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SPOTLIGHT / SEEING GOD AT WORK THROUGH 50 YEARS OF RIVER MINISTRY pg. 14

Volume 5 ∙ Issue 5


TEXAS BAPTISTS EVENT CALENDAR Sun

Mon

Tue

Wed

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1 October

2

3

4

5

Fri

Sat

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7

Special Friends Retreat, Cedar Hill Bivocational Pastor and Spouse Retreat, East Texas Church Library Conference, Waco

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MinistrySafe Regional Church Safety Workshop, San Antonio

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12

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30

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Hispanic Leadership Conference, Dallas

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3

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Executive Pastor Retreat, Dallas

MinistrySafe Regional Church Safety Workshop, Granbury

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Childhood Ministry Certification Program, Dallas

Youth Ministry Conclave, Arlington

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Worship Summit, Marshall

1 November

2

Texas Church College Ministry Retreat, San Antonio MinistrySafe Regional Church Safety Workshop, McAllen

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Handbell Festival, Kerrville

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1 December

2

Speak Freedom Texas

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Texas Baptists Annual Meeting, Waco

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Thanksgiving 26

27

28

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5

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TEX AS BAPTISTS LIFE / VOLUME 5 • ISSUE 5 / SEPTEMBER 2017

F E AT U R E S

Transformation through unique church-sponsored BSM A place to stay, a path to restoration Finding an answer to the call to ministry SPOTLIGHT

Seeing God at work through 50 years of River Ministry The valley of redemption Spiritual and physical healing through medical missions Sanidad fisica y espiritual por medio de las misiones medicas IN E VE RY ISSU E

Event Calendar Letter from Executive Director Impact: Texas Baptists News Who we are and what we do

SPSP OTOT LIG LIG HTHT : SE : EN EIN GA GGIN GO

SPOTLIGHT: ENGAGING DIVERSE CULTURES FOR CHRIST PG. 13

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dies, s hy bo Healt churche hy healt pg. 8 make ps to 5 ste st of your as e the moexperienc mp ca r a leade pg. 18

g the Makin ry of the myste known at el Gosp Summer r Supe pg. 22

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Volume. 5 ∙ Issue 4

Making missions possible through Mary Hill Davis Offering scholarships

Volum Vo lumee. 5 5 ∙ ∙Iss Issue ue 54

pg.8

Makin poss g mission ibl Hill Da e throug s scho vis Of fe h Mary larsh ring ips

Project Start helps Kenyans church expand capacity for refugee ministry

pg. 8

pg. 18

Training DBU business students to serve in the marketplaces of the world pg.26

Proje Keny ct Star t he an expa s church lps nd refug capacit ee mi y nistry for

pg. 18

Traini stud ng DBU bu en the ma ts to se siness rv the wo rketpla e in ces of rld pg. 26

WE ARE SENDING ENOUGH TO SHARE! P U B L I C AT I O N T E A M

Joshua Seth Minatrea, Director of Communications Kalie Lowrie, News Director Jeremy Honea, Art Director Kirsten McKimmey, News Writer Jordan Parker, Multimedia Specialist Kristen Clardy, Graphic Designer 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, call 214.828.5232 or email subscriptions@texasbaptists.org.

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Hello, Texas Baptists! This year marks a significant milestone in the mission work of our Texas Baptists family. We are celebrating 50 years of River Ministry, which began in 1967. In this edition of Texas Baptists Life, you will be able to learn all the history and read some great stories about this wonderful ministry. Enjoy! I do want to commend our River Ministry Director Daniel Rangel for his good work. Daniel serves on our Missions Team, under the direction of Josue Valerio, and is serving Texas Baptists well. Working alongside Daniel, on the River, all the way from Brownsville to El Paso are 15 Texas Baptists River Ministry Coordinators who serve as our missionaries. A year ago, at the First Baptist Church of San Antonio, we held a commissioning service for them. It was a powerful, spiritual experience. Thanks to Pastor Don Guthrie and FBC for hosting such a great event. It was under Elmin Howell's leadership and through his passion for the Gospel that BGCT River Ministry began in 1967. On June 4, at the Independence Baptist Church, on our annual Texas Baptist Legacy Award Day, we were able to honor Elmin as a recipient. We owe much to him and we were proud to honor him on such a great day. Our other recipient was Dr. Paul Stripling, longtime Texas Baptist pastor and Director of Missions. Please allow me to extend to you an invitation to join us for a 50th Anniversary River Ministry dinner at our Annual Meeting this coming November in Waco. The dinner is sponsored by our Missions Team and will be on Monday evening, November 13. It will be worth your time to attend. Please contact Stacey Rice at 214.828.5370 or stacey.rice@texasbaptists.org to make your reservations, and the sooner the better. Finally, if you and your church are interested in doing mission work through our River Ministry, please prayerfully consider doing so. It's a good work. And just recently our own Valley Baptist Missions Education Center has completed construction on a beautiful new housing facility for those coming to the Valley for River Ministry work. It is very nice! On behalf of our Texas Baptists family, thank you for your support. You are a blessing to us and bright days are ahead.

BLESSINGS AND BENDICIONES,

D AV I D H A R D A G E E XECUTIVE DIRECTOR DIRECTOR E JECU TIVO

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¡Hola, Bautistas de Texas! Este año marca un momento importante en la obra misionera de nuestra familia de Bautistas de Texas. Estamos celebrando 50 años del Ministerio en el Río, el cual comenzó en el 1967. En esta edición de Texas Baptists Life, usted conocerá toda la historia y leerá algunos interesantes relatos acerca de este maravilloso ministerio. ¡Espero que disfrute! Deseo reconocer al Director del Ministerio en el Río, Daniel Rangel, por su buen trabajo. Daniel sirve en nuestro Equipo de Misiones bajo la dirección de Josué Valerio, y sirve a los Bautistas de Texas también. Trabajando junto a Daniel en el Río, desde Brownsville hasta El Paso, hay 15 Coordinadores del Ministerio en el Río sirviendo como misioneros. Hace un año, en la Primera Iglesia Bautista de San Antonio, celebramos un servicio de comisión para ellos. Fue una experiencia espiritual poderosa. Agradecemos al Pastor Don Guthrie y a su iglesia por auspiciar tan gran evento. Fue bajo el liderazgo de Elmin Howell y por medio de su pasión por el evangelio que el Ministerio en el Río de la Convención General Bautista de Texas (BGCT) comenzó en el 1967. El 4 de junio, en la Iglesia Bautista Independence, durante el Día de reconocimiento de legado anual de los Bautistas de Texas, pudimos honrar a Elmin. Le debemos mucho y estamos orgullosos de honrarle en un día tan especial. Además, también pudimos honrar al Dr. Paul Stripling, un pastor Bautista de Texas con mucha experiencia y Director de Misiones. Permítame por este medio extenderle una invitación a participar con nosotros en una cena por el 50mo Aniversario del Ministerio del Río durante nuestra Reunión Anual este próximo mes de noviembre en Waco. Esta cena es auspiciada por nuestro Equipo de Misiones y se llevará a cabo el lunes 13 de noviembre, en la noche. Valdrá la pena su asistencia. Por favor, comuníquese con Stacey Rice al número de teléfono 214.828.5370 o por correo electrónico a stacey.rice@texasbaptists.org para hacer reservaciones, lo más pronto posible. Por último, si usted y/o su iglesia están interesados en hacer obra misionera a través del Ministerio en el Río, consideren en oración hacerlo. Es una buena obra. Y, nuestro propio centro de Educación de Misiones Bautistas en el Valle ha finalizado la construcción de un hermoso dormitorio para los que vayan a hacer obra de Ministerio en el Río en el Valle. ¡Está muy bonito! A nombre de nuestra familia de los Bautistas de Texas, le agradezco su respaldo. Usted es una bendición para nosotros y nos esperan días prometedores.


IMPACT: TEXAS BAPTISTS NEWS

LEGACY AWARDS HONOR ELMIN HOWELL AND PAUL STRIPLING Friends and family gathered together in Independence, Texas, on June 4 to honor the lives and legacies of Dr. Paul Stripling and Elmin Howell at the 2017 Texas Baptists Legacy Awards. Stripling, executive director emeritus of the Waco Baptist Association, and Howell, former director of the River Ministry, have both faithfully served in Texas Baptists ministry throughout their lives.

CONVENCIÓN HIGHLIGHTS TRANSFORMATION Centered around the theme of transformation, the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas Annual Meeting was held June 25-27 at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio. More than 1,200 were in attendance at the three-day annual gathering, which included tracks for children, youth, young Latino leaders, English speakers and ministers. The 100th Anniversary of Union Femenil Misionera de Texas (UFM) was celebrated during the conference, new Convención officers were elected during the business session, and three bylaw changes were approved.

TEXAS BAPTISTS HOST HISTORIC PRESENTATION OF UZBEK BIBLE Texas Baptists, alongside the Institute for Bible Translation (Moscow, Russia) and Global Heart Ministries (Plano, TX), recently hosted a historic presentation of the first translation of the Holy Bible into the Uzbek language. Uzbekistan, listed among countries where Christians face the most severe persecution for their faith, has never seen a full translation of the Bible in the country’s native language. Uzbeks will now have the complete Bible in their language, a significant achievement close to 20 years in the making. 6

TEXAS BAPTISTS LIFE


STUDENT CHOIRS JOIN FOR CONVERGE CONCERT Student choirs from around the state came together June 17-18 for Converge, an annual student choir event, which is made possible by a partnership with Texas Baptists Music & Worship and Southland Baptist Church in San Angelo. Over 180 students registered and sang for two Sunday morning services at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas. Stephen Carrell, associate pastor of worship and music at PCBC, directed the mass choir as they led in worship.

TEXAS BAPTIST ELIJAH BROWN ELECTED GENERAL SECRETARY OF BWA Elijah Brown, executive vice president of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, was elected as the next General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance on July 7 at the BWA General Assembly held in Bangkok, Thailand. Brown is the first Texas Baptist to serve in this capacity and, at the age of 36, the youngest person to be elected to the position.

AFRICAN AMERICAN FELLOWSHIP CONFERENCE CELEBRATES TOGETHERNESS The 2017 African American Fellowship Conference was held from July 10-13 at Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Tyler. This multi-faceted training event, centered around the theme “Harambee: Bringing Us Together,” introduced ministry resources to church leaders in a unique, encouraging and enriching context to the African American Church. Various workshops, mission projects as well as prayer and worship services were held during the event.

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TRANSFORMATION THROUGH UNIQUE CHURCH- SPONSORED BSM B Y K I R S T E N M C K I M M E Y, N E W S W R I T E R

For those attending two-year community colleges, a lack of strong Christian community is a prevalent struggle. Whether students commute, work a full-time job or have a family, it is challenging for them to find others to walk through life with. However, churches are seeking to solve this problem by partnering with Texas Baptists Collegiate Ministry to start their very own Baptist Student Ministries.

Verna Watson Tolbert and Linda Cain, members of Westside Baptist Church, envisioned a place on campus where students, no matter their age or background, could come together to learn more about Jesus, while building relationships with one another. Church members and staff were drawn to the idea of pouring into the non-traditional student body. After vision casting, members from the church met with Beth Smith, campus consultant for Texas Baptists Collegiate Ministry. She gave them a brief introduction to the ministry, and helped plan, prepare and equip the church to start their very own BSM. Every step the church took to start this BSM was marked with prayer. They knew this call to ministry would only come to fruition by the faithfulness of the Lord. “The first thing we did was pray about the BSM. A number of us went and prayer walked on the college campus for the students we would encounter through this ministry. Then we were able to meet with the student advisory board to discuss logistics. The process didn’t go as planned, but we never ceased praying. The doors eventually opened and we were able to start our ministry,” said Bobby Jones, minister of discipleship for Westside Baptist Church.

“Due to the large number of college students in Texas (1.6 million), the opportunities are so vast that we need a combination of both church-based and campus-based Baptist Student ministries,” said Bruce McGowan, director of Texas Baptists Collegiate Ministry. “Thus, we welcome churches using BSM for access to the campus. Even our campus-based BSMs are closely connected, partnering through the financial support of churches. The ‘harvest field’ is too vast without both churches and BSMs seeking to reach students.” Westside Baptist Church in Killeen is one of many churches that have taken the initiative to start and sponsor their own BSMs. Located right in their backyard, Texas A&M University– Central Texas is an upper division college for junior and senior-level students. About 40 percent of the 2,400 students are affiliated with the military, so this unconventional student body requires a unique ministry.

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The BSM began in October of 2015, and was named the Christian Student Ministry Warriors for Christ. Jones was appointed BSM Director, along with Verna Watson Tolbert and Mariti Jones who serve as staff. The BSM is officially sponsored by Westside Baptist Church along with Bell Baptist Association.

is happening. “ transformation it’s not your average college, but as long as god is working, i believe we will prevail.

The ministry has 15 to 20 regular attendees of their weekly bible study. They are also involved in various other activities and outreaches.


Just a few projects students, staff members and volunteers of the BSM are involved in include setting up booths around campus to increase awareness, spending time at a local nursing home to distribute handmade blankets and helping with the church’s clothing outreach ministry. “One family the students had the opportunity to serve ended up coming and joining our church. The mother was saved and they baptized her 16-year-old daughter and her 14-year-old son,” said Jones. It is evident that this ministry is having an impact on more than just the students, but the community as a whole, according to Jones. A number of professors are also actively involved in the ministry. One professor coordinated his schedule so he could lead the weekly bible study and be with the students. Other professors and staff members are available to keep the BSM running during the summer.

“The students are growing in their knowledge of Jesus Christ. We believe in the Great Commission and we do it,” said Jones. “When we are out on campus discussing the ministry, our students boldly approach conversations and share the Gospel.” He continued, “Transformation is happening. It’s not your average college, but as long as God is working, I believe we will prevail.” TO LE ARN MORE ABOUT SPONSORING A BSM ON A C O L L E G E C A M P U S N E A R YO U R C H U R C H , C O N TA C T G I N G E R B O W M A N AT G I N G E R . B O W M A N @T E X A S B A P T I S T S . O R G O R V I S I T T E X A S B A P T I S T S . O R G/C O L L E G I AT E .


A Place to Stay, a path to restoration BY K ALIE LOWRIE , NE WS DIRECTOR

A F T E R T H E S I X- H O U R D R I V E F R O M L U F K I N T O A B I L E N E , R O S E A N N E W E L C H WA S T H A N K F U L F O R T H E WA R M W E L C O M E S H E R E C E I V E D A S S H E WA L K E D I N T H E D O O R O F T H E E U N I C E C H A M B L E S S H O S P I TA L I T Y H O U S E . “I felt like I was coming to visit my family,” Welch said. “Everyone was so kind and welcoming from the moment we arrived. It felt like home.” This was the first trip Welch made to visit her son, who is incarcerated in the French Robertson Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, since he was transferred from Huntsville to Abilene. As a single mom, with one son still at home, Welch’s budget was tight. Before hearing about the hospitality house, which provides housing to the families of inmates at little to no cost, she was unsure how she would be able to make frequent visits to see her son.

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“With that off my mind – the financial burden lifted – I can relax and enjoy the visit,” Welch said. “I won’t have to worry about the budget when I get home. It takes a huge weight off your mind. It makes it something where you can plan the next visit – you don’t have to wait for the budget to clear up.” Established in 1999 and located across the street from the Abilene prison system, ECHH ministers to the physical and spiritual needs of all who pass through. The 7,000-square-foot facility features single and family-sized rooms, a community kitchen, large gathering room, and is open every weekend to visitors to the Robertson and Middleton Units of TDCJ. It is funded by support from the Abilene Baptist Association, local churches, individual donors and Texas Baptists’ Christian Life Commission community care grants. “ECHH is much more than housing. It’s much more than having a place to stay. It’s an opportunity to minister to families,” said Toby Hensen, pastor of First Baptist Church of Clyde and ECHH treasurer.


Tim and Yogi Christesson have served as the ECHH directors since 2008, providing care and love to all who stay.

For Welch, the two-day visit with her son was necessary to keep his spirits up and remind him that he has family.

The Christessons have countless stories of relationships developed through the ministry, as they have ministered to families traveling from Houston and El Paso, even as far as England.

“Where he’s at right now is not where he will always be,” she said. “I am visiting so he doesn’t lose heart, to keep that hope alive.”

“You know when they are here, they are going to be loved on,” said Jacob West, pastor of First Baptist Church Stamford and chair of the board for ECHH. “Our directors are going to do everything they can to show the love of Christ to everybody that walks through the door.” The namesake, Eunice Chambless, desired a place for families to come and hear about the love of Christ. She saw the house as a way to live out the Gospel, according to Dr. Phil Christopher, pastor of First Baptist Church of Abilene. West sees the ministry at ECHH as a continuation of Chambless’ vision. “This ministry at the Eunice Chambless Hospitality House is about loving your neighbor as yourself,” West said. “Jesus said the people who inherit the Kingdom of God are those who go and check on people in prison. He said, ‘I was in prison and you came to see me.’ We want to minister to the people who are going to the prisons, seeing their families, seeing their friends and encouraging them in their effort to love their family and follow Jesus Christ.”

The safety, warmth and proximity to the prison provided Welch the support she needed. She looks forward to more visits with her son and returning to the ECHH soon.

EVERYONE WAS SO KIND AND WELCOMING FROM THE MOMENT WE ARRIVED. IT FELT LIKE HOME.

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SPOTLIGHT / 50 YEARS OF RIVER MINISTRY

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Seeing god at work through 50 years of river ministry Read about the beginning of Texas Baptists River Ministry in 1967, the growth and challenges and how God is still at work through this vital ministry along the border and into the heart of Mexico.

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Snapshots of Present-Day River Ministry Learn more about different ways Texas Baptists are at work along the Rio Grande and how your church can join in.

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Physical & spiritual healing through medical missions Read about how God has transformed Dr. Luis Davila’s family and why he is passionate about medical missions in Acuña, Mexico.

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Sanidad fisica y espiritual por medio de las misiones medicas Read the Spanish translation of Dr. Luis Arturo Davila’s work in Acuña, Mexico, through medical missions.

The valley of redemption Brenda Bermudez shares a powerful testimony of how God provided for her family of six and now sustains her ongoing ministry to her community.

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SPOTLIGHT / ENGAGING DIVERSE CULTURES

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SPOTLIGHT / 50 YEARS OF RIVER MINISTRY

n 1967, the Baptist General Convention of Texas recognized the 2 million people living along the border of Texas and Mexico as an important mission point and launched the Rio Grande Mission Thrust with $250,000 allocated for missions opportunities. Texas Baptists responded to the call of God to minister to those along the Rio Grande and 50 years later, River Ministry is still vibrant and life-changing. In September 1967, just six months after the Rio Grande Mission Thrust initiative began, Hurricane Beulah ripped through the Texas and Mexico border resulting in the displacement of 300,000 Americans and Mexicans from their homes, wreaking massive destruction along the border. One week before the hurricane, Rio Bravo (brave river) was the mission emphasis for the Mary Hill Davis Offering for State Missions, coordinated through WMU of Texas. God’s hand was at work before the natural catastrophe occurred and Texas Baptists were intentionally praying for opportunities to minister. Moved by the great need along the Rio Grande, Texas Baptists churches responded with gifts of $645,950, which was the largest offering ever given to state missions, with one-half going to fund border ministry.

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SPOTLIGHT / 50 YEARS OF RIVER MINISTRY

TIMELINE 1967 Texas Baptists fund Rio Grande Mission Thrust (RGMT), later renamed River Ministry Hurricane Beulah hit South Texas & Mexico causing additional needs for missions and ministry on the border

1968 First church planted in Nuevo Progreso, Mexico; first water well drilled in Porvenir, Mexico; first commissioned summer missionaries Elmin K. Howell named first coordinator

1969 Dr. John Bagwell named state healthcare director First retreat meeting held at Latham Springs Baptist Encampment with 200 volunteers and church leaders

“River Ministry has given the average layperson from the church pew an opportunity to be an integral part of this mission field.” - Elmin Howell, director from 1968 – 1996

1970 Mighty River Handcrafts started to train women in border towns on how to create items they could sell for profit

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New leadership provides strong direction

A season of growing and new opportunities

Elmin K. Howell was named the first River Ministry coordinator in 1968 and went on to lead the ministry effort for the next 28 years. The ministry was as varied as the people from El Paso to Brownsville, but the purpose and ultimate reason for ministry was the same–to meet spiritual needs.

The 1970s brought about efforts to help families on both sides of the border meet immediate physical needs. Square foot gardening was taught as an intensive, year-round method of family vegetable production. Under direction of churches, numerous water wells were dug, providing access to much-needed clean water supplies. Training was offered on caring for livestock. Rabbits were given to families for meat, chickens for eggs, and goats for milk and meat. Medical needs were also met through volunteer teams of healthcare professionals who performed clinics, provided eyeglasses and sought to treat illnesses and ailments as needed.

“All other efforts–agricultural, medical, economical–are the vehicles by which the message of God’s saving grace expressed in Jesus Christ can be shared. Projects are but opportunities to demonstrate God’s concern for people and thereby occasion the personal testimony of a vital relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ,” according to With These Hands, a history of River Ministry, written by Howell and Wilma Reed. Howell identified three ways churches through Texas could partner with work along the border: sponsorships, partnerships and financial support. Hundreds of Texas Baptists churches found ways to partner along the Rio Grande, some sending teams to lead Vacation Bible Schools and others to dig wells or help with construction projects.

In many areas, churches were planted following the successful efforts of medical clinics and agricultural projects. Vacation Bible Schools led by mission groups in partnership with local churches were also an effective catalyst for the formation of new church cell groups. Depending on the lifestyle of the people and geography, different approaches to church planting occurred. By 1994, there were 560 churches planted through River Ministry efforts and partnerships.


SPOTLIGHT / 50 YEARS OF RIVER MINISTRY

1971 Agricultural program launched; families learn about raising poultry, rabbits and beekeeping

1972 D.L. Kite hired as agriculture consultant

1973 Instituto de Capacitation Teologica founded in Rio Bravo, later moved to Matamoros

Unexpected events open doors for ministry On September 19, 1985, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico City and caused great destruction. This opened the door for Texas Baptist Men Disaster Relief to bring volunteers into the city and partner with Mexican Baptists. Over the course of one month, 150,000 meals were served and more than 4,000 people accepted Jesus. With immense gratitude for the quick response of aid, the National Baptist Convention of Mexico formed a partnership with Texas Baptists. In 1995, River Ministry saw an outpouring of support with 12,000 volunteers and 600 mission teams serving, the most in one year since 1980. While leading a prayer walk in Juarez in 2000, then-Director Dexton Shores said, “As Texas Baptists, we now have the most challenging opportunity and responsibility for impacting the Kingdom of God in the 32-year history of River Ministry.”

1976 The Mexican city across the border from El Paso was growing at the rate of 1,500 people per day and was expected to triple the population within 20 years. At the time, 70 percent of River Ministry funding was spent on the Mexican side of the border supporting medical clinics, children’s homes, evangelism efforts, church planting and more. An unforeseen occurrence which changed the nature of River Ministry was the escalation of violence in border towns in the early 2000s. As safety concerns arose, the frequency of mission teams slowed. However, despite dangerous circumstances, Texas Baptists living in the cities continued ongoing ministry. Prayer and ministry through Valley Reach occurred in McAllen in 2010, in conjunction with Texas Baptists’ Annual Meeting and River Ministry launched “No Más Violencia,” a training program with spiritual foundations to promote peace along the border.

Mexican Rural Work Committee began

1977 First permanent medical facility established in Los Fresnos, Mexico

1978 Dairy goat program began; Mexico border pastors’ retreat held in Piedras Negras

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SPOTLIGHT / 50 YEARS OF RIVER MINISTRY

1982 With These Hands by Elmin K. Howell and Wilma Reed published and presented, celebrating 15 years of River Ministry Hispanic Baptists of Texas Convention set a goal of planting 2,000 Hispanic churches in Texas by 2000

1983 55 simultaneous revivals held in northern Mexico

1985 Major earthquake hits Mexico City; Texas Baptist Disaster Recovery responded and formalized partnership with National Baptist Convention of Mexico established

1988 Hurricane Gilbert hit the Yucatán Peninsula and Texas Baptists responded with giving, missions and ministry

1990 “Here’s Hope” simultaneous revivals held with nearly 4,000 professions of faith

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Present-day ministry empowers local churches Today, River Ministry is vibrant, growing and much needed as Texas Baptists seek to reach more than 2.7 million people living along the 1,240 miles of the border and millions more unreached in Mexico. While some needs and tactics have changed, the strategy remains the same– to share the love of Jesus. Funding for River Ministry is made possible through Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, Mary Hill Davis Offering, coordinated by WMU, Texas Baptist Worldwide missions offerings and endowments. River Ministry Director Daniel Rangel has seen God’s continued hand over the missions and ministry along the Rio Grande. Since he began his leadership in 2009, Rangel has seen local churches along the border take ownership of their ministries. Rather than mission teams only serving on short-term projects, multi-year partnerships have formed between in-state churches and local churches for long-lasting ministry and impact. “We want to work shoulder to shoulder,” Rangel said. “That means I come and partner with you to do the ministry God has called you to do through church starting, evangelism, training or social ministry.” Currently, 15 River Ministry missionaries live along the border in strategic locations to facilitate ministry efforts with local churches and strengthen partnerships with Texas Baptists churches around the state.

“We have always had people on the border who represent Texas Baptists,” said Rangel. “They live in that community, work in that community, are involved in ministry and have relationships with churches. Our missionaries can communicate what the needs are and share about Texas Baptists resources.” Texas Baptists also have developed church starting covenants with the National Baptist Convention of Mexico, including the support of seven church starters and two facilitators who promote ministry and work with mission congregations to become churches. River Ministry has also expanded into church starting covenants with three regional conventions located in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. Many of these church planting efforts are in the Bajio Region of Mexico, which has less than two percent of professing evangelicals, similar to that of the 10/40 window in the Middle East. “A lot of people have the misconception that Mexico is very well evangelized. However, there are areas that have tremendous need,” Rangel said. “One of our goals on the border is for our local churches to go to those unreached areas in Mexico and share the Gospel.” The following pages share stories of ongoing ministry through River Ministry, centered around the priorities of evangelism, leadership training and family and church health. To learn more about how you and your church can partner with Texas Baptists River Ministry, contact Daniel Rangel at daniel.rangel@texasbaptists.org or visit texasbaptists.org/riverministry.


SPOTLIGHT / 50 YEARS OF RIVER MINISTRY

1992 The Bible Institute in Nuevo Laredo graduates its first class

1993 55 River Ministry Regional Consultants placed throughout state 24 new churches planted along Rio Grande

1995 Over 12,000 volunteers served on 600 missions teams

1996

“We saw an enhanced voice of the Texas Baptist associations. The borderland theme gained expression and resonated among hundreds of ministry and mission engagements.” - Lynn Eckeberger, director from 1996-2000

Howell retires after 28 years as director; H. Lynn Eckeberger named new director Transcultural Missionary Preparation Center dedicated

1998 Six “on-site” retreats hosted for churches to participate in ministry on the border

2000 Dexton Shores named new director

Second Row Left: Medical students from UT-Southwestern BSM pray with patients at an El Paso medical clinic

Top Left: Jaime Mata, pastor of Iglesia Bautista En Bien Pastor; Edy Santivanez, associate pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Grand Prairie; and Osvaldo Lerma, River Ministry missionary in Brownsville

Second Row Right: Volunteer from Lakeside Baptist Church painting Pastor Jaime Mata’s home in Brownsville Bottom Row Left & Right: Neighborhood block party hosted at Iglesia Bautista En Bien Pastor

“We saw pastors, coordinators and local leadership grow and take ownership of the ministry.” - Dexton Shores, director from 2000-2008

FBC Midland shows “Jesus” film to 1 million people in Juarez, resulting in 48,500 professions of faith

2005 Texas Baptists sign church planting covenant with National Baptist Convention of Mexico and begin funding church planters

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SPOTLIGHT / 50 YEARS OF RIVER MINISTRY

Snapshots of present-day 2006 Dexton Shores leads vision trips for Texas Baptists interested in ministry to indigenous people groups in Mexico

2008 Rio de Esperanza serves as a kickoff for Texas Hope 2010, a BGCT initiative to communicate the hope of Christ to every Texan by Easter 2010

2009 Daniel Rangel named new director

2010 Valley Reach held in conjunction with Texas Baptists Annual Meeting in McAllen. By midNovember more than 760 professions of faith were recorded through 48 projects and 82 churches

“We look forward with great anticipation for all God will continue to do through this vital ministry.” - Daniel Rangel, director from 2009 – present

Training church leaders for impact

Facilitating church partnerships

Daniel Rangel joined with Mario Gonzalez, director of Texas Baptists Multi-housing and House Congregations, to train house church leaders on ministering to new congregations in Laredo. Church leaders learned skills for small group Bible study, 4xFour evangelism, Study Bible resources as well as help with sermon outlines. Other training opportunities include “No Más Violencia,” teaching how to stop physical and emotional violence in families, neighborhoods, schools and city streets; Raising Highly Capable Kids, parenting classes taught by church leaders in local schools; and ministry training for local church leaders.

In June, Lakeview Baptist Church and Inglewood Baptist Church, sister congregations from Grand Prairie, coordinated a joint mission trip through Texas Baptists River Ministry Missionary Osvaldo Lerma to Brownsville. The group of 25 served alongside Iglesia Bautista En Bien Pastor, a mission church which began 10 years ago. During the week, the team led conferences for youth and women, helped with much-needed repairs on Mata’s home, repaired the flooring in a church member’s home and hosted a block party for children in the community.

Meeting physical needs

Caring for refugees

2011 “No Más Violencia” initiative trainings introduced along the border to reduce violence within families

2016 River Ministry Coordinators commissioned as Texas Baptists missionaries in a ceremony in San Antonio

2017 River Ministry celebrated 50 years along the Rio Grande and into Mexico

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Every Friday, Brenda Bermudez and a group of women from Iglesia Bautista Emanuel in Alton serve food to more than 80 families in her colonia. The ministry provides Brenda and other women from their church with the opportunity to build relationships with neighbors and shine the love of Christ. (Read Brenda’s story on page 22). The Texas Baptist Hunger Offering supports local church feeding ministries, just like Brenda’s, by providing funds for food through River Ministry partners.

The McAllen Refugee Relief Center has been in constant operation since 2014, when refugees from Central America began traveling in large groups across the border into McAllen. Around 72,000 people have crossed through the center, where they have received love, care, prayer and much-needed respite before continuing on their journey to their final destinations. Churches who partner with Texas Baptists River Ministry send volunteers to work at the refugee center during their visits and also provide donations of clothing and toiletries as they minister to spiritual needs.


SPOTLIGHT / 50 YEARS OF RIVER MINISTRY

Meet Osvaldo and Vanessa Lerma River Ministry Missionaries in the Valley

PEOPLE SERVED

MISSION GROUP VOLUNTEERS

PROFESSIONS OF FAITH

Osvaldo and Vanessa Lerma have served as Texas Baptists River Ministry missionaries in the Rio Grande Valley for a combined 25 years. From the colonias in Mission to the beaches of South Padre Island, the Lermas coordinate ongoing ministry on both sides of the border. Vanessa works primarily in McAllen, Harlingen and Mission, while Osvaldo covers the Brownsville region. They easily put 100-200 miles on their cars each day as they work with different ministry partners across their territory. Building trust and deepening relationships with local pastors are key components of ministry, according to Osvaldo. He checks in each month with many area pastors and asks what needs they have in their congregations. After hearing expressed needs — ranging from spiritual and emotional to physical — Osvaldo seeks to provide help and connect pastors with resources. Vanessa expressed gratitude to Texas Baptists churches around the state who have invested in River Ministry and partnered together for greater impact.

“Mission teams have been a blessing for many years to our local churches and within our communities,” Vanessa said. “The biggest blessing is seeing the transformation in families and seeing God’s love through Bible studies, donations, training, equipping and empowering them. It has been key in our families, as you share God’s love, you see this hope in their lives.” By meeting immediate needs through medical and dental care, or through a feeding ministry, Vanessa has seen the help turn into glimpses of hope for individuals and many lives have been changed. The Lermas invite Texas Baptists churches to continue partnership with ministry in the Rio Grande Valley.

LOCAL CHURCH VOLUNTEERS

MINISTRIES STARTED

PATIENTS SEEN

CHURCHES PLANTED

“When outside churches come, you strengthen the work the local church is already doing,” Osvaldo said.

Get involved To learn more about partnering with River Ministry through these opportunities, including planning a mission trip to the Texas border or Mexico, contact Daniel Rangel at daniel.rangel@texasbaptists.org or visit texasbaptists.org/riverministry. SEPTEMBER 2017

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The

y e l l Vaof BY

EY MCKIMM KIRSTEN

WRITER , NEWS


SPOTLIGHT / 50 YEARS OF RIVER MINISTRY

B R E N DA B E R M U D E Z A N D H E R FA M I LY A R E J U S T A F E W O F M A N Y W H O H AV E E X P E R I E N C E D T H E LORD’S REDEMPTION IN THEIR LIVES IN THE MODEST COLONIA OF MI SUEÑO IN THE RIO G R A N D E VA L L E Y. As a single mother of five, Bermudez’s life has been anything but easy. Bermudez has endured the pangs of divorce, financial stress, and limited resources and space. She often relied on her own strength rather than the Lord’s, something that would quickly come to a halt. Though suffering had been a common theme in Bermudez’s life, she continually sought to provide for her children above all else. Upon hearing about a Vacation Bible School happening in a nearby community, Bermudez decided to take her children, desiring that they be involved with others and cared for spiritually. “I wanted them to know about the word of God,” she said. During VBS, the church members and volunteers of Iglesia Bautista Emanuel in Alton began inviting Bermudez and her children to church. Eventually, the family began attending, and Bermudez joined the women’s ministry where they would build relationships with one another through studying the Bible and doing various crafts together. Bermudez’s children quickly clung to the grace the Lord offers. “When I started going to church, I noticed my family paying attention and really learning from the Word. As a result of seeing my kids grow in church, it struck me that I desired to learn more about the Lord as well,” said Bermudez. Seeing a transformation in her own children, Bermudez truly understood her need for Jesus Christ for the first time. She surrendered her life to Christ and embraced the church and women’s ministry more than ever before. At the time, Bermudez and her children were living in a small trailer with only one room. Little did she know that the Lord was about to give her one of the best gifts she had ever received. Vanessa Quintanilla-Lerma, Texas Baptists River Ministry missionary in McAllen and active member of the women’s ministry, connected Bermudez with the Valley Baptist Association. They worked together to donate a large twobedroom trailer to Bermudez and her family. They blessed her with something she would never forget — a home. “From that time on, I could see that God never left me,” Bermudez said. Immediately, Bermudez desired to use the home the Lord had given her to bless those struggling in her community. Members from Bermudez’s church began visiting her community once a month to assess the needs of the people, and quickly discovered a considerable number of families that lacked healthy, sustainable food. That’s when the Lord laid it on the hearts of those in the church to begin a feeding ministry.

Bermudez was passionate about serving with the feeding ministry, just as she had received the service of others. After planning, preparation and gathering resources, the women from Iglesia Bautista Emanuel began coming to Bermudez’s home to distribute the food to the community out of a small room they built on her property. The women currently meet every Friday to assemble food packages for families in the community. Resources are donated by various local ministries who serve the communities on both the state side and in Mexico, including the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering. They work to gather and donate canned food items as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers, berries, bread and tortillas. More than 80 families are served consistently every week, but the women have been able to serve up to 150 families in a week. “ W E A R E A L S O B L E S S E D BY T H E H U N G E R O F F E R I N G BY B E I N G A B L E T O S E RV E T H E C O M M U N I T Y,” SAID LERMA. Missions teams spend weeks out of their summers to help Bermudez and the church with their feeding ministry, while putting on Vacation Bible Schools for the children in the community, which has left a great impact on everyone. “There’s a great need here. It doesn’t matter how hot it is, the community is constantly here wanting to know more about the ministry and receive a blessing as well. Moms are continually asking throughout the summer when missions teams will be here because they see the impact they have on their children,” said Bermudez. The church is currently planning a back-to-school event for the children in the community. This will be a time to share Bible stories, serve hot dogs and snow cones, and provide essential items such as clothing, blankets and school supplies. Last year, they had the opportunity to serve over 200 children at the event. “I’m very thankful to God because my kids have a home. I want to help because I am thankful for all God has given me. Everything I do I do from my heart,” said Bermudez as she reflected on Colossians 3:23. The transformation of one family has led to the transformation of an entire community because of the work of Christ and the obedience of His faithful servants like Bermudez.

SEPTEMBER 2017

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SPIRITUAL AND PHYSICAL HEALING THROUGH MEDICAL MISSIONS BY ANALIZ SCHREMMER , CONTRIBUTING WRITER

ACUÑA— Dr. Luis Arturo Davila has two demanding medical jobs, and also finds time to volunteer at his church, lead a Bible study for his patients, and spend two weekends a month doing medical clinics for the impoverished in Acuña, Mexico through Texas Baptists River Ministry.

There was a point in his life when Davila had grown apart from God, and his wife was not a Christian. When his daughter was three months old, she became very sick. It was so dire that his wife decided to call him at work and tell him that she was going to take her out of the hospital so she would die at home. Even though it was not something they usually did, they prayed together over the phone. “I said, ‘God, if it’s Your will for her to die, I put her in Your hands. You know what’s going on with my daughter and what’s going through my wife’s mind. I’ve relied on myself and I’ve been far from You. Let Your will be done,’” Davila recalled. “When I came home, my wife wasn’t there so I went to the neighbor’s house and my baby was eating as though the sickness had never happened. My wife said, ‘As soon as you hung up, the baby was as healthy as though she had never been sick.’ I understood, then, that I needed to turn back to God. He took me down a completely different path from the one I was on. A few years later, my wife dedicated her life to God.”

“We work all morning, sometimes 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. One time we saw as many as 200 patients in one day,” said Davila, who serves with his wife, Nurse Imelda Cruz de Davila. Davila, 50, has worked in the hospital for 26 years and is only two years from retirement, but shows no sign of slowing down. “Medical work is a vocation,” he said. “You need to love what you do. I praise God that I love what I do.”

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Davila said he was able to see how his daughter’s sickness drew him near to God and he is thankful to be a part of God’s plan to do the same for others. People often ask Davila why he volunteers his time doing clinics when he could be resting or increasing his salary, but he said he enjoys it. It is all just a part of serving God.


SPOTLIGHT / 50 YEARS OF RIVER MINISTRY

“Separate from any paycheck we get, we need to remember that our job is to be instruments in the hand of God, taking him by the hand and relying on him to be the Captain. He blesses the work that we do and that nothing that we do for Him is in vain,” said Davila. He has seen patients who suffer from tumors, malnutrition, skin problems and parasites among a variety of other issues. He explained that the clinics are done in conjunction with local churches who often offer other services, such as activities for children, cooking classes and manual labor trainings. More important, churches offer follow-up for people who make decisions to follow Christ, giving them the opportunity to join their congregation. Davila also goes to children's homes to provide medical services.

GOD ALLOWS THINGS LIKE THIS SO THAT PEOPLE CAN BE REACHED BY HIM AND HIS WILL .

“She had it for a long time and I told her she needed surgery because she could die from it. I got her to go to the hospital and get treated. She said she had tried to get help in the past, but was dismissed by other medical care providers.”

Later that day, Davila received a phone call from that woman, who was relieved to be going into surgery. She ended up joining the congregation of a mission called Colonia San Antonio. “God allows things like this so that people can be reached by Him and His will,” Davila said.

“The most important thing is that everything we do, we should do unto God,” he said, adding that he finds strength in seeing how God uses the time he gives. Davila remembers going on a mission trip to Chihuahua and traveling as far as they could by bus, then they walked a long while to reach a group of people in bare feet who wore threadbare clothing. “There was so much malnutrition and the government doesn’t do anything. But this was one of my best experiences because it allowed me to experience more and understand that there is a bigger work outside of my church walls and I need to go be a part of it because the Lord commands us to go.” Davila said that in one medical clinic, he saw a patient with a tumor in her abdomen.

M E D I C A L M I S S I O N S H AV E B E E N A V I TA L A S P E C T O F RIVER MINISTRY THROUGHOUT THE 5 0 Y E A R H I S T O R Y.

SEPTEMBER 2017

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SANIDAD FISICA Y

ESPIRITUAL POR MEDIO DE LAS MISIONES MEDICAS BY A N A L I Z S C H R E M M E R , C O N T R I B U T I N G W R I T E R

ACUÑA—El Dr. Luis Arturo Dávila tiene dos trabajos médicos exigentes, y además encuentra tiempo para hacer trabajo voluntario en su iglesia, guiar un estudio bíblico para sus pacientes y pasar dos fines de semana al mes haciendo clínicas médicas para los pobre en Acuña, México a través del Ministerio del Río de los Bautistas de Texas.

“El trabajo médico es una vocación”, él dice. “Necesitas amar lo que haces. Alabo a Dios porque amo lo que hago.” Hubo un punto en su vida cuando Dávila se alejó de Dios y su esposa no era cristiana. Él dice que cuando su hija tenía tres meses, se enfermó de gravedad. Estuvo tan enferma que su esposa lo llamó al trabajo y le dijo que la sacara del hospital para que muriera en su casa. A pesar de que no era algo que hacían con regularidad, ambos oraron por teléfono. “Yo dije: ‘Dios, si es tu voluntad que ella muera, te la pongo en tus manos. Tú sabes lo que está sucediendo con mi hija y lo que mi esposa está pensando. He dependido de mí mismo y me he alejado de ti. Que se haga tu voluntad.’” “Cuando llegué a mi casa, mi esposa no estaba allí así que fui a la casa del vecino, y mi bebé estaba comiendo como si nunca hubiera estado enferma. Mi esposa dijo: ‘Tan pronto como colgaste, la bebé estuvo tan saludable como si nunca hubiera estado enferma’. Yo entendí, entonces, que necesitaba regresar a Dios. Él me llevó por un camino completamente diferente del que yo estaba. Unos años más tarde, mi esposa dedicó su vida a Dios”.

“Trabajamos toda la mañana, a veces desde las 8 a.m. hasta las 8 p.m. Una vez vimos hasta 200 pacientes en un día,” dijo Dávila, quien sirve con su esposa y enfermera, Imelda Cruz de Dávila.

Dávila dice que él pudo ver cómo la enfermedad de su hijita le acercó a Dios y está agradecido por ser parte del plan de Dios para hacer lo mismo por otras personas.

Dávila, de 50 años de edad, ha trabajado en el hospital durante 26 años y está a dos años de retirarse, pero no muestra indicio de reducir el paso.

Las personas con frecuencia le preguntan a Dávila por qué hace trabajo voluntario haciendo clínicas cuando pudiera estar descansando o ganando más dinero, pero él dice que lo disfruta. Es todo parte de servir a Dios.

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SPOTLIGHT / 50 YEARS OF RIVER MINISTRY

“A parte del salario que recibimos, tengo que recordar que nuestro trabajo es ser instrumentos en las manos de Dios, tomándole de la mano y descansando en que Él sea el Capitán. Él bendice el trabajo que hacemos y nada de lo que hacemos por Él es en vano”, dice Dávila. Él ha examinado pacientes que sufren de tumores, malnutrición, problemas de la piel, y parásitos entre una variedad de condiciones. Él explicó que las clínicas son llevadas a cabo en combinación con iglesia locales que con frecuencia ofrecen otros servicios, como actividades para los niños, clases de cocina y entrenamiento para trabajo manual. Más importante, las iglesias ofrecen el seguimiento inmediato para las personas que hacen decisiones de seguir a Cristo, dándoles la oportunidad de unirse a sus congregaciones. Él también visita los hogares de los niños para proveer servicios médicos.

DIOS PERMITE COSAS COMO ÉSTAS PARA QUE LAS PERSONAS PUEDAN SER ALCANZADAS POR ÉL Y SU VOLUNTAD.

morir. La llevé al hospital y recibió tratamiento. Ella dijo que trató de recibir ayuda en el pasado, pero fue ignorada por otros profesionales médicos.” Más tarde ese día, Dávila recibió una llamada telefónica de la mujer, quien estaba a punto de entrar a cirugía. Al final, ella se unió a la congregación de una misión llamada Colonia San Antonio. “Dios permite cosas como éstas para que las personas puedan ser alcanzadas por Él y Su voluntad,” dijo Dávila.

“Lo más importante es que todo lo que hacemos, lo hacemos para Dios”, él dice, añadiendo que encuentra fortaleza en ver cómo Dios usa el tiempo que él dedica. Dávila recuerda haber ido en un viaje misionero a Chihuahua y viajar tan lejos como pudieron en autobús, entonces caminar un largo trecho para alcanzar a un grupo de personas descalzas y harapientas. “Hay tanta malnutrición y el gobierno no hace nada. Pero, ésta fue una de mis mejores experiencias porque me permitió experimentar más y entender que hay un trabajo mayor afuera de mi iglesia y tengo que ir y ser parte de esto porque el Señor nos manda a ir”. Dávila dice que en una clínica médica él vio a una paciente con un tumor en su abdomen. “Ella lo había tenido durante mucho tiempo y le dije que necesitaba cirugía porque podía

M I S I O N E S M É D I C A S H A S I D O U N A PA RTE DE S U M A I M P O R TA N C I A D E L M I N I S T E R IO DEL RÍO A LO L ARGO DE LOS 50 AÑOS DE HI STORIA .

SEPTEMBER 2017

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FiNdInG An AnSwEr

To ThE CaLl To MiNiStRy B Y T E R RY G O O D R I C H , A S S I S TA N T D I R E C T O R O F M E D I A C O M M U N I C AT I O N S , B AY L O R U N I V E R S I T Y

Richard Baggett and his wife Miwes were on an RV vacation in summer 2016, standing on Deception Pass Bridge in Washington and marveling at the view. Then Baggett’s phone rang. The caller, a supervisor with Christian Resort Ministries International, wondered whether Baggett would be willing to tackle a start-up ministry for an RV park in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, where “snowbirds” from northern states seek warmer climates in winter. The year before, at age 70, Baggett had completed a two-year ministry certificate program at Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary. And with the couple’s 40-plus years of spare-time RV-ing — plus a pleasant year of living in the Valley more than 40 years ago — the opportunity seemed a perfect fit. “I said, ‘We’ll find out what we can online about Gateway RV Park, and then we’ll pray about it.’ In a couple days, we said, ‘We’ll take it,’” said Baggett, now 72, of San Angelo, who had applied for an RV ministry position and been interviewed a year earlier. The Truett ministry certificate program is tailor-made for those who feel called to the ministry but may be challenged by busy schedules and/or tight budgets, say those who oversee the program.

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“While a master’s degree of divinity is the gold standard for ministry education, it is often out of reach for those who follow a calling,” said the Rev. J. David Tate, coordinator of the Certificate of Ministry Program. A two-year Certificate of Ministry program began in 2004, but it wasn’t until 2015 when the self-paced program — with all-new content and structure — went online. Truett in recent months also began offering the 16-month online Certificate of Christian Foundation (CCF) to help laypeople enrich their faith, and many of those go on to complete the ministerial program, he said. For Baggett, “the certification worked out marvelously,” he said. “It gave me the credentials I needed. I didn’t have to go in debt to do it. And I didn’t have to mess with Greek and Hebrew.” He is among more than 120 ministers who have completed the ministry certificate program. Among their ranks are a chaplain who designs pastoral crisis intervention for SWAT teams, pastors of cowboy churches, bivocational pastors and church leaders. One certificate recipient runs a New Mexico program offering veterans experience with horses and ranch life, camaraderie with other vets and an opportunity to heal spiritually as they deal with combat injuries or trauma.


More than 150 students — ages 18 to 75 — are working toward the Certificate of Christian Foundation, Tate said. They are from 13 states, with one student studying in Rwanda, and they represent several races, cultures and backgrounds. Nearly all plan to work toward the Certificate of Ministry as well, Tate said. Those with such training can help meet a need for churches with declining memberships who might struggle to pay a pastor a full-time salary. They also can help fill ministerial niches at truck stops, oil fields and RV parks, said Ira Antoine, director of bivocational ministry for the Texas Baptists. “There is going to be a huge need for bivocational pastors,” he said. “And there are more opportunities for ministries other than the garden-variety ones.” For many students, enrolling in the program is a leap of faith. “In the beginning, I was terrified, not knowing what to expect,” said Terri Davidson, 55, a bookkeeper in Seminole, Texas, who recently completed a class in biblical interpretation in the CCF program. “But after my first chapter, my attitude changed from being scared to having confidence in myself and being ready and excited for the next chapter.” She visits people in hospitals, is involved in a prayer ministry and would love to start a church. “I know I am on the path that God has led me to because I find myself hungry for more of the teaching of God’s word that is being offered to us,” Davidson said. As for Baggett, the program brought him full circle. As an undergraduate student, he had felt that God was calling him to the ministry, but “the Vietnam War and other things precluded that,” he said. He served in the Air Force as a sergeant and after completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he pursued two careers — first in healthcare management, in which he sought to follow Jesus’ example to help the poor and sick, and later in human resources, which he saw as a way to work for fairness. But in semi-retirement, he again felt the ministerial call, this time during a sermon at his San Angelo church. “The preacher said he was always amazed at what age God called people into the ministry. He talked about a dentist who sold his practice and went to Truett. And then he said, ‘We have more pulpits than we have preachers.’ “I wondered, ‘Is it too late? Do I still have something to offer? And if I do, how in the world do I go about it?’” He found the answer at Truett, and today, he lives in Raymondville, in the Rio Grande Valley, for half the year. Much of his work is supporting those dealing with health issues, and he also helps those working through grief over the loss of loved ones and close friends. “Being a chaplain is called ‘a ministry of presence,’” he said. “You’re there as much as you can – potluck, bingo, sitting and talking and mingling so they get to know you as a person, an RV-er instead of just as a chaplain.” In his new role, he feels a kinship with a biblical character.

GEORGE W. TRUETT SEMINARY AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY FOUNDED : LOCATION :

1991 Waco, Texas

[ 362 ] STUDENTS

[ 1,358 ]

GRADUATES SERVING IN

41 STATES 18 COUNTRIES

[ 18:1 ]

STUDENT/FACULTY RATIO NAMED FOR BAPTIST PREACHER AND STATESMAN, GEORGE WASHINGTON TRUETT

“Jonah’s story is my story,” Baggett said. “Like Jonah, the first time God called, I ran the other way. But God called again — and I answered the second time, at age 68." SEPTEMBER 2017

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WHO WE ARE & WHAT WE DO For more than 130 years, the Baptist General Convention of Texas (Texas Baptists) has helped churches fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. Today, we are more than 5,300 churches working together in harmonious cooperation to share the Gospel and love others. The ministry of the Convention is organized into teams that inform and inspire churches through events, resources, consultations and more.

GREAT COMMISSION TEAM Evangelism Discipleship Music & Worship

MISSIONS TEAM

Multi-housing & House Congregations Church Starting Urban Missions River Ministry & Mexico Missions MAP BOUNCE

CHRISTIAN LIFE COMMISSION Ethics & Justice Public Policy Community Care Hunger Offering

Through gifts to the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, you and your church enable missions and ministry across the state and around the world. Because you give, love is shown, the Gospel is shared and lives are transformed. Learn more about affiliation at texasbaptists.org/affiliate, and learn more about the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program at texasbaptists.org/cp.

COLLEGIATE MINISTRY TEAM Baptist Student Ministries Church College Ministry Go Now Missions

CONNECTIONS TEAM

Counseling Services Area Representatives Minister Connection Interim Services Camps

Bivocational Pastors Western Heritage Center for Ministerial Excellence

CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT TEAM African American Ministries Hispanic Ministries Hispanic Education Initiative Intercultural Ministries Project: Start Associations

In addition, we proudly partner with 28 education, advocacy and human care institutions around Texas.


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Texas Baptists Life | 50 Years of River Ministry  

Texas Baptists Life | 50 Years of River Ministry  

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