One of the great joys of my ministry is to represent Oklahoma Baptists on mission fields around the world. This past week, I have been in the State of Guerrero, Mexico, where the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) has had a partnership for the last seven years. This is a part of Mexico that is as dark as many places you will find in East Asia, and is also a place where the people are religious, but lost. In many cases, people who are religious are harder to reach than people who have never heard of Jesus.
One of the focus cities for Baptists in Mexico is Acapulco. There are currently only 14 Baptist churches in this city of almost 1 million people. Our brothers there have set a goal of 15 new churches by 2015, and they are well on the way of accomplishing this goal. Oklahoma Baptists have come alongside them and already have 18 mission sites established.
During this trip, I visited several of these new mission sites, and had the privilege of preaching a three-day evangelism event in one of them. The El Coral church is strategically located and, for this reason, Oklahoma Baptists purchased property and helped remodel this house into a church building. This church is located across the street from an elementary school with 2,200 students. Just two blocks away is a junior high school with 1,000 students. Two blocks in another direction is the largest prison in the State of Guerrero, with a population of 2,800. Oklahoma Baptists are part of an ongoing ministry inside this prison.
It was also my privilege to preach the Gospel in both the prison and the El Coral church. Many came to Christ, and on Sunday, we had the joy of seeing five new converts baptized, with several others awaiting counseling and baptism. It was a joyful time of seeing the Kingdom of God advance in this hard soil.
Key to the church planting advance in Acapulco and the State of Guerrero is the Baptist Theological Seminary of del Sur. This school, which was begun in 1956, is making a large impact for Christ. The church planters for the missions in Acapulco have, for the most part, been trained at this seminary. The same is true across the State of Guerrero.
Oklahoma Baptists have had a major role in seeing the seminary make great strides in its ability to serve more students. Across these years, Oklahomans have provided funding and volunteers who have helped build married student housing and a men’s dorm, as well as the remodeling of a kitchen. I wish all of you could see these wonderful facilities.
This year, the BGCO was able to help the seminary begin the Virtual Seminary, which is online theological education. The seminary now has students taking classes from Argentina, Peru, America and several places in Mexico. I was amazed at the sophistication of the presentation that utilized video, animation and creative interaction. The two young men who designed the program have done an outstanding job. Now, theological training is available to many who cannot come to the seminary.
Many times, I visit places where our Oklahoma churches and volunteers are at work, and wish I could bring every one of you with me. I overflow with joy when I see souls saved and converts baptized, as well as when I see properties and facilities that Baptists of Oklahoma have provided through their giving. Each time, I give thanks to God for the privilege of serving and representing such generous people. Because of you, the darkness is being pushed back and the Kingdom of Light is making dramatic progress in the State of Guerrero, Mexico. To Him be praise now and forever more.