Texas Baptists Life Volume 9 Issue 2

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Issue No. 2

Engaging culture across Texas Learn about the work and ministry of the Center for Cultural Engagement. p. 21


Contents Center for Cultural Engagement The Center for Cultural Engagement brings people to God and into community with God’s people by building bridges between people groups, healing brokenness, confronting systemic evils, and speaking truth to power to influence the secular towards the sacred. Read more about how Texas Baptists is reaching every corner of Texas for Christ.



Examining church health with Jonathan Smith Church health strategist Jonathan Smith explains what a healthy church looks like and how he can be a resource for Texas Baptists congregations.

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Renewed Confidence

Read how a family’s life was transformed through the Texas Baptist Children’s Home.


African American Ministries gives church leaders tools to “Rebuild”


Meet Director Bruce McCoy and Associate Director Ralph Emerson as they work to join Texas Baptists’ resources together to make a greater impact in Texas and beyond.


TBM volunteers provide support for vaccine distributors at Fair Park in Dallas TBM volunteers are feeding nurses, doctors and volunteers at the COVID-19 vaccine distributors in Fair Park. Read about the ministry and why TBM got involved.

Publication Team

A valuable partnership between the Intercultural Ministries team and a Congolese church in Houston provides meals for struggling families amidst the pandemic.

Bonnie Shaw News Writer


Read how the African American Ministries team equipped church leaders for a challenging year during their leadership conference.

Cooperative Program spotlight

Intercultural Ministries joins with Congolese church to provide food for struggling families

Celebration of Life worship service calls for affirmation, acceptance and applause The Christian Life Commission’s Celebration of Life service was held on Jan. 23. Read about who spoke and the important message the service had to share.


Food pantry ministry in partnership with Hunger Offering serves Austin community


Texas Baptists en Español connects and encourages local churches Learn about the work Texas Baptists en Español is doing to build relationships and provide resources for Hispanic churches across Texas.

See how one church is using the Hunger Offering to expand their food pantry.


En Español

Texas Baptists en Español pueden ayudar a las congregaciones en su ministerio al contextualizar una amplia variedad de servicios y ministerios disponibles a través de los Bautistas de Texas.

Joshua Seth Minatrea Director of Communications

Jeremy Honea Creative Director Maritza Solano Production Designer Caleb Arndt Graphic Designer Neil Williams Multimedia Specialist Meredith Rose Social Media Specialist Brittany Thomas Digital Marketing Specialist/ 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


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Stay equipped, encouraged and informed. Sign up or update your preferences at our new online subscription center. txb.org/subscribe

from the


Hello, Texas Baptists! I begin by thanking you for your continued faithfulness and generosity. Our Baptist General Convention of Texas churches, collectively, are making such a positive Kingdom impact in this State and far beyond. We continue to engage our society with the Good News of Jesus Christ. We began 2021 with a new organizational structure built around five ministry centers and in this edition you’ll find out much about our new Center for Cultural Engagement led by Dr. Gus Reyes. I know you’ll enjoy reading and learning about all the different ways we touch today’s culture with the Great Commandment and the Great Commission (GC2). Speaking of engaging the culture, one of the issues that our churches, institutions and camps may soon be facing comes in the form of The Equality Act. I do not have time in this space to explain it or address its far reaching implications but I do encourage you to become aware and informed. But, please know our Texas Baptist Convention is opposed to this legislation believing it would greatly hinder the Religious Liberties we currently enjoy. For more information you may visit our Christian Life Commission Website or visit www.denisionforum.org where our Theologian in Residence, Dr. Jim Dension has good information for you. I continue to be blessed by the preaching opportunities that come my way each Sunday. It is truly a joy to experience the Lord’s Day all across Texas with our brothers and sisters in Christ. If you need someone to fill in some Sunday please do not hesitate to contact my office and we’ll put it on the calendar. Now that Covid-19 is beginning to subside a bit, the blessing of gathering with God’s people on His day is one to appreciate even more.

Our last three Executive Board Meetings and our last Annual Meeting were all done online/virtual. However, it is our hope to gather in-person this May for our next Executive Board, at least for those who are comfortable traveling and gathering. Of course, we’ll still be very careful but do hope to come together “live and in-person.” As always it is an honor to serve you and know that I pray daily for our Convention, our Pastors and other Church leaders. It is good to be a Texas Baptist!

¡Hola Bautistas de Texas! Primero que todo, quiero darles las gracias por su continua fidelidad y generosidad. Nuestras iglesias de la Convención Bautista General de Texas, colectivamente, están haciendo un impacto positivo para el Reino en este estado y más allá. Continuamos interactuando con nuestra sociedad con las Buenas Nuevas de Jesucristo. Comenzamos 2021 con una estructura organizacional nueva desarrollada sobre cinco centros de ministerio y en esta edición aprenderá mucho más acerca de nuestro Centro para la Interacción Cultural dirigido por el Dr. Gus Reyes. Sé que disfrutará al leer y aprender acerca de las diferentes maneras cómo tocamos la cultura de hoy día con el Gran Mandamiento y la Gran Comisión (GC2). Hablando de interactuar con la cultura, uno de los asuntos que nuestras iglesias, instituciones, y campamentos pronto enfrentarán viene en la forma de la Ley de Igualdad. No tengo tiempo aquí para explicarla o hablar de las implicaciones, pero le exhorto a estar consciente e informado. Por favor, sepa que la Convención Bautista de Texas se opone a esta legislación basándonos en que obstruye las libertades religiosas que actualmente disfrutamos. Para información

adicional puede visitar la página web de la Comisión Cristiana para la Vida o visite www.denisonforum.org donde nuestro teólogo en residencia, el Dr. Jim Denison, tiene buena información para usted. Continúo siendo bendecido por las oportunidades para predicar que recibo cada domingo. Es un verdadero gozo el experimentar el Día del Señor por todo Texas con nuestros hermanos y hermanas. Si necesita que alguien supla el púlpito durante un domingo, no vacile en comunicarse con mi oficina y fijaremos una fecha en el calendario. Ahora que el Covid-19 está empezando a disminuir un poco, la bendición de reunirnos con el pueblo de Dios en Su día es una que apreciamos aun más. Nuestras tres pasadas reuniones de la Junta Ejecutiva, así como nuestra Reunión Anual fueron todas virtuales/ en línea. Sin embargo, es nuestra esperanza el poder reunirnos en persona este próximo mes de mayo para nuestra próxima reunión de la Junta Ejecutiva, por lo menos para aquellos que se sientan cómodos con viajar y reunirse. Por supuesto, continuamos siendo cuidadosos, pero esperamos reunirnos “en vivo y en persona”. Como siempre, es un honor servirle y sepa que oro cada día por nuestra Convención, nuestros pastores, y los líderes de las iglesias. ¡Es bueno ser un bautista de Texas!

#txbtogether #GC2


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BOUNCE offers student ministry leaders the opportunity to MOBILIZE their middle school, high school and college students to be engaged in CHALLENGING MISSION SERVICE and INSPIRING TIMES OF WORSHIP. Plus, it’s all PRE-PACKAGED. BOUNCE takes care of all the details so you can focus on your students and serving others.

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Bounce Student Disaster Recovery/Community Rehab Students restore HOPE, rebuild COMMUNITIES and reflect CHRIST in areas impacted by disasters or where homes are in need of rehabilitation through hands-on construction missions.

Spring Break and Summer mission options available. Find the right mission for your group at txb.org/bounce.

Bounce Student Church Planting By immersing students in church planting, BOUNCE seeks to give church plants and church planters a “bounce” forward in ministry momentum. Student groups serve with church plants for significant ministry that not only assists church plants and planters, but also cultivates an appreciation and love for church planting in the lives of participants.


Approximately 160 students and sponsors from churches around Texas volunteered in the “Golden Triangle,” primarily in the city of Orange, from March 10-17. The groups worked on home repairs and recovery for families affected by Hurricanes Delta, Laura and Harvey through BOUNCE Student Disaster Recovery.

Students came from Midland, Kerrville, Longview and Dallas-Fort Worth to work on several homes. This is the third trip BOUNCE has organized to the area to help those affected by hurricane damage. “People still have significant needs resulting from these three hurricanes that have affected the Golden Triangle area,” David Scott, director of BOUNCE, explained. “We’re really excited that these churches were ready to mobilize and get their students out there to do some good.” The students and sponsors were housed at First Baptist Church of Nederland, which has hosted students on the previous two trips to the area.

The Discipleship Team in the Center for Church Health is excited to announce Cory Liebrum as the new Youth & Family Ministry Specialist. Liebrum comes to Texas Baptists with over 20 years of ministry experience. In his new role as Youth & Family Ministry Specialist, Liebrum will help churches through training, consulting about needs they may have and encouraging youth leaders across Texas. Liebrum will also work closely with Children’s Ministry Specialist Jennifer Howington to promote ministry “from baby dedication to graduate Sunday.” He graduated from Howard Payne University with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies and earned his Master of Arts in Professional Development from Dallas Baptist University. “There’s a lot to be excited about right now in youth work and family ministry,” Liebrum said. “Coming out of Covid it’s a perfect time for churches, youth ministries, churches in general to try new things. People are craving community, they’re craving connections. Anything we can do to help ministers meet that need for their church family is great.”

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Texas Baptists welcomes Cory Liebrum as new Youth & Family Ministry Specialist




The Texas Baptist Missions Foundation (TBMF) set up a Church Disaster Relief Fund to provide assistance to churches damaged by the storms. Many experienced burst pipes and flooded buildings, inhibiting their ministry. The relief fund provided assistance to congregations, enabling them to continue meeting the needs of their communities. These churches were uniquely positioned to share Christ and show love, especially in such trying times. Texas Baptist churches across the state did their part during the storm, opening their doors and providing resources for

those who were affected. One of those churches, Community Missionary Baptist Church (CMBC) in DeSoto, opened their facilities as a registered secondary shelter and emergency rescue center. The church provided food, showers and shelter to anyone who was in need, including families whose homes were without electricity and the local homeless population. TBM volunteers also served in response to the storm, providing assistance for those in need of help across the state. Volunteers were deployed to assist in cleaning homes that experienced waterdamage. They also helped disinfect homes and remove damaged furniture, flooring and sheetrock. TBM also deployed shower and laundry units to meet the needs of communities with burst pipes. Volunteers delivered bottled water to apartment complexes in the Dallas area that were without water, including one that houses 80 disabled veterans. They also distributed water at East Texas Baptist University, Lewisville, Houston and across Texas. To learn more about Texas Baptists response to the winter storm, visit txb.org/winterstorm.

“ People are hurting...They are tired. They’re overwhelmed by the situation. We are mobilizing volunteers to meet their needs, help them and lift their spirits.”

– David Wells, TBM Disaster Relief Director

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From February 14-20, 2021, Winter Storms Uri and Violet hit the state of Texas, bringing below-freezing temperatures and dumping snow and ice. Approximately 4 million Texans were without power, many for multiple days, and over 7 million Texans faced waterrelated issues, including being placed under a boil water notice or having their water shut off entirely. Homes, churches and other ministry facilities were affected by water damage as pipes froze and burst. Many across the Texas Baptist family rose up to meet the needs of their communities in the face of these challenges.



Super Summer is a week-long training for students to know and share the Gospel. The success of Super Summer is not measured by the 140,000 plus students trained, but by the countless number of times those students shared the Gospel. Register now at supersummer.com

Center for Church Health Evangelism





Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing March 2, 2021

Baylor School of Nursing Today LHSON’s FastBacc cohort operated a “refill station” to encourage the LHSON community. The “refill station” will hopefully serve as a reminder that we have to be filled in order to pour into others and truly serve well.

hbu_bsm March 1, 2021

Sam Houston BSM February 1, 2021

hbu_bsm Grateful for @houstonwelcomesrefugees training us today so we can serve refugees in our city! @txbsm @texasbaptists #txbsm21

Sam Houston BSM Grateful for all of those who came to Abide this weekend! What an incredible time of seeking the Lord and drawing near to Him as we prayed for our world, the nation, and our campus!

Buckner International February 19, 2021

BUCKNER INTERNATIONAL The center provided shelter from the storm, as well as hot meals, blankets, water and other supplies. “ We are all in this together,” Ricardo Brambila, director of the Family Hope Center, said. “This is our community, and we want to be a good neighbor. Families are hurting, especially children. When the families are here, we hope they see the compassion and love we have for them. We want them to leave with hope.”

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Buckner International This week the Buckner Backman Lake Family Hope Center converted into a Dallas Warming Center and was able to bless more than 600 people with warm meals, snacks, blankets, water, and other supplies!

The Buckner Backman Lake Family Hope Center converted into a Dallas Warming Center during the February winter storms. The center usually provides local families with critical services, aid and coaching to keep them strong, with an aim to decrease the likelihood of abuse, neglect and removal of children. When the storm hit, Buckner estimated that about 65% of the families they served were affected by power outages, leaving many of them in below freezing temperatures.


Texas Baptist Children’s Home

Renewed Confidence By Ginger Swann

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In the background is the sound of two happy boys playing together and occasionally interrupting with a question. Danielle laughs playfully and helps her sons with their toys, while continuing the conversation – just like a well-balanced single mom. To hear how hopeful she is for her future and the future of her family, you’d never know that just a couple of years ago, Danielle was in one of the darkest places of her life.


After her relationship with the father of her boys ended, Danielle’s life came to an abrupt halt. “I didn’t know what was next for me or my boys. It was like hitting a dead end – both legally and financially,” she remembers. “I didn’t feel like I could go to my family, but we desperately needed a safe place to stay.” As the stress of her new situation began to grow, she started having breakdowns and panicking about the future. “I lost all confidence in myself and became so fearful of everything. It’s like you could smell the fear on me.”

Thankfully, Danielle and her boys, Dorian (8) and Judiah (2), were able to join the Family Care program at Texas Baptist Children’s Home (TBCH) in the fall of 2018, where they found the safe home and stable family environment they needed. They moved into a cottage on the Round Rock campus, where they had their own private bedroom and bathroom, but shared living spaces with other families that had come from similar situations. Danielle quickly bonded with the other mothers and the boys were thrilled to have new friends to play with. In this supportive community, she was able to let down her guard and take a deep breath for the first time in a long while. As she settled in and started her journey toward healing, Danielle began to reorient herself from the trauma of her past to the promise of her future. She met with her counselor regularly and, as she regained the confidence that was once lost, she began making plans for the future of her family and getting

excited about what it might hold. Along with her Family Life Coordinator (FLC), Jaymie, she set educational and financial goals for herself and began to work toward them. As Danielle healed, her go-getter personality and attitude began to reemerge. She enrolled in classes at Austin Community College and began taking a full course load, while also maintaining a part-time job. She knew that her dream of becoming a nurse was a lofty goal, but she also was confident that she could achieve great things through hard work and determination. Learning how to juggle her job, school, and single parenting was a challenge, but Danielle knew it would be worth it. She often found herself doing school work during her sons’ naps and various breaks in the day because she wanted to make the most of every moment. “When we were sheltered in place due to COVID-19, Danielle was amazing,” says Jaymie, her FLC. “She just went with the

Photos by AzulOx Visuals

In addition to setting goals, one of the most transformational things during Danielle’s time at TBCH has been learning a new approach to parenting. “The staff has taught me what it looks like to strive to be the best mom for my kids and it’s completely changed the way I parent,” she says. Through group counseling and training sessions called “Nurture Groups” that are offered to Family Care moms, Danielle has developed new insight into understanding the behavior patterns of her boys and being able to identify the root issues that lead to their actions. As a mom, this helps her understand what Dorian and Judiah are thinking and

feeling, even when they don’t have the words to explain it. “Not only have I grown during our time here, but I’ve seen my sons really thrive,” Danielle says with a smile. “One of them was super shy and quiet when we first arrived and now he’s really engaged and enjoys the sweet friendships he’s made with the other kids in the program. I’m so proud of them!” While in the Family Care program, she has been able to get back on her feet financially in order to meet both her financial goals and to provide for her family – and she’s even started saving for their future! In June 2020, they transitioned into an Independent Living apartment on TBCH’s campus, where the family has their own space and is learning to live independently again. Dorian and Judiah are loving it and can’t wait for their family to have a house of their own, which Danielle is hoping to be able to purchase for them in the

near future. With much of her course work already behind her, Danielle will be applying to nursing schools this fall, which brings her one step closer to her dream of becoming a nurse. At TBCH, Danielle and her sons found a loving, supportive community during their time of greatest need. “They have been so loving and encouraging and I can’t imagine our life without them,” she says. “No matter where we go, I always want to be part of this community and for my kids to grow up knowing what an important role it played in our family. Our time here has really renewed my faith. I know we wouldn’t be where we are without God placing us at TBCH.” For more information about TBCH and ways you can support families like Danielle’s, go to tbch.org

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flow and figured out how to help her 2nd grader with his online schooling as well as entertain her soon-to-be 2-year-old. I’d often hear shrieks of happiness and giggling – the living room became the classroom as well as the playground and she never complained.”



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Take 60 seconds to learn about and pray for the missionaries and ministries you support across Texas and around the world through the Cooperative Program. Ten new stories will be posted each quarter in 2021 for you to use in your church! Historias disponibles en español. Get free resources for your church to use in 2021 at txb.org/cpstories




The Cooperative Program is a way to combine resources of churches, ministries and individuals to enable more missions, evangelism and ministry throughout Texas and around the world. Meet Bruce McCoy and Ralph Emerson, the team working behind the scenes to raise awareness and foster relationships with churches in a collaborative effort to share Christ and show love. Bruce McCoy serves Texas Baptists as director of the Cooperative Program, a role he began in summer 2020. McCoy started working with Texas Baptists in the Ambassador Program, in which he visited churches to strengthen fellowship and friendship between the churches and the Convention. He has also served as president of the Missouri Baptist Convention and as Alumni Director at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Working alongside McCoy is Ralph Emerson, the program’s associate director. Emerson has been in the preaching ministry for 19 years and has been in full-time vocational ministry for 15 years. He served as the executive pastor for Rising Star Baptist Church in Fort Worth and at City Gate Church in Burlington, NC, where he developed systems and structures to facilitate spiritual and numerical growth. He also served as senior pastor at Impact City Church in Odessa. Both are passionate about the Cooperative Program, which McCoy explained enables churches to be a part of a ministry that multiplies their impact by combining resources with churches across the state.

“Christ has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. Going requires a certain amount of expense,” he said. “With the expansive vision of Texas Baptists, we’re going to college campuses, to the underprivileged, to the unchurched, to the internationals living in Texas and worldwide. We’re underwriting the cost of these faithful witnesses as they reach the world for Christ.” The Cooperative Program is a collaborative effort. Learn more about how your church can get involved and make an impact in Texas and beyond by going to txb.org/cp or by contacting

Bruce McCoy bruce.mccoy@txb.org (214) 828-5306

Ralph Emerson ralph.emerson@txb.org (214) 828-5239

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In 2020, 83 new churches were started, over 1,000 future ministers received scholarships to fund their studies and roughly 100,000 ministers and lay-leaders were trained through special events, consultations and speaking engagements. That is just the tip of the impact that Texas Baptists Cooperative Program has had in one year alone.


TBM volunteers provide support for vaccine distributors at Fair Park in Dallas

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By Bonnie Shaw, News Writer


DALLAS—Outside of Fair Park, hundreds of cars queue in line each day to be admitted to the vaccination area. Appointments are required, and 2,000 to 3,000 people are vaccinated each day. Not only are doctors and nurses needed for administering the shots, people are needed for traffic control, crowd control, regular sanitation, registration and more to keep the facility running smoothly and efficiently. Texas Baptist Men (TBM) volunteers are doing their part to help the process by feeding the doctors, nurses and volunteers vaccinating Texans at the Dallas County location.

Rand Jenkins, TBM Ministry Advancement Team director, estimates that about 300 meals are served each day. The TBM volunteer teams are composed of seven members and provide coffee, breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. For more than 50 years, TBM has had a strong feeding ministry, traveling to disaster relief zones following natural disasters and other tragedies to bring warm meals to those in need. As TBM looked for ways to serve during COVID-19, they saw providing food to those medical personnel working at Fair Park as a

people’s arms, and we cannot be thankful enough for what this organization and other volunteers are doing,” Grisales said. Texas Baptists leadership took part in the volunteering, serving breakfast, lunch and snacks on March 4. David Hardage, executive director; Craig Christina, associate executive director; Ward Hayes, Treasurer/CFO; Ray Malone, Human Resources director; and Phil Miller, Center for Church Health director, sorted and restocked food and drinks and spoke encouragement over those that passed through for refreshments.

“Our TBM volunteers can help feed people. We do that all over the country, all over the world. So why not here in Dallas County?” Jenkins explained. The vaccine distribution is a community effort, Christian Grisales, Dallas County Health and Human Services Public Relations officer, explained, and by providing food, TBM is helping the county save lives. “It’s been a community effort putting this together. We depend a lot on volunteers, like Texas Baptist Men, and we’re very grateful as a county, as a community, for all the work that volunteers have done. It wouldn’t really be possible to execute this major operation to get those vaccines to

“ We feel like it’s important to show the love of Christ in practical ways, and we support those who are on the front lines fighting COVID-19.” – Dr. Craig Christina

Pam and Stan George have volunteered with TBM for many years following their retirement and have served on chainsaw and feeding teams after many disasters. Though the vaccination distribution looks very different from their usual ministry locations, Pam explained that the heart and the mission behind TBM’s service remains the same. “It doesn’t matter who people are or where they come from, we get a chance to love on them,” she said. “We come away so blessed from serving, and we get to meet so many amazing people.” Volunteers arrive at 6:15 a.m. each morning to set up the coffee and breakfast and encourage people as they begin their days. Lunch begins at 11 a.m. Laurie, a nurse from Baylor Scott & White, has been working at Fair Park since the vaccinations started. She explained that the meals provided by TBM relieve the doctors, nurses and volunteers of the stress of finding food on their own. Instead, they are able to truly rest on their break. “It makes all the difference in the world,” she said. “It’s so very appreciated.” For more information, email TBM Disaster Relief Director David Wells at david.wells@tbmtx.org or call TBM at 214-275-1100.

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natural extension of that ministry, serving hard workers as they battle a different kind of disaster– a pandemic.

“We are helping to support the work of TBM as they serve meals to the healthcare workers distributing the vaccine,” Christina explained. “We feel like it’s important to show the love of Christ in practical ways, and we support those who are on the front lines fighting COVID-19.”


Examining church health with Jonathan Smith

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By Bonnie Shaw, News Writer


Dr. Jonathan Smith has joined Texas Baptists as the new Church Health Strategist. Learn about what makes a healthy church and how a church health strategist can help your church grow.

I see four major components of a healthy church. A healthy church is a worshiping church. In a healthy church, every Sunday, Jesus Christ is central in all that is said and done, from singing songs and hymns, and even giving. The proclamation of God’s Word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is always central in a healthy church. Worship is not limited to Sunday. Worship is every day. In the first act of the church in Acts chapter two, we see a miracle happen by the power of the Holy Spirit. Those early disciples entered Jerusalem and started speaking about the glory of God, and everyone heard in their own native tongue. And so, a worshiping church is proclaiming the goodness and the glory of God every day of the week to every tongue, every tribe and every nation. A healthy church is also a disciplemaking church. In a healthy church, people are learning about the person of Jesus Christ but they’re doing so in a relationally-rich environment, where iron sharpens iron. People are encouraging one another and they are being taught to obey and follow the person of Jesus Christ. A healthy church is also a missionallyminded church. Jesus gave us clear instructions that we are to follow Him in loving people, in loving our neighbor and in taking the Gospel around the world. A healthy church is engaged not only in their neighborhood, sharing the Gospel evangelistically, but is also engaged around the world as we take the Gospel message of Jesus forward. And finally, a healthy church is a praying church. In fact, prayer is what fuels everything about a healthy church. As a healthy church, you are connecting with your heavenly Father individually and corporately. When it comes to taking the mission of Jesus Christ

forward, a healthy church is praying, seeking God’s face, and asking God for the power of the Holy Spirit that we may fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment that God has given to us.

How can a church health strategist help my church? A church health strategist comes alongside a pastor, staff and congregation to help them as they self-assess their health. Perhaps it has been some time since you have assessed the health of your church. A church health strategist puts you in the right direction so that you can know how your church is doing. Maybe it has been a while since you freshened up your assimilation strategy, and you need some direction. A church health strategist can guide you in some assimilation ideas. Or perhaps, you have decided to reach a certain segment of your community, and you are not quite sure where to start. A church health strategist can help you analyze

the demographics of your region together, so you will know how to best reach your community with the Gospel of Jesus. At the newly-formed Center for Church Health here at Texas Baptists, we have

pastors and leaders who have been in the field just like you, who are experts in areas of church health and growth, evangelism, worship, discipleship, preschool, children, youth and special needs. We have people who are experts about resources for Bible studies. We even have a team who can help you assess your buildings so that you are sure you are making disciples in every single corner of your facility. I’m honored to be one person on this team serving you and serving the state of Texas. For more information about church health and how your church can benefit from Texas Baptists’ services, contact Jonathan Smith at jonathan.smith@txb.org or (214) 828-5315

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What makes a church “healthy”?


2021 TEXAS BAPTISTS ANNUAL MEETING A celebration of our commitment to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment



SPOTLIGHT The Center for Cultural Engagement brings people to God and into community with God’s people by building bridges between people groups, healing brokenness, confronting systemic evils, and speaking truth to power that we might influence the secular towards the sacred. Read the following stories to see how Texas Baptists is reaching every corner of Texas for Christ.

Nehemiah 2:17-18

African American Ministries gives church leaders tools to “Rebuild”

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By Bonnie Shaw, News Writer


African American Ministries strives to minister to African Americans and others in fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus Christ by raising up and training leaders in the African American church body. “We want to be a resource for churches looking to reach their communities and give them the tools and techniques they need to reach their people with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Oza Jones, director of African American Ministries, said. “My dream for African American churches is that every church does

everything they can for the community. I want them to be a pillar for their community. I want to see African American churches not just built up in numbers, but built up spiritually.” In order to best meet the needs of churches, Jones and his team provide

resources, consultations and trainings. One of those trainings, the African American Leadership Workshop, took place virtually March 5-6. The theme of the conference, Rebuild, was focused on equipping church leaders “rebuilding” from the hardships of 2020 and looking ahead to 2021. “As the church we have to learn to avoid the shipwreck,” said Director of African American Ministries Oza Jones. “And so that’s what we’re gonna do in this Rebuild conference. We’re going to guide our churches’ ships through the storms.”


Speakers concentrated on five “ships” churches might need to guide through the storms of 2021: worship, discipleship, partnership, viewership and relationship. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Delbert A. Mack, Sr., pastor of Cathedral of Faith Baptist Church in Beaumont.

“When you depend upon God you can set your sights higher. When you depend upon God your expectations can become greater. When you depend upon God you not only have physical resources, but you also have invisible resources. When you depend upon God you have the greatest power that there is standing by your side,” said Dr. Mack.

“It’s the idea that if we are learning and living the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, then we’re being obedient to what God has commissioned and commanded us to do,” he explained. Francis encouraged attendees to live lives that lead people towards Jesus and to respond to God’s calling to share the Gospel, something that all Christians are called to do.

Discipleship in a digital environment

Relationships in evangelism Carlos Francis, Texas Baptists Associate Evangelism lead and African American specialist, spoke on the importance of relationships in evangelism during his session. He explained that relational evangelism is based on two things, loving the Great Commission and living the Great Commandment.

online, such as podcasts and digital uploads. He reminded churches that digital discipleship has the potential to reach people far beyond the physical church’s neighborhood, and that it is an important tool to utilize in an increasingly digital world.

“ When you depend upon God you have the greatest power that there is standing by your side.”

Ralph Emerson, associate director of the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, – Dr. Delbert A. Mack, Sr spoke about discipleship, especially in a digital environment. He acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic forced Jones hopes that this conference and many churches to pause in-person others like it, as well as the many services, Bible studies and ministries as resources Texas Baptists offers, will they dealt with health and safety issues, empower and equip African American and he encouraged conference attendees churches across the state to grow and to view digital discipleship as a strong make an impact in their communities. way to reach people, instead of as a weaker substitute for in-person practices. “My hope is that churches can come to Texas Baptists and get tools and “Digital discipleship is not different resources to take back home to their discipleship,” he said. “There is a church, so they can do what they need change in the methodology but not to do in their place of worship and their in the ministry.” community,” Jones said. “It’s about building, bridging and branching. That He encouraged churches to leverage means building up the church, bridging digital communications channels, gaps in communities, generations, reaching out to people via phone, between other churches, and branching social media or messaging apps and out to be able to help whoever needs help.” cultivating relationships through Zoom meetings, Facebook Lives and phone calls. Emerson also suggested churches make resources available

For more information, go to txb.org/aam

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In his address, Mack preached from Nehemiah, reminding conference participants that he too faced the challenges of rebuilding when he returned to Jerusalem. But with God, he said, all things are possible.



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Texas Baptists en Español connects and encourages local churches By Bonnie Shaw, News Writer

“We’re at a different church every Sunday,” Muniz explained. “Meeting them in their town and coming to their local church is so great. The pastors are always so excited to host us.” At the churches, Rodriguez and Muniz preach a sermon, then sit and talk with the pastors and leadership of the church to get to know how they can best help the church. “A lot of the conversations have to do with building relationships, seeing the struggles they are facing, encouraging them and learning how we can help them better,” said Muniz. “Then we can connect them with any resources we believe can help them.” This includes helping these churches connect with offices like Texas Baptists Church Architecture and Texas Baptists Counseling Services. They also invite churches to training sessions and share other resources from which the church could benefit. In addition to preaching at local churches, Rodriguez and Muniz are also hosting conferences at the churches. The conference topics range from preaching to evangelism to leadership, and they are held in a range of cities so that pastors from all different parts of the state can benefit. In 2021, the conferences will be hybrid, offering virtual and in-person options as the state continues to adjust to COVID-19 limitations.

While the conferences offer training, they also offer a chance for Rodriguez and Muniz to encourage and uplift the pastors who attend. Most are bi-vocational, Muniz explained, and need encouragement as they balance a job and pastorate. Texas Baptists en Español was launched in 2020. The initiative seeks to connect with Hispanic Baptist churches by encouraging, informing and collaborating to reach the goals the Lord gave them. Texas Baptists en Español can assist congregations in their ministry by contextualizing the wide variety of services and ministries available through Texas Baptists. “Our office has been a powerful tool to impact God’s kingdom, and we want to keep impacting our communities,” Rodriguez explained. “This is a way to achieve a coordinated effort to reach Hispanic people in Texas.” An emphasis was placed on eight areas when the initiative launched: discipleship, evangelism, church starting, reaching the next generation, leadership development, missions, education and church health and revitalization. “We want to make a bigger impact here in Texas,” Rodriguez said, “to collaborate with leaders and pastors to reach more people in Texas for Christ.” For more information, go to txb.org/espanol

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Rolando Rodriguez, Texas Baptists en Español director, and Vidal Muniz, Texas Baptists en Español strategist, have been busy, traveling all around Texas and meeting with Hispanic churches.


Intercultural Ministries joins with Congolese church to provide food for struggling families

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By Bonnie Shaw, News Writer


International Ministries for the Propagation of the Gospel (IMPG), a Congolese church in Houston, was hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with many of the church members losing their jobs. As Pastor Andre Shango talked with his congregants, he realized that 60-70% of them were struggling to afford food. Furthermore, many church members were refugees who spoke limited English and did not know how to access the food pantries available to them. So, Shango reached out to the Texas Baptists Intercultural Ministries office to see how they could help.

SPOTLIGHT Mark Heavener, director of Intercultural Ministries, connected Shango with the Community Transformation Initiative, a grant designed by the Christian Life Commission (CLC) to help churches and ministries financially so that they can make a greater impact on their neighborhood. With the funds provided, plus their own matching funds, IMPG was able to hold a food drive for struggling church and community members.

“ It’s been a beautiful thing because they’re so diverse with so many languages and cultures, but they come together through church and minister to so many across so many divides.”

Their food drive fed 150 families, giving them enough food to last the month. The boxes provided food staples, specifically focusing on food that is traditionally prepared in their home countries.

IMPG was started in 2010 as a small prayer group. Shango works as a caseworker for refugees, and he began holding the prayer meetings to pray for those refugees that he encountered each day. Today, the church has 250 members and is extremely diverse, with people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and more. Every Sunday, sermons are preached in French, with either a Swahili or English translator standing by as well. “This is a good example of how diverse each intercultural church affiliated with Texas Baptists can be,” Heavener said. There are approximately 300 intercultural churches with 80 different languages worshiping with Texas Baptists every Sunday. And within each church, multiple cultures and languages may be represented.

“It’s been a beautiful thing because they’re so diverse with so many languages and cultures, but they come together through church and minister to so many across so many divides,” Heavener said.

English, but they want to be close to God and grow spiritually,” Shango explained. “These people have been through so much, and they want a space where they can be with people who understand them and what they’ve gone through.”

At IMPG, the majority of the church members are refugees who are escaping war or persecution in their home countries. Many have seen or experienced horrible things that have driven them to come to America, and that is why it is so important to have churches and a Christian community they can worship with when they arrive.

The food drive was just the beginning for IMPG, which applied to be a Texas Baptist Hunger Offering Ministry for 2021. With those funds, they are able to continue supporting the food pantry they run from the church, providing long term help to their community.

“It’s so vital to have [intercultural] churches. Most of them don’t speak

“ These people have been through so much, and they want a space where they can be with people who understand them and what they’ve gone through.”

For more information about Intercultural Ministries, go to txb.org/intercultural

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“It was a very good outreach,” Heavener said. “The church was able to connect with people from their community that they hadn’t worked with before. And we were able to help them reach the mission goal.”


Celebration of Life Worship Service calls for affirmation, acceptance and applause

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By Bonnie Shaw, News Writer


“We’re not big names, we’re ordinary people, and if God could help us face difficult decisions and give us strength to get through them, then He could definitely do the same for you,” David Sanchez, director of Ethics and Justice at the Christian Life Commission (CLC), said as he gave his testimony during the 2021 Celebration of Life Worship Service. The service was hosted by the CLC on Jan. 23 at Meadowridge Baptist Church in Fort Worth, where it was also streamed live on Facebook and YouTube. The service was held as a way to affirm those who choose life when the choice is not easy, accept those who are grieving

over past choices and applaud those involved in foster care and adoption. This holistic point of view focused not just on preventing abortion, but healing those who have experienced it and promoting adoption and foster care.

Affirming those who choose life Katie Frugé, associate CLC director and director of Hunger and Care Ministries, shared her testimony with her daughter, Eve. Frugé spoke about the complications that came with her pregnancy with Eve, sharing that the doctors recommended terminating the pregnancy since it was considered very high-risk for both her and Eve. Ultimately, Frugé decided to continue the pregnancy, trusting in the Lord to provide no matter what happened.


“We want to encourage you to remember that God is still there and to lean into Christ, because there is so much life to be had,” Frugé said. “Deciding to trust the maker and giver of life was the best decision I ever made.” Sanchez also shared his family’s testimony about a high-risk pregnancy with his wife where they were told their daughter had a chromosomal disorder known as trisomy-18 and that it was unlikely she would survive past the first year of life. Sanchez explained that as he pondered Psalm 139:13-14, he wondered how his daughter could have a disorder when the Bible describes God as a God of order. “God is a God of order, but that order doesn’t always make sense to us. And He is also a God who gives us peace in the midst of chaos. And that was what we experienced because, even though we knew our future with our daughter looked very bleak, we still had moments of inexplicable joy from the comfort of knowing we were trusting God with the result instead of making the choice ourselves,” Sanchez explained.

Worship was led by the Meadowridge Baptist Church worship team.

Accepting those who grieve past choices Frugé also shared a personal story of discovering that a close family member had an abortion years ago and had been too afraid to tell anyone. Frugé explained that this family member had been grieving and hurting alone and felt trapped and isolated in her pain and unable to be honest about her life and her struggles. “I started realizing when we talk about pro-life, we often separate the people from the numbers… and I think we have really fooled ourselves if we think this is an issue that hasn’t impacted the people in our churches and in our pews,” she said. She encouraged those in attendance to consider the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. She reminded them that Jesus met the woman where she was, in the middle of her shame and hurting, and still loved and spoke with her. “There is plenty of space in Christianity for conviction and compassion. We can have conviction and passion for the vulnerable among us, and that is good. But that should never stand apart from people who are hurting and also need compassion… If we don’t have that compassion, we’re like the Pharisees who sit and point out the sins of others without actually sitting at Jesus’ feet,” Frugé said.

Applauding those called to foster care and adoption David Ummel, director of Faith Fosters Texas, shared about the importance of foster care and adoption, explaining that the foster care system in Texas is considered to be “in crisis” due to the large number of children. He encouraged attendees to get involved with helping these children, whether through fostering, adopting or providing resources and encouragement for others that have. In Texas, 60% of foster families quit after less than a year due to isolation and stress. Churches need to stand by these families to give them the support they need to continue fostering, Ummel explained. “We need to see these children, not as a number or a statistic, but as the children in our community and the kids our kids go to school with. We need to see the problem, and we need to see ourselves as the solution,” he said. The service was closed with a prayer from Randal Lyle, pastor of Meadowridge Baptist Church. For more information about the CLC, go to txb.org/clc

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Frugé acknowledged the fear and anxiety that can come with pregnancy, whether it is potential health risks, financial uncertainty or social stigmas. She encouraged those facing a scary pregnancy to lean on God.


Food pantry ministry in partnership with Hunger Offering serves Austin community

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By Valeria Ramazzini, News Intern


Iglesia Bautista Principe de Paz in Austin has actively served its community through a food pantry ministry for the past 20 years. Through a partnership with the Texas Baptists Hunger Offering and the Central Texas Food Bank, the church has opened its pantry every Wednesday to give out food products to those in need. Throughout this past year, the church has seen a tremendous growth in the people blessed by this ministry.

Rose M. Irizarry, food pantry co-director, shared that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, more people have sought help from their food pantry. “Before COVID, we were averaging about 80-85 people representing different families from the community. Once the

COVID crisis came, we started getting a lot of people that hadn’t regularly come to our food bank. We grew a lot in those months and started averaging 100-120 families. Now, I’d say we’re probably averaging about 145-150 families from the community on a weekly basis,” she said. In order to be prepared and fully equipped to provide for their growing community’s needs, Irizarry explained that the ministry has a specific process of collecting and storing the food before distribution.

Other guidelines include particular conditions in which different products must be stored, following COVID-19 social distancing protocols, following several different cleaning protocols and even having all church volunteers wear gloves when handling food distribution.

“Most people don’t realize this but running a food bank ministry takes a lot of work. There’s more rules than anything else, but we have to follow them in order to get this food to others,” shared Irizarry.

The importance of the Hunger Offering “A couple of years ago, Pastor Nestor Menjivar, our church’s lead pastor, was contacted by the Austin Baptist Association and encouraged to apply to the Hunger Offering. Through them, our church started receiving funds which are not related to the Central Texas Food Bank. This has been a great blessing for us in the overall organization and management of this food pantry ministry,” explained Irizarry. The Hunger Offering is a special offering Texas Baptists has designated for the purpose of ending hunger and poverty through the work of different ministries in Texas and around the world. Katie Frugé, director of the program, explained how the Hunger Offering unites the body of Christ to promote a holistic transformation in the name of Jesus. “The Hunger Offering has empowered communities with much needed resources that they wouldn’t be able to have otherwise. Through the Hunger Offering, smaller ministries such as the food pantry at Iglesia Bautista Principe

de Paz can continue faithfully serving and meeting their community’s needs. When it comes to participation, a little can really go a long way,” she shared. For the food pantry ministry at Iglesia Bautista Principe de Paz, the Hunger Offering funds enabled the ministry to adapt to the new conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. “People couldn’t freely come in or out; we had to keep our distance and even separate ourselves from clients and church volunteers. Through our funds with the Hunger Offering, we were able to buy gloves, sanitizers, masks and other needed supplies to keep everyone safe. As we’ve experienced a lot of growth, the Hunger Offering has been a great blessing to our ministry,” shared Irizarry. Although COVID-19 regulations are changing throughout the state of Texas, Irizarry and the team of church volunteers at Iglesia Bautista Principe de Paz will continue to faithfully serve their community through this food pantry ministry. If you would like more information about the food pantry ministry at Iglesia Bautista Principe de Paz, please visit their website at www.pdpaustin.org. For more information about the Hunger Offering, go to hungeroffering.org

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Alongside the weekly arrangements of managing the food pantry ministry, Irizarry and the church volunteers must also follow several federal guidelines and state regulations regarding food storage and distribution. For example, everyone who comes to receive food must register by filling out a form and providing some form of identification.



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El equipo de Texas Baptists en Español conecta y exhorta a iglesias locales Por Bonnie Shaw, News Writer

“Estamos en una iglesia diferente cada domingo”, explicó Muniz. “Es muy bueno reunirnos con ellos en su pueblo y visitar su iglesia local. Los pastores siempre se emocionan al recibirnos”. Rodríguez y Muniz predican en las iglesias, y entonces se sientan y hablan con los pastores y el liderato de la iglesia para llegar a conocerlos y saber cómo mejor ayudar a la iglesia. “Muchas conversaciones tienen que ver con desarrollar relaciones, ver las luchas que enfrentan, exhortarlos y aprender cómo podemos ayudarles mejor”, dijo Muniz. “Entonces podemos conectarlos con cualquier recurso que pueda ser de ayuda”. Esto incluye ayudar a estas iglesias a conectar con oficinas de los Bautistas de Texas como Arquitectura de la Iglesia y los Servicios de Consejería. También invitan a las iglesias a sesiones de entrenamiento y comparten otros recursos de los cuales la iglesia puede beneficiarse. Además de predicar en iglesias locales, Rodríguez y Muniz presentan conferencias. Los temas para las conferencias varían desde predicación a evangelismo a liderazgo, y se celebran en diversas ciudades para que pastores de todas partes del estado se beneficien. En 2021, las conferencias fueron híbridas, al ofrecer opciones virtuales y en persona según el estado continúa ajustándose a las limitaciones debido al COVID-19.

Además de ofrecer entrenamiento, las conferencias también les dan una oportunidad a Rodríguez y Muniz para exhortar y animar a los pastores que asisten. La mayoría son bivocacionales, Muniz explicó, y necesitan ánimo mientras balancean el empleo y el pastorado. Texas Baptists en Español fue iniciado en 2020. La iniciativa busca conectar con iglesias bautistas hispanas al exhortar, informar, y colaborar para alcanzar las metas que el Señor les ha dado. Texas Baptists en Español pueden ayudar a las congregaciones en su ministerio al contextualizar una amplia variedad de servicios y ministerios disponibles a través de los Bautistas de Texas. Nuestra oficina ha sido una herramienta poderosa para hacer un impacto en el Reino de Dios, y deseamos continuar haciendo un impacto en nuestras comunidades”, explicó Rodríguez. “Es una manera de lograr un esfuerzo coordinado para alcanzar al pueblo hispano en Texas”. Al lanzar la iniciativa, se enfatizó en ocho áreas: discipulado, evangelismo, plantar iglesias, alcanzar a la próxima generación, desarrollo de liderazgo, misiones, educación, y salud y revitalización de la iglesia. “Queremos hacer un mayor impacto aquí en Texas”, dijo Rodríguez, “para colaborar con líderes y pastores para alcanzar a más personas en Texas para Cristo”. Para mas informaciÓn adicional viviste, txb.org/espanol

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Rolando Rodríguez, director de Texas Baptists en Español, y Vidal Muniz, estratega, han estado ocupados viajando por todo Texas y reuniéndose con iglesias hispanas.


CENTER FOR FINANCIAL HEALTH Supporting ministers through grant funds, low-interest loans, and financial literacy

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LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR In this pandemic era, thousands are coming to faith in Christ and you have a strategic part in this spiritual harvest. When you give to the Cooperative Program, you are ensuring Texas Baptists can continue to Share Christ and Show Love where needed most.

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Read the 2020 CP Annual Report and find more info at: txb.org/cp


Your dollars go from your church to churches and ministries around the world to fund Kingdom work taking place in Texas and beyond! All of us are needed to reach our neighbors in need with the Gospel through cooperation and prayerful ministry.

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