More than 800 Hispanic pastors and lay people gathered, Sept. 13-14, at Oklahoma City, Rivers of Living Water for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) Hispanic State Evangelism Conference.
Participants took part in powerful worship, preaching and celebrated important ministry accomplishments by the Hispanic fellowships and churches throughout the state.
During the event, Daniel Caceres, BGCO church planting strategist, and Baptist Messenger editor Brian Hobbs announced the publication of the first fully-Spanish edition of the Messenger. The publication, called El Mensajero Bautista, contains unique articles and features for the Spanish-speaking community in Oklahoma, and will be published and distributed for free on a quarterly basis.
The great challenge of the Church: To be and to make disciples was the emphasis of the Hispanic State Evangelism Conference, based on Acts 6:7, “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly.”
Keynote speaker, Julio Ruiz, pastor from Columbia, Va., said, “The word ‘disciple’ comes from the Greek verb ‘akolouthein,’ which in a natural form means ‘to follow.’ The word was used for the soldier who followed the orders of his superior with respect.”
Ruiz said discipleship is not optional, but it is a divine mandate and the best means to evangelize.
Also speaking was BGCO Evangelism Group Leader Tim Gentry. “It was a gorgeous September evening for many reasons,” Genry said. “The host church, Rios de Agua Viva proudly showing off its new facility donated from Oklahoma City, Meridian Avenue, the pleasant weather that greeted the hundreds of Hispanics from 35 congregations gathered under a tent fellowshipping prior to the service and the excitement of the people worshipping God, along with the praise band, Destino.”
“The top 10 Hispanic churches in baptisms were recognized, representing 111 baptisms,” added Gentry.
“God is truly blessing Oklahoma, and the church plants we have begun over the years are bearing much fruit. I am encouraged by the decisions for Christ, the discipleship going on and the many baptisms,” added Caceres.
Ramón Osorio, National Church Mobilizer with the North American Mission Board, was one of the main speakers at the conference.
“When the Oklahoma state conference on evangelism was over, I left with two strong emotions,” Osorio said. “First, the joy and excitement of having experienced firsthand what our amazing God is doing in the Hispanic Churches of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Oklahoma. Second, the urgency of finding a way to motivate these churches, leaders and members to bring that biblically-based, life-changing revival and conviction to less reached areas in the United States.
“The point is that the U.S. is among the most populated nation in the world, with more than 316 million people, and growing (at the rate of) one person every eight seconds, and one immigrant entering America every 44 seconds. Of these people, there are more than 259 million who do not have a personal relationship with Christ (81 percent).
“The U.S. Census Clock tells us a person dies every 12 seconds, and we can see that most of them step into eternity without Salvation. The numbers for the 52.9 million Hispanics in the U.S. are not any better. While 40 percent of them attended church this past Sunday, and 80 percent of them possess a Bible, only 8 percent of them read it and try to live according to it.
“The vast majority of these people live in cities outside the Bible belt, where our SBC presence is weak at best. The scope of the Great Commission is “to the end of the Earth,” but there are cities with one SBC church per every 115,000 inhabitants. Unless we step up and intentionally start planting Bible-believing, multiplying churches, more and more people will continue living and dying, lacking hope and eternal life.
“It is time for us to find ways to bring what the Lord Jesus is doing in Oklahoma to places like Denver, Utah, Atlanta, New York and Boston. In the end, we need to remember Christ left the words of Matt. 28:18-20 to all his disciples. He did so because He has all authority. Therefore, His words are a mandate, not a suggestion.
“This text reminds us that God wants people from every nation (people group) and, God brought them to the U.S. Jesus gave us the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of the mission (baptizing them and teaching them), and knowing that apart from Him, we cannot do anything, He promised to be with us every day. That means we count on His presence, power and provision: everything we need to change the spiritual landscape of America. Everything we need to penetrate the kingdom of darkness with the Light of the Gospel.”
Frank Coy, retired International Mission Board missionary and an Oklahoma City, Village leader, who received a recognition for his faithful 65 years of ministry from The Hispanic Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma, said, “I am deeply grateful to God for the Hispanic evangelism conference and for its great success. The lectures were very well prepared, and it was a challenging reminder for us to make disciples.”
Mario Zamarron, Oklahoma City, Exchange Avenue Hispanic pastor, said, “This was one of the best conferences we have had in many years. The organization and program were excellent. We enjoyed fellowship and delicious food, as well as inspirational services. The trainings provided were excellent and available for all family members, adult, children and youth.”
“We praise God for the people’s response from all over the state, and pray that the teachings about discipleship will be applied and used back in our churches,” said Jesus Pacheco, BGCO ethnic evangelism strategist.
“The top 10 churches in baptizing people were graduates or students in the Contextualized Leadership Development program and are making a huge impact for the Kingdom,” added Pacheco.
For information on BGCO ministry to Hispanics or resources, visit www.my316.com or www.bgco.org.