Mexico. He is excited to see the ways in which God will continue to work through the people and place he holds near to his heart.
“I can’t help but think of the ways in which Stark College & Seminary has equipped me to serve others in Mexico,” Marco said. “One class in particular, Principles of Teaching in the Church, taught by Dr. Chris Stapper, has greatly influenced my ministry. In that class, I learned that many people have knowledge of the Bible, but not everyone knows how to apply that knowledge to their lives. As pastors and
Are you interested in developing your skills as a leader in the local church? Contact Stark College & Seminary at stark.edu or 361.991.9403.
CALLED TO SERVE. PREPARED TO LEAD.
go therefore Whether in the classroom, boardroom, or courtroom, God has called you to a great mission. Dallas Baptist University prepares you to be a servant leader, so you can transform the world with Christ, regardless of your calling. 32
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