Texas Baptists Life, Volume 8 Issue 3

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Texas Baptists put CP to work during COVID-19 “When times get hard, we lock our arms together and we go to work for the Kingdom.” – President Michael Evans, Sr.


Volume 8



Contents Cooperative Program at work during COVID-19 The Texas Baptists Cooperative Program allows Baptist churches from around the state to gather their resources together to make a big difference. “When we all come together people get taken care of. And that’s who we are as Texas Baptists. When times get hard, we lock our arms together and we go to work for the Kingdom.” – President Michael Evans, Sr.

Publication Team 7


Statewide survey indicates health levels of Texas pastors


Feeding the hungry through collaborative ministry


A survey conducted by Texas Baptists Church Health Initiative in San Antonio reveals health trends across all aspects of pastors’ lives.

Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield is feeding families and affected by the pandemic and sharing God’s love with help from volunteers, TBM and Texas Baptists.

See how the Mary Hill Davis Offering® is helping small churches minister to their communities and keep their church building standing strong.


BOUNCE Back Day of Service

On June 27, middle and high school students participated in a day of service in their local communities through BOUNCE.


Pastor Relief: Caring for pastors as they care for others The Pastor Relief Fund and the Missions Team have been working to care for pastors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, both in Texas and beyond.

Helping small churches make big impacts

opens pay-as24 BSM you-can deli just as the pandemic hits At the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the BSM opens a deli that caters to students of all economic backgrounds.

chaplaincy 28 Hospital in the midst of a pandemic Read how Texas Baptist chaplains are making a difference as they minister to hospital patients, staff and families affected by COVID-19.



Contenido en español

Ayudar a Iglesia pequeñas, a generar grandes impactos Vea cómo la Ofrenda de Mary Hill Davis está ayudando a las pequeñas iglesias a ministrar a sus comunidades y mantener sus edificios de iglesias firmes.

Joshua Seth Minatrea Director of Communications Kalie Lowrie Associate Director of Communications/News Director Jeremy Honea Art Director Bonnie Shaw News Writer Maritza Solano Production Artist Caleb Arndt Graphic Designer Neil Williams 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 subscriptions@txb.org.





Discover Where You Belong Whether in the classroom, boardroom, or courtroom, God has called you to a great mission. DBU prepares you to be a servant leader, so you can transform the world for Christ. Start your journey at www.dbu.edu/prepare.

from the


Hello, Texas Baptists! I cannot count the number of times in the past four months I have heard or spoken the word “unprecedented.” I have probably heard or used that word more in the last four months than in all of the other years of my life. However, I cannot think of a better word to use to describe the months of March to June (and beyond) than with the word “unprecedented.” Here at the Texas Baptist offices, we closed the doors and instructed everyone to work from home on Monday, March 16. Even though a few of us have had a few meetings here at our building, for the most part we have been doing what most of you have been doing, working from home and making the best of unprecedented days! I want to thank you for your faithfulness during these days. You have been steadfast in your prayer, service and giving. The times are certainly challenging, but so many of you have risen to the challenge and I thank you. In days like these, ministry opportunities do not go away or even decrease. Rather, the chances to serve and help and share only increase. Therefore, on behalf of our whole Texas Baptist staff and family, thank you. We simply could not have met so many needs and responded to so many challenges these past several weeks without your support. Here are a couple of examples. First of all, because of people like you and churches like yours we have been able to provide financial assistance, to buy groceries and pay bills, to approximately 1,000 pastors and their families here in Texas and in other places of the world such as Mexico, Peru, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Tanzania. Additionally, through your generosity, we have raised funds to help our Texas Baptist encampments survive what is probably their most challenging summer ever. I am so grateful for the leadership of the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation in these areas. If you would like to give to one of these causes there is still opportunity. Visit txb. org/tbmf for more information.

Also, I’m grateful to our Communications and IT staff for all the help they have provided our churches in learning how to conduct online/virtual worship and Bible Study. We are here to help because the virtual world is here to stay. Finally, as so many are working through the return to in-person worship and Bible Study, please know we are praying for you and have provided some great help and tools on our website txb.org. We will continue to adjust and move forward. There will be some really good days ahead of us all. Stay the course and know our Lord is with you and for you.

¡Hola, Bautistas de Texas! No puedo contar las veces durante los pasados cuatro meses cuando he escuchado o dicho las palabras “sin precedentes”. Probablemente he escuchado o usado esas palabras más en los pasados cuatro meses que en el resto de los años de mi vida. Sin embargo, no puedo pensar en mejores palabras para describir los meses de marzo a junio (y más allá) que con las palabras “sin precedentes”. Aquí en las oficinas de los Bautistas de Texas, cerramos las puertas y dimos instrucciones de que todos trabajaran desde sus hogares el lunes 16 de marzo. A pesar de que algunos de nosotros hemos tenido una pocas reuniones aquí en nuestro edificio, por la mayor parte hemos estado haciendo lo que la mayoría de ustedes ha estado haciendo, trabajando desde casa y haciendo lo mejor de estos días sin precedentes. Deseo agradecerle por su fidelidad durante este tiempo. Usted ha sido fiel en sus oraciones, servicio, y ofrendas. Los tiempos ciertamente son desafiantes, pero muchos de ustedes han estado a la altura del desafío, y les doy las gracias. En tiempos como estos, las oportunidades para ministrar no desaparecen ni disminuyen. Más bien, las oportunidades para ayudar y servir solamente aumentan. Por lo tanto, a nombre de todo nuestro

personal y familias Bautistas de Texas, gracias. Simplemente no pudiéramos satisfacer tantas necesidades y respondido a tantos desafíos estas pasadas semanas sin su apoyo. He aquí algunos ejemplos. Primero que todo, debido a que personas como usted e iglesias como la suya, hemos podido proveer ayuda económica, comprar alimentos y pagar cuentas de aproximadamente 1,000 pastores y sus familias aquí en Texas y en otros lugares en el mundo como México, Perú, Sierra Leona, Uganda, y Tanzania. Además, a través de su generosidad, hemos levantado fondos para ayudar a nuestros campamentos Bautistas de Texas a sobrevivir lo que es probablemente el verano más desafiante de todos. Estoy muy agradecido por el liderazgo de la Fundación de Misiones Bautistas de Texas en estas áreas. Si le interesa ofrendar a una de estas causas, todavía hay oportunidad de hacerlo. Visite txb.org/tbmf para mayor información. Además, estoy agradecido por nuestro personal de Comunicaciones e Informática por toda la ayuda que han provisto a nuestras iglesias al aprender cómo llevar a cabo adoración y estudio bíblico virtuales/ en línea. Estamos aquí para ayudar porque el mundo virtual está aquí para quedarse. Por último, según muchos están determinando reanudar la adoración y el estudio bíblico en persona, sepa que estamos orando por usted y hemos provisto gran ayuda y herramientas en nuestra página web txb.org. Continuaremos haciendo ajustes y moviéndonos hacia adelante. Vendrán muchos días buenos por delante. Manténgase en curso y sepa que nuestro Señor está con usted y es por usted. Blessings & Bendiciones,





ONLINE » NOVEMBER 16 – 17 The 2020 Annual Meeting is moving online! For the first time in history, the Texas Baptist Annual Meeting will be held entirely online. Though our gathering may look different, you can be assured that the churches of the Convention will be encouraged and equipped, and that the name of the LORD will be glorified. Join us online this fall!

More information including registration and general schedule coming soon at txb.org/am


The Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas held a special called business meeting on June 16 to consider changes to the 2020 Annual Meeting in light of the global pandemic. The board unanimously approved a recommendation to move the meeting online upon consideration of the safety of participants, logistics of large gatherings, feasibility and other factors. Executive leaders also conferred with the Convention’s legal counsel and parliamentarian to ensure

an online format would fulfill constitutional requirements. Historically, the BGCT meeting has been moved two prior times, including in 1918, when the meeting was moved from November to December due to the spread of the Spanish Flu. Information on registering, voting and other aspects of the meeting will be mailed to Texas Baptist churches, and updates would also be posted to the Convention’s website at txb.org/am.

TRUETT SEMINARY TO OPEN EXTENSION CAMPUS IN SAN ANTONIO Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary has announced that it plans to launch an extension campus for the San Antonio region in 2021, seeking to reach students who cannot pursue traditional, in-residence theological education. The extension will exist to equip God-called people for gospel ministry in and alongside the local church.

The proposed extension campus will be housed at San Antonio’s Trinity Baptist Church. It will offer occasional courses beginning in Spring 2021, with the Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (MACM) and the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degrees beginning in the summer of 2021.

The Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission (CLC) announced that Michael Evans, Jr., has joined the team as the new Director of Public Policy. “We thank God for sending Michael Evans, Jr. to the CLC,” Gus Reyes, director of the CLC, said. “He is committed to Christ. This role is the natural culmination of his academic, spiritual and work experiences. His love for the local church is evident throughout his testimony. He will make longlasting ministry contributions for the cause of Christ in Texas Baptists and beyond.” As Director of Public Policy, Evans will lead the CLC’s efforts related to government and legislation. He will speak to elected legislators regarding the priorities set forth by the Christian Life Commissioners of Texas Baptists. Evans will also speak at churches across the state, educating them about governmental awareness and involvement. The CLC encourages Texas Baptists to engage in informed advocacy on public policy issues affecting their churches and communities.



Christian Life Commission Announces Michael Evans, Jr. As New Director of Public Policy


NEW STUDY Available now!

Do your circumstances determine your joy? Through Paul in his Letter to the Philippians, the Holy Spirit teaches us that as believers we are not victims of external circumstances, but God wants to use them to strengthen us, mold us, and make us exactly who He wants us to be. Have you made the choice to rejoice?




STCH Ministries has been active around the world during this COVID-19 pandemic, creatively reaching people for Christ. At Homes for Children and Homes for Families, staff first prioritized the safety of children and families. They also responded by creating new opportunities to meet needs through this crisis. House parents and resident coordinators became teachers, and more time at home permitted cooking classes, outdoor games and movie nights. These were relationship-building moments combined with fun, conversation and games. The Family Counseling ministry adapted to online appointments, where clients could access their counseling sessions at home or anywhere

they could find a private space. The Faith & Work and the Faith & Finances classes both went digital as well. Now, more than 80 people have enrolled in Zoom classes that reach from Houston and San Antonio to Corpus Christi, and even the Dominican Republic. STCH Ministries International also continued to meet needs in the Dominican Republic. They bought food in bulk and distributed it to families, sharing scriptures and praying for the families as the food was picked up. STCH has also asked their college-aged students to support and mentor the younger children while school is out and families are facing challenging times.

Dallas Baptist University hosted a drive-thru graduation ceremony, where staff and faculty lined the campus streets as graduates drove past.

Baptist University of the Americas (BUA) faculty and staff honored 2020 graduates by bringing the celebration to their homes.

At Baylor University, graduates’ names were displayed on the McLane Stadium megascreen.







A Texas Baptist Conversation on Race

Michael Evans, Sr., Texas Baptist president, and David Hardage, Texas Baptist executive director, discuss living and ministering in unusual days. Listen as they talk about recent racial injustices and ways churches can speak up and direct people to Jesus.

Learn more at txb.org/now


TEXAS A&M BSM The Texas A&M BSM in College Station hosted a BSM Finale event through YouTube premier on May 8. This hour-long, virtual program replaced year-end BSM events that were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the program, students led worship and shared about how they saw God work through ministries like freshman bible study, cross-cultural ministry and Beach Reach. The BSM also recognized its graduating seniors. After the event, students were invited to join private Zoom parties with their respective classes. “I really enjoyed this part of the event,” said Rebecca Hernandez, associate director of Aggie BSM. “It was great being with the seniors on their Zoom call and hearing how God has grown them during their time in college.”

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT ARLINGTON BSM The University of Texas Arlington BSM found a creative, safe and fun way to recognize their graduating seniors during social distancing this semester. Assistant Director Maggie Heartman delivered awards and gifts, which are usually presented during the May banquet, to their graduates’ homes while wearing a T-Rex costume for both humor and protection. While delivering awards, Heartman and another BSM worker caught up with students. Seniors had an opportunity to share about how they’ve seen God work through their time in college, something which was typically done during the May banquet. “It’s been a strange season, but it’s encouraging to see that the Great Commission hasn’t been paused,” Heartman said. “Students have continued to faithfully and obediently share the Gospel during this time.”

Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington has held six community food shares in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The church estimates that each week, the 1,500 boxes of food they prepared served over 900 families. “When we saw the number of people laid off and furloughed and the food lines growing in Dallas and Fort Worth, we wanted to do something to meet those needs,” said Veronica Giffith, a member of Cornerstone Baptist Church. Church staff and members, as well as volunteers from the community, work throughout the week to make these days possible. “It’s been a blessing to see people willing to sacrifice,” said Griffith. “To see them go above and beyond to reach our community.”

CALVARY BAPTIST CHURCH At Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, Pastor Julio Guarneri and his team of staff and volunteers are taking precautions to keep people safe within the church building. Some of these precautions include asking people to wear masks while entering and exiting the building, social distancing in the worship center through the use of adjustable, six-foot pew markers and sanitizing in between services. CBC helped members understand and adjust to these new regulations by sharing sanctuary walkthrough videos in both English and Spanish. “We’ve only been open one Sunday,” said Guarneri on June 22. “But during this time of transition, we’ve seen God work in many ways. One way is that people are more passionate about prayer and about serving.”






The average pastor was 5’10½” and weighed 214 pounds. Only 14% qualified as having a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI), while 46% were considered obese, including 6% who qualified as extremely obese.

By Kalie Lowrie, Associate Director of Communications | News Director Results from a statewide Pastor Health Survey conducted by the Texas Baptists Church Health Initiative of San Antonio provided valuable information on the health of pastors in Texas. Five hundred and sixty pastors affiliated with Texas Baptists participated in the confidential survey, a 13 percent response rate. The survey explored spiritual, physical, work, mental, financial and relational health. After reviewing the results, Ben Hanna, director of the Church Health Initiative met with the Church Health Initiative Team to determine what key issues related to pastoral health could be addressed through current and future convention resources. The team is composed of Baptist institution representatives, local pastors, health experts and convention staff.

Resources to address health needs: • The Whole Pastor blog by Pastor Bobby Contreras and other pastoral contributors • A comprehensive health pilot program in the San Antonio area that will shed light on the specific health needs and solutions for pastors statewide

Young, white pastors were more likely than others to have considered looking for another job or leaving the ministry entirely.

“The results from this survey will serve as a map that will guide our efforts to positively impact the health of our pastors,” said Hanna. “While we have a clearer picture of where we are, the next question is, ‘Where do we go from here?’ The Church Health Initiative is working to provide a clear path for holistic health.” The Church Health Initiative Team identified four key areas and resources for pastors to be developed in the coming months which included physical, mental, financial and relational. The Church Health Initiative of San Antonio is made possible through a grant from the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio. It is strengthened by partnerships with organizations that provide resources to churches including the Baptist Credit Union, the San Antonio Baptist Association, Guidestone and STCH Ministries.

• Videos from Texas Baptists Counseling Services to address burnout and chronic stress • Counseling Services for ministers and their families through the Texas Baptists Counseling Services Network and STCH Ministries • Grants and financial training for ministers through Texas Baptists Center for Financial Health

27% expressed the presence of critical financial issues.


The average pastor estimated spending 4.1 hours per week (or 35 minutes per day) in personal prayer. Nearly three out of 10 pastors pray fewer than two hours per week.

20% were experiencing at least one critical issue in the work-life category.

• For relational health, in partnership with Christian Unity Ministries, share “The 5 Principles of Unity” in an online format To read the full report and to learn more about the Church Health Initiative, visit txb.org/chi.



Findings Include:




Learn more about BOUNCE Student Disaster Recovery at txb.org/bounce





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Christian Education since 1908 Committed to safely opening our campuses for Fall 2020 with online degrees also available!

We are offering some new academic degrees for the Fall 2020 semester with the same great faith-based mission our founder Dr. James Wayland envisioned in 1908.


Share Wayland with those in your congregation who are craving a Christian education.



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Cooperative Program at work during COVID-19 When the coronavirus pandemic began to spread across the United States in early March, many of the day-to-day activities and in-person ministry our churches were involved in changed. As events were put postponed and physical gatherings faced restrictions, Texas Baptists joined together to find ways to minister to those in need and continue our mission of sharing Christ and showing love.

From hospital chaplains providing spiritual care for individuals facing life-threatening situations to college students sharing the Gospel over Zoom calls, God has been at work through Texas Baptist ministries and partners. The following stories depict a few of the countless ways your Cooperative Program Offerings have been used to faithfully serve across our state, country and around the world.


Watch this CP video at txb.org/cp1


Pastor Relief: Caring for pastors as they care for others AUGUST 2020 / TEX AS BAPTISTS LIFE

By Kalie Lowrie, Associate Director of Communications/News Director


In mid-March, as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across large portions of the world, cities, states and countries began to shut down. As the virus spread, many businesses closed and hundreds of thousands suddenly found themselves without work or income. Texas Baptists leaders began to hear of pastors across the state, particularly bi-vocational pastors, in need of immediate assistance.


334 556

grants were provided to Texas Baptist pastors

international pastors were assisted in Mexico, Sierra Leone, Peru, Uganda, Tanzania and Venezuela


Pastors continued to care for their congregations, regardless of the presence of a paycheck. Texas Baptist leaders desired to care for those who were caring for others in the midst of great need, whether they were in Texas or another country. By March 30, the Pastor Relief Fund was created to provide grants to pastors facing difficulties due to loss of employment or income. Within three months, more than 334 grants were provided to Texas Baptist pastors across a diverse ethnic and cultural network. However, Texas Baptists’ desire to meet the needs of pastors was not limited to the state of Texas. International mission partners also reached out to the Texas Baptist Missions Team to share stories of pastors in need of basic necessities like groceries. By joining with international partners, Texas Baptists have assisted more than 556 pastors and their families in Mexico, Sierra Leone, Peru, Uganda and Tanzania.

Caring for Texas pastors The Pastor Relief Fund sought to meet the needs of Texas Baptist churches by providing short-term financial support to bi-vocational and small church pastors who have experienced economic difficulties through the loss of employment or church salary as a result of COVID-19. In addition to the grants, all Texas Baptist pastors who applied were offered free access to Teladoc services for six months. “Covid-19 has created a financial crisis for many of our Texas Baptist pastors,” said Dowell Loftis, director of the Connections Team. “We are grateful that we were able to award grants and offer Teladoc services to Texas Baptists pastors who applied.” Grants were provided through endowments funds, as well as the Pastor Relief Fund, coordinated through the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation.

Caring for international pastors When Missions Director Josue Valerio heard prayer concerns from River Ministry missionaries about Mexican pastors facing economic hardships, he sought to find a way to help the ministers in need through a partnership with local Baptist associations and conventions. After reaching out to international partners about their needs, Texas Baptists joined resources with associational and convention partners to assist 293 pastors in Mexico, 81 pastors in Peru, 30 in Sierra Leone, 100 pastors in Tanzania and Uganda and 52 pastors in Venezuela. The Texas Baptists gifts to pastoral families were made possible through gifts to BGCT Worldwide and individual donations. “It made me realize, some of the practices that we have right now because of the crisis, are going to shape the way that we minister,” Valerio said. “We are focusing on our core values—making disciples, planting churches and caring for those in need. Those in need right now are pastors and their families, and this is a way we can help.” Valerio challenged ministry partners in Mexico, Peru, Uganda, Tanzania and Sierra Leone to match the donations given by the BGCT or to contribute a portion of the funds to each pastoral family in need. Most of the funds were used to purchase immediate essentials like food. In Peru, additional funds were provided for ministry to Venezuelan refugees who fled persecution in their home country. “I can say that all of them [ministry partners] have responded very positively to the point of matching what we are giving or going above and beyond what we are giving,” Valerio said. Texas Baptists received several notes from pastors and convention leaders

who expressed gratitude for the gifts provided during a difficult time. “The help you all provided to pastoral families in Monterrey is a confirmation that our Lord cares for his children. Thank you for your generous heart that has made this possible and has exhibited God’s love,” said Martin Suarez, president of Convencion Regional Bautista Santiago Hickey in Monterrey, Mexico. “This is a time when we have a great opportunity to be present and to be a comfort to others in the name of Jesus,” Valerio said.

“ I want to say thank you and God Bless you and BGCT for providing me with this financial support, more importantly, I thank you for your prayers. I praise God for our relationship and the work that you are doing to help churches continue the work God has given us!” Pastor Marc A. Flowers Bissonnet Baptist Church in Houston

“ Thank you very much for your help and for showing Christ’s love. May God continue to bless you abundantly.” Pastor Zetseat Bekele Ethiopian and Eritrean Christian Fellowship Church in San Antonio

“ We encourage church members, but there was no one [who] encouraged us. Today, I was more encouraged than I’ve ever been since I began this ministry..” Pastor Isaac Sui Baptist Convention of Tanzania

Feeding the hungry through collaborative ministry By Bonnie Shaw, News Writer “Where do you go if you can’t go to the church? That’s where people go when they are in need. It’s mission and ministry in hand, so when we’re serving people and being on mission, we are also making disciples,” Linda Stevens, cochair of the Bethlehem Baptist Church Food Pantry in Mansfield, said. Stevens’ passion for combining missions and ministry is what compelled her to restart the church’s food pantry a few years ago. She and two or three other volunteers met every Wednesday morning to pass out food to families in need in front of the church. This food pantry became a pivotal resource for the church’s community with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic.


One of Stevens’ favorite parts of the food pantry is building meaningful relationships with the families, as they saw them weekly. As Stevens and the other volunteers become more acquainted with the families, they were able to give customized groceries to them, such as diapers for families with infants.


Marilyn Harris, ministry leader at the food pantry, shared a story about a young woman who used to come to the food pantry monthly. One day, she came and asked for prayer, because her family was selling their house and moving to Alabama, where the cost of living was lower. They prayed, and the house sold within a month. The woman came back to the food pantry to pray with them again before she moved, and she also presented them with a check. “She said, ‘you have fed my family for so long, and I want to give something back,’” Harris remembered.

Bethlehem Baptist Church loves stories like this young woman’s, who came seeking physical help and found spiritual help along the way. Helping people until they can help themselves is another common theme at the food pantry, and it is one that has particularly evident with the onset of the pandemic, where more people than ever have found themselves in need of temporary assistance. As unemployment is on the rise, the church is working to feed as many people as possible until they can return to their jobs. The food pantry has seen a huge increase in the number of families coming to receive groceries. They have gone from serving an average of 30 families to assisting 150 families weekly.

Each car has a family of four to six people in it. In order to keep up with demand, Bethlehem Baptist volunteers pack a surplus of groceries based on the last week’s attendance. Harris explained that if they served 150 families one week, they prepare 175 grocery bags the next week. Their goal is to never turn anyone in need away.

Cooperative ministry To meet the rising needs, now 25 volunteers come to pass out food each Wednesday. The food pantry is receiving donations from a variety of sources in order to keep up with this growing need in their community. Church members and local stores have provided donations weekly, and the church also gets food


from the Tarrant County Food Bank. The church has also teamed up with Texas Baptist Men (TBM). Since the beginning of the pandemic, TBM has been hard at work. They have supplied 15,000 masks for medical professionals and first responders, 1,200 pairs of protective glasses for Baylor Scott & White Health and 100,000 meals through church pantries across Texas. Rand Jenkins, a TBM director of development, comes out weekly to assist with the transportation of food from the Tarrant County Food Pantry. Stevens explained that Jenkins has been a dedicated volunteer and extremely helpful as they seek to help their community.

Watch this CP video at txb.org/cp3

“We’re making sure that those families who are in need of food or groceries are getting taken care of. We are blessed as a church family to be a part of the BGCT,” Evans said. “When we all come together people get taken care of. And that’s who we are as Texas Baptists. When times get hard, we lock our arms together and we go to work for the Kingdom.”

“When we all come together people get taken care of. And that’s who we are as Texas Baptists. When times get hard, we lock our arms together and we go to work for the Kingdom.” – Michael Evans, Sr., pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church


Michael Evans, Sr., pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church and president of Texas Baptists, explained that the partnership with TBM to provide food is just one example of the importance of collaboration between Baptists. TBM is supported by the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, which is made possible through the donations of Baptist churches around Texas.


BSM opens a pay-as-you-can deli just as the pandemic hits By Elizabeth Coffee, San Antonio Regional Specialist There is an eerie feeling about most of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) campus. There are no students in crosswalks, few cars in parking lots and few lights on in the buildings. But on the campus’ northwest corner, there is a bustle of activity. A line of cars curved through the parking lot, filled with people waiting to be served meals and boxes of fresh produce by the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM).


Student ministry volunteers line the parking lot. One greets, one explains the social distancing protocols, one delivers food to a table outside, one sanitizes each container before placing it in a bag, one holds a sign that says “BSM Loves You” — and one prays.


The BSM opened Global Blends, the pay-as-you-can deli, in October 2019. They knew then that they were being innovative. What they did not know is that their innovation would become necessary. Today, amid a pandemic, with a church and university partnership and a newly incorporated drive-thru and delivery service, the deli is feeding hundreds of students weekly.

Robert Rueda, BSM director, sees this as an opportunity not only to serve the community but also to challenge churches to reimagine ministry. “This pandemic should transform us,” Rueda said. “If we go back to business as usual, we will miss an incredible opportunity. The hope is that the struggle, trial and shifting of our lives makes us stronger as a community of faith. That we come out as salt of the earth.” The deli is managed by Gabriela Izaguirre, a campus missionary intern. “Having this job means a lot to me because I have people in my life who have shown me love through food,” Izaguirre said. “I was the kind of student who we seek to serve at one point. I had to stretch $30 or $40 a month for food and gas. And now it’s a blessing to be in this role.” The BSM started off small selling out of a food truck. After proof-of-concept, the students decided to explore growing into a brick-andmortar location. “There is something powerful when faith and entrepreneurship come together,” Rueda said. “Ministry for our students looks like the everyday and I want to equip them for that.”


photos by Mark Menjivar

Rueda had been praying over the vacant commercial building adjacent to the BSM property for years. He saw an opportunity to partner with an expanding local congregation, BT Church, that was looking for a space for Sunday morning worship closer to campus.

“In a way, I have felt like I have been asked to build an ark and people don’t know what I’m doing,” Rueda said. “Some have told me I’m crazy and that what we are doing is not ministry. But even if people can’t see it, we welcome the fear and take a risk together.”

The university took notice of the deli after it conducted “So many students having to research to identify the decide on whether to use their rate of food insecurity in the money for gas or for lunch student population. It found meant something to us,” said that 44.2% of students were Nick Maddox, associate pastor food insecure. at BT Church. “The ministry of Jesus looked like feeding “I started with what was people and that opened an already in the community to opportunity for people to know him. We want to do that.” solve this and then worked to connect the dots for the university from there,” said The church charges nothing Jayshree Bhat, UTRGV to the BSM for use of the assistant vice president for commercial space during the the Office of Professional week and the BSM charges Education and Workforce nothing for use of their Development. auditorium on Sundays. During partnership conversations between Rueda and Bhat, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Students returned from AUGUST 2020 / TEX AS BAPTISTS LIFE

However, partnerships have not always come easy for Rueda.


spring break facing a new reality. And the university knew student food insecurity would only heighten in this time. The partnership changed but strengthened. “Little did we know that this was positioning us at such an important time in history,” Rueda said. “We did not know that we were readying ourselves to be a ministry in the midst of a pandemic.” The BSM staff returned from spring break, quarantined themselves for two weeks, and began preparing to pivot. They created a texting service to order food ahead of time, made adjustments to serve everything in a drive-thru and strictly incorporated local social distancing protocols.


The university also shifted and began working with small scale, local farmers to have fresh produce boxes made for students to pick up. Together they are part of the UTRGV Food Security Program.


“The partnership is a big step for the BSM,” Izaguirre said. “It fell into our laps and we feel fortunate that our missions align.” With the university covering costs for produce boxes and providing additional volunteers on distribution days, the deli is financially stable with the pay-as-you-can model along with donations made by donors and local congregations. “This is a really good partnership with the BSM,” Bhat said. “Robert is a great leader

who really understands the big picture and the opportunity that presents itself by partnering with the university at this level.” In addition to making food available to students and their families, the drive-thru has proven to be a time of needed emotional and spiritual connection. Students, especially those already in fragile social and economic positions, are feeling the weight of the pandemic’s effects. “We have people who come through here that just need to see a face even if it’s through a car window,” Izaguirre said. “They need to know someone cares and is praying for them. Students are fighting loneliness.” Things are shifting and changing regularly, so the BSM staff anticipate things to adapt as needed. “We may not know where we are getting food for the next week or when the social distancing rules are going to change.” Izaguirre said. “And we don’t know what medical professionals are going to say about COVID-19. But we know our love and care for students is not going to change.” Learn more at bsmatutrgv.org or visit txbsm.org for info about all Texas BSMs.


Transforming hearts for Christ through BSM

Hicks has befriended many of the international students who live in her apartment complex, including a boy named Adam*, who comes from a Hindu background. A few months ago, Hicks ran into Adam and shared the Gospel with him for the first time. and invited him to join a Bible study group for other non-believers and curious students hosted by BSM students.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down UTA’s campus, the Bible study started meeting over Zoom. Over the Zoom calls, the BSM students began to ask deeper questions about Adam’s spiritual life. “We asked him bold questions and prayed for his salvation daily,” Hicks shared. “And he decided over one of those Zoom calls to make Jesus the king of his life and immediately started obeying Jesus through sharing the Gospel, getting baptized, and pursuing his friends who are far from God.” Lives are being transformed through the BSM, even in a time of social distancing. There are many other stories like Adam’s at BSMs across Texas. When your church gives through the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, you support BSMs as they minister to college students. Learn more at utabsm.com or visit txbsm.org for info about all Texas BSMs.


The Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) at The University of Texas Arlington (UTA) has been actively engaging the campus’s large international student population for Christ for years. Aubrey Hicks, a BSM student, has been involved with this ministry throughout her time in college. Hicks lives in an on-campus apartment complex that houses predominantly international students with a Hindu background. She and other BSM students use this opportunity to witness to the students who live around her.

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Hospital chaplaincy in the midst of a pandemic


By Bonnie Shaw, News Writer


In hospitals across the state, Texas Baptist chaplains are hard at work amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Protocols have changed, where bedside conversations have been replaced by phone calls and hugs have given way to encouraging smiles, but the Gospel message remains the same.

Program. More than $618,000 is given annually to the four health care partners to provide spiritual care to patients and families across Texas.

Supporting struggling families and staff in Dallas

Grace explained that by June 2020, there were 2,800 more staff visits across the Baylor Scott & White Health network than all of 2019. Doctors, nurses and all those working in the hospital are facing increased stress as they struggle to treat a virus with no known cure and risk contamination themselves as they interact with patients.

“The coronavirus has drastically altered the healthcare setting and life at the hospital, not just for the doctors and nurses but also for our chaplains, whose main role is to offer comfort, provide support and offer hope,” Candace Zelner, a chaplain at Baylor University Medical Center (BUMC) in Dallas, explained.

“Those things remain unchanged, but the way we do ministry has radically changed. Chaplains have been asked to innovatively use research and collaborate with other chaplains systemwide as we try to figure out the best way to support and care for our patients.” Chaplains at Texas Baptists’ partner health care institutions are supported by gifts to the Texas Baptists Cooperative

Mark Grace, chief mission and ministry officer for Baylor Scott & White Health, has observed an increase in patients, staff and families seeking out spiritual guidance in these troubled times.

SPOTLIGHT In addition to providing spiritual counseling and support to those who need it, the Mission and Ministry Office also engaged with the local community to help churches adjust to online services. They also produced 25,000 face masks and 5,000 face shields for use in medical centers and non-profits.

Zelner, who has studied the effects of grief during this pandemic, explained that, while these measures keep people safe, they often prevent grief from being processed. To combat this, Zelner has compiled bereavement packages to help families dealing with a loss. In the package, there is a letter signed by all of the doctors, nurses and hospital staff who worked directly with the deceased family member. There is also an EKG strip of the patient’s heart rhythm from before they passed. Zelner called the daughter of a man who had recently passed away from COVID-19 to explain the bereavement package. The woman was excited to receive the package and said she would make copies of the EKG strip to pass out to other family members. “With all the changes that the coronavirus has brought, the one thing that has not changed is our capacity and our ability to journey with our patients and our families,” Zelner said. “This bereavement package we have put together gives us an opportunity to offer hope and comfort in a way that is different but still important.”

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Providing spiritual care in Houston In Houston, Silvia Briones, a Texas Baptist chaplain and River Ministry missionary, has served at Houston Methodist Hospital as a PRN chaplain. Briones is only called in to serve as a chaplain when the situation demands. When the COVID-19 outbreak began, the hospital reached out to her and asked if she would serve. Though Briones was initially hesitant because she and her husband could fall into an at-risk category, she did not have peace about staying home while people in the hospital needed to hear from the Lord, so she went to work. As a chaplain, Briones provides emotional and spiritual support to patients, family members, staff and anyone else who needed it in the hospital. She explained that it has been harder than usual to minister to patients, as visits are extremely limited to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus. To communicate with patients, Briones calls them over the phone. If necessary, she makes visits to non-COVID-19 patients, but only in extreme situations. As the only Spanish-speaking chaplain at the hospital, Briones felt a burden to reach out specifically to patients who could not speak English.

“It’s been a blessing because I know a lot of the people are missing the spiritual and emotional care that others can have because they don’t speak the language,” she explained. Furthermore, Briones has used her experiences as a chaplain to train others to do the same. She has held online seminars for a group of pastors and volunteers in Ecuador who wanted to minister to those affected by COVID-19, including those who have recovered and the family members of those that have passed away. The webinars are in partnership with the Baptist Medical Association in Ecuador, which has been instrumental in recruiting pastors to help with this effort. They approached Briones about training them so that they would be able to better respond to the specific needs people impacted by the virus are facing. So far, four sessions have taken place, and Briones has plans for more in the near future. The work that Briones, Grace and Zelner are doing is just a small look into chaplain ministry across the country. In the midst of much uncertainty, these chaplains provide hope and care to patients and family members in need.


For Zelner, who serves as the bereavement officer in addition to her role as a chaplain, visitation restrictions have been the hardest change to hospital procedures. Usually, BUMC is full of families and friends visiting patients, but visitors have been severely restricted to prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus. For non-COVID-19 patients, one visitor is allowed per 24-hour period. For patients battling COVID-19, visitors are not allowed, except in end-of-life situations, where one visitor is allowed.


Mary Hill Davis Offering ÂŽ helps small churches make big impacts By Bonnie Shaw, News Writer


Churches have always played an important role in their local communities, providing hope and healing to those around them. But for some small churches, the majority of their budget goes towards keeping the doors open every Sunday. That is why Texas Baptists Bivocational Ministry and Church Architecture teamed up to create grants for small churches eager to reach their communities for Christ.


Reaching Communities Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in Mathis was one of the many churches helped by this grant. The church had the desire to reach out to single mothers in their small rural community. Many of these single mothers live at or below the poverty level and have very few resources available to help them. With the funds from the grant, Mt. Pisgah was able to hold a women’s conference that offered spiritual renewal, as well as physical needs.

Mary Hill Davis Offering goal is $3,600,000: Help meet the goal by giving today at iamtexasmissions.org electrical code, or funding outreach in their communities. So, the two teams joined together to see how they could help churches meet all of their needs. Funded by gifts to the WMU of Texas’ Mary Hill Davis Offering® for Texas Missions, the Small Church Impact Grants are a two-fold approach that provides matching funding assistance for missional projects and provides leadership training, as well as consultation expertise and strategic organization to make the most of the funding resources. They also provide matching grants for construction designed to help the church better minister to those around them.

Antoine explained that the church rented out a dance hall because many of the women did not feel comfortable going to a church building. Mt. Pisgah strove to meet the women where they were comfortable, going out to them instead of asking them to come to the church. The women were fed brunch, given free medical check-ups and taught life skills such as money management. The grant’s support of construction projects helped Iglesia Bautista Doverside in Houston. The church had an average worship attendance of 80 people and was led by a bivocational pastor. The Small Church Impact Grant helped Iglesia Bautista with the cost of upgrading the electrical in their church building. Upgrades had to be made to meet city codes and to keep

insurance coverage for the church. Now the church, which has a large fellowship hall, is able to safely host events in their building.

Adapting to needs This year, the grant has adapted to meet the changing needs of its recipients in light of COVID-19. “The grants are there to help churches to develop ways and to aid them in impacting their communities for Christ. So we’re asking churches what they’re going to do in light of COVID,” Antoine explained. “How will the churches and members change and be salt and light in the midst of the COVID crisis?” Antoine and Crouch agree that the Small Impact Church Grants would not be possible without the Mary Hill Davis Offering®. When churches give to the offering, they support efforts like these grants, so that small churches can continue to have a big impact on their communities. “Their gifts allow churches to reach people for Christ and to be salt and light and to walk alongside other people,” Antoine said. “A gift of $20 could help sponsor a lady for a luncheon and a wellness check. $30 could help a church provide meals for a family that comes for a revival. All that I just shared could not be done without the Mary Hill Davis Offering®.” The Mary Hill Davis Offering® supports missions and ministries across Texas. For more information, go to iamtexasmissions.org


Ira Antoine, director of Bivocational Ministry, explained that the collaboration between Bivocational Ministry and Church Architecture began three years ago. Antoine heard many stories from churches explaining outreach that they wanted to start but did not have the facilities to host. At the same time, Keith Crouch, director of Church Architecture, was helping churches build new facilities or improve existing buildings but saw that some churches had little funds leftover for ministry. They had to choose between necessary repairs, such as complying with a new


Ayudar a iglesias pequeñas hace un gran impacto Por Bonnie Shaw, Escritora de noticias


Las iglesias siempre han jugado un papel importante en sus comunidades locales, al proveer esperanza y sanidad a aquellos a su alrededor. Sin embargo, para algunas iglesias pequeñas, la mayoría de su presupuesto se van en mantener las puertas abiertas el domingo. Es por lo que el Ministerio Bivocacional y Arquitectura de la Iglesia de los Bautistas de Texas han colaborado para proveer subvenciones para iglesias pequeñas ansiosas por alcanzar sus comunidades para Cristo.


Ira Antoine, director del Ministerio Bivocacional, explicó que la colaboración entre el Ministerio Bivocacional y Arquitectura de la Iglesia comenzó hace tres años. Antoine escuchó muchas historias de iglesias explicando el alcance que deseaban iniciar, pero no tenían las instalaciones para ello. Al mismo tiempo, Keith Crouch, director de Arquitectura de la Iglesia, ayudaba a iglesias a construir instalaciones nuevas o mejorar instalaciones existentes, pero vio que a algunas iglesias les quedaba poco para el ministerio. Tenían que escoger entre hacer reparaciones necesarias, como por ejemplo cumplir con un nuevo código de electricidad, o proveer fondos para hacer alcance en sus comunidades. Por eso, los dos equipos se unieron para ver cómo ayudar a las iglesias satisfacer todas sus necesidades. Financiadas por las ofrendas a la Ofrenda Mary Hill Davis para las Misiones en Texas de la UFM de Texas, las Subvenciones de Impacto a Iglesias Pequeñas son un enfoque doble que provee fondos conjuntos de ayuda para proyectos

misioneros y provee entrenamiento para liderazgo, así como consulta experta y organización estratégica para hacer el mejor uso de lo recursos económicos. También proveen subvenciones conjuntas para construcción diseñada para ayudar a la iglesia a ministrar mejor a aquellos a su alrededor.

Alcanzar comunidades Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church en Mathis fue una de muchas iglesias ayudada por esta subvención. La iglesia tenía el deseo de alcanzar a madres solteras en su pequeña comunidad rural. Muchas de estas madres solteras viven por debajo del nivel de pobreza y tienen muy pocos recursos disponibles para ayudarlas. Con los fondos de la subvención, Mt. Pisgah pudo celebrar una conferencia para mujeres que ofreció renovación espiritual, así como ayuda con necesidades físicas. Antoine explicó que la iglesia alquiló un salón porque muchas mujeres no se sentían cómodas de asistir a la iglesia. Mt. Pisgah se esforzó por reunir a estas mujeres donde ellas se sintieran cómodas, acudiendo a donde ellas estaban en vez de pedirles que ellas fueran a la iglesia. Las mujeres almorzaron, recibieron exámenes médicos gratis, y aprendieron destrezas para la vida como administración del dinero. La subvención apoyó el proyecto de construcción que ayudó a la Iglesia Bautista Doverside en Houston. La iglesia tenía una asistencia promedio de 80 personas y estaba dirigida por un pastor bivocacional. La Subvención de Impacto para la Iglesia Pequeña ayudó a Iglesia Bautista

con el costo para actualizar el sistema eléctrico en las instalaciones de la iglesia. Las actualizaciones eran necesarias para cumplir con los códigos de la ciudad y mantener la cobertura del seguro para la iglesia. Ahora, la iglesia, la cual tiene un salón de compañerismo grande, es capaz de auspiciar eventos en sus instalaciones de una manera segura.

Adaptar a las necesidades Este año, las subvenciones se han adaptado para satisfacer las diversas necesidades de sus beneficiarios debido al COVID-19. “Las subvenciones están aquí para ayudar a las iglesias a desarrollar maneras para hacer un impacto en sus comunidades para Cristo. Por eso, preguntamos a las iglesias qué están haciendo respecto al COVID-19,” explicó Antoine. “¿Cómo cambiarán las iglesias y sus miembros y serán sal y luz en medio de la crisis del COVID-19?” Antoine y Crouch están de acuerdo con que las Subvenciones de Impacto para la Iglesia Pequeña no serían posibles sin la Ofrenda Mary Hill Davis. Cuando las iglesias ofrendan, sostienen esfuerzos como estas subvenciones, para que iglesias pequeñas puedan continuar haciendo un gran impacto en sus comunidades. “Sus ofrendas permiten que las iglesias alcancen a personas para Cristo y sean sal y luz al caminar junto a otras personas,” Antoine dijo. “Una ofrenda de $20 pueden ayudar a proveer un almuerzo y un examen médico para una mujer. $30 pueden ayudar a una iglesia a proveer alimentos para una familia que vaya a un avivamiento. Todo eso que he compartido no sería posible sin la Ofrenda Mary Hill Davis.” La Ofrenda Mary Hill Davis sostiene misiones y ministerios para el discipulado y la multiplicación de iglesias por todo Texas. Para información adicional, viviste iamtexasmissions.org

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” MATTHEW 28:18-20 (NIV)

Arena/Outreach Events help new cowboy church starts and smaller cowboy churches reach people for Christ and build presence in their community. South Texas Women’s Build is a partnership between WMU of Texas and Buckner International in which women construct a new home for a family in the El Polvorin Colonia in Peñitas, Texas. Border Crisis Ministry attends to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of refugees at the McAllen Respite Center and deportees at the Nuevo Laredo Migrant Center. RECHARGE provides encouragement, training, and resources for African American churches as they seek to revitalize their churches and reach their communities for Christ. Christian Women’s Job Corps® and Christian Men’s Job Corps® sites are provided consultation, resources, and training. You may designate gifts to the Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions throughout the year through your church, directly to WMU of Texas, or online at iamtexasmissions.org.


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