Guerrero, one of the 31 states of Mexico, is home to some of the most scenic places on Earth. The beaches of Acapulco have attracted millions of tourists, for example, for decades. However, there is something more beautiful to behold than white beaches and the blue sea. God is at work in Guerrero.
More than seven years ago, in a vision meeting of Baptist convention leaders in the state, Hilario Rojas, then a professor at the Seminario Teologico Bautista del Sur in Guerrero, issued a challenge to start new churches. God has since blessed the Convention with 32 new churches, including 17 planted with the assistance of Oklahoma partner churches through a “15 By 15” emphasis launched on Jan. 22, 2011.
Anthony L. Jordan, executive director-treasurer for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO), traveled to Mexico in April to connect with convention leaders, participate in ministry, and witness firsthand the move of God. The BGCO has been an official mission partner with Guerrero since 2006.
“One of the great joys of my ministry is to represent Oklahoma Baptists on mission fields around the world,” said Jordan. “This is a part of Mexico that is as dark as any place you will find. 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.”
Oklahoma Baptists’ dollars were invested in several strategic ministry areas, such as the development of new mission sites.
“I had the privilege of preaching in a three-day evangelism event at (the) El Coral church in Acapulco. I saw with my own eyes the property Oklahoma Baptists helped purchased and remodel into a church building,” Jordan said.
The site is located directly across the street from a large elementary school with more than 2,000 students, as well as two blocks from a major junior high school.
“This ministry site is an especially strategic location to reach the community, which has great physical and spiritual needs,” Jordan said.
On April 13, Jordan preached a sermon at Cereso de Acapulco, the largest prison in the state of Guerrero, a 2,800 person facility known for housing hardened criminals.
“It was my privilege to witness the ongoing Baptist ministry in the prison, and to preach the Gospel,” added Jordan. Preaching out of 1 Timothy, he used the example of the Apostle Paul.
“Each of us has stories. God changed a sinner named Saul into Paul, one of the heroes of the Christian faith. No matter your past, God can give you grace to repent, and Jesus Christ can change the story of your life,” he said.
Jordan also met with key leaders at the Baptist Theological Seminary of del Sur, including director Omar Bustos.
“Omar and his wife, Hortencia, are pioneers for the Gospel,” said Jordan. “This seminary, 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.”
Oklahoma Baptists provide funds for the volunteers who have helped build student housing. The BGCO also invested dollars to help the seminary begin cutting-edge teaching tools with a “Virtual Seminary,” offering online theological education to students throughout Mexico and Latin America.
Jordan also connected with other key leaders in Guerrero, such as Jim Blackwell, a retired professor at the seminary. Blackwell, an American who moved to Mexico in 1989, sees God’s continued hand at work in the state.
“It was a blessing to spend time with our very special friend, Dr. Jordan,” said Blackwell. “We have a lot to do, together. I truly believe the seminary, Guerrero and Acapulco are one of God’s beachheads for reaching Latin America.”
Since forming the partnership, Oklahoma Baptists have invested more than $100,000 in ministry in Guerrero, Mexico, according to Jordan. “There are facilities, church plants, baptisms, ministry personnel, programs and best of all, new Christians to show for it,” he said.
Oklahoma churches interested in participating in the partnership with Guerrero should contact Sam Porter, BGCO partnership and volunteer missions specialist, 3800 N. May Ave., Oklahoma City 73112; phone 405/942-3800, email firstname.lastname@example.org.