Evangelism, unity undergird Nat'l Hispanic fellowship
EDITOR'S NOTE: The second graph was updated June 19 to reflect the latest count of those who attended the event.
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."
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.
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."