Evangelism, unity undergird Nat'l Hispanic fellowship

DALLAS (BP) -- The National Hispanic Baptist Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention gathered for their 29th annual meeting with the theme "Reviving an Evangelistic Vision."

Mike Gonzales, director of Hispanic ministries for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, shared from 1 Corinthians 15 and cited statistics about the lostness of America, urging pastors and leaders to be proactive in sharing the Gospel.
Photo by Van Payne
The event, held in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting in Dallas, drew approximately 50 Hispanic believers from around the nation. During the four-hour gathering at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, the group reelected officers, worshiped, heard from three keynote speakers and honored several pastors.

Featured speakers, who focused on evangelism and working together to reach the nations, were Jesse Rincones, executive director at Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas; Mike Gonzales, director of Hispanic ministries for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention; and Oliver Martinez, pastor of Getsemani Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.

Rincones drew from Acts 13:47 to remind attendees that God has called them and their churches to carry the Gospel throughout the world.

"God has placed us -- the church -- as the light to nations," Rincones said, "not associations or conventions, so we must stop using them as an excuse for our lack of evangelism."

He added that God has provided His Spirit to the church as a guide, and "we must allow the Spirit to work in us ... to lift us from our fears and doubts and excuses."

Gonzales shared from 1 Corinthians 15 and cited statistics about the lostness of America, urging pastors and leaders to be proactive in sharing the Gospel.

Martinez encouraged attendees to break out of their traditions and comfort to reach the unchurched.

"We have conformed to our traditions and routines but we are called to be spiritual ambassadors," he said.

Oliver Martinez, pastor of Getsemani Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, encouraged attendees to break out of their traditions and comfort to reach the unchurched.
Photo by Van Payne
As such, "we are to be all things to all people to win them for Christ but always behave in a way that is dignified of the Gospel."

More than half of those attending made renewed commitments to work together for evangelism in a time of prayer led by Augusto Valverde, the fellowship's president.

In the short business session, the fellowship reelected Valverde, Walter Loyola of California, Inocencio Gomez of Kansas and Maria C. Gonzales of Florida as president, first vice president, second vice president and secretary, respectively.

Eloy Rodriguez, Hispanic pastor at Idlewild Baptist Church in Florida, along with six missionaries from his church shared with the pastors and leaders about their Crossover experience. A total of 168 people made professions of faith.

Rodriguez exhorted pastors to "train missionaries and go out to the people who don't know the Gospel."

The group also heard from special guest Richard Sanchez, a church planter from Nicaragua who has helped start 14 mission churches in Nicaragua and Honduras.

Sanchez has severe limits to his mobility yet, he said, he has been able to go where God has called him and do what God has told him.

"I wanted to be a soldier in the army but God called me to a soldier in His army."

Valverde closed the gathering, saying "we have been called to unite for evangelism."

Keila Diaz is a writer and digital communication assistant for the Florida Baptist Convention.
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