Crystal is working on the story now, but I know some readers are curious who has been elected president of the Hispanic Baptist Convention. The election had several turns, and five candidates were nominated. In the end, Victor Rodriguez, pastor of South San Filadelfia Baptist Church in San Antonio, was elected president. We’ll post details about all the officers and other convencion business as quickly as we can write it.
Archive for June, 2009
This morning I was editing through a promotional piece and came across this quote from Joe Perez, vice president for pastoral services at the Valley Health System. Want to know what chaplaincy is all about? Joe explains it in one quote. They walk the journey with the hurting, with those in need as Christ does.
“God will go anywhere to find you or me because He loves us,” Perez said. “If Jesus went to the cross for us, He will go anywhere to be with us. He needs people that will go anywhere to be with His people, and that’s what chaplains are called to do.”
Where will you walk with the hurting today?
The Baptist General Convention of Texas launched an effort to put free General Equivalency Diploma programs in its affiliated churches June 28.
The move is the latest from the BGCT’s Hispanic Education Initiative, which seeks to help Hispanic students attain their educational goals. In addition to the GED effort, the convention is partnering with the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas to designate volunteers who will serve as Hispanic Academic Directors to advise both students and adult-learners in 1,000 Hispanic congregations.
“Our commitment is to see people get their degrees or their GEDs and move on to college,” said Gus Reyes, the Hispanic Education Initiative director.
The initiative aims to equip Texas Baptist churches with the resources needed to help expand educational opportunities for minority students and promote adult education through a free, online GED program.
The initiative’s underlying goal is to decrease the number of high school dropouts across the state. But Reyes said it will be “a tall mountain to climb.”
“There are a lot of facets to this initiative,” he said. “We want to get them into school, keep them there, help them graduate … and get them into college. We also want to reclaim those who have already dropped out.”
The BGCT is working to find scholarships and resources for minorities seeking to further their education.
“We saw that it was very hard for a [person] to take the next step in their educational career,” said Suzii Paynter, director of BGCT Christian Life Commission and member of the initiative’s education advisory committee. “Two years ago, the state of Texas committed only $7 million to adult education in Texas.”
In April, Paynter — along with members of the BGCT Hispanic Education Advisory Committee and other leaders — took these educational concerns to the Texas legislature.
The legislature developed a statewide literacy council and approved the allocation of $25 million to enhance literacy programs. Additionally, the state will give $25 million to accepted agencies for demonstration of model program work.
Jesse Rincones — Hispanic education advisory committee member, second vice president of the Hispanic Baptist Convention and pastor of Alliance Church in Lubbock — said the initiative is an act of spiritual obedience.
“Jesus invited us to worship him with all of our hearts, souls and our minds,” he said. “We can be passionate about our faith and our worship, but when we expand the minds of our children and their parents, it allows them to … be a functioning and pivotal part of the body of Christ in order to impact the community.”
Rincones believes the initiative with have long-term effects on community leadership.
“Hispanic education attendance rates in seminaries are low,” he said. “We have [about] 1,500 Hispanic churches, and somewhere between 2 and 3 percent of those have leaders with advanced degrees. This largely affects our congregations and Hispanic communities.”
Reyes said the initiative is “aggressively seeking to enlist a Hispanic academic director for each of the 42 Hispanic fellowships in Texas” so it can provide churches with as much training as possible.
Roughly 20 percent of cooperating BGCT Baptist churches are Hispanic, but BGCT Executive Director Randel Everett said the initiative is not limited to serving Hispanic congregations.
Free programs can be available at cooperating Baptist churches for any person, regardless of church membership. Everett said the Texas Hispanic Education Initiative is a glimpse of what the BGCT is all about.
“Education … has always been at the heart of who we are,” he said. “We want to speak for the marginalized … and provide reachable education for our community.”
For more information about the free GED programs or academic directors, call 888-244-9400.
Story by Crystal Donahue
The Youth Evangelism Conference is going to be streamed live tonight and tomorrow. Check it out by clicking here.
Above all, Texas Baptists seek to reach people for Christ, reaching out to those around them who have yet to embrace the hope of Christ.
When we discover an unreached group, we often attempt to start a church there. The BGCT puts a lot of its resources into church starting, and many people come to know Christ as a result of those efforts.
If you’re curious about what’s going on in new churches, check out the BGCT’s new church starting blog by clicking here. All the stories they’ve posted so far are great, but I really like the picture above that comes from Austin City Life Church. It is the congregation’s first baptism. It’s great to see their excitement as God moves around and through them.
Yesterday, Lauren and I had the opportunity to spend some time with some of the leaders of Broken Chains Freedom Church in Wichita Falls, a congregation that serves a wide variety of people, including bikers.
The church has biker paraphernalia throughout its facility, including a saddle bag that hangs on the back wall and serves as an offering plate. The pulpit is made of the front wheel and forks of a motorcycle.
In the first few months since the congregation’s April launch, it is seeing roughly 70 people each night and attendance has been growing in recent weeks. Last Friday night, they had about 95 and a couple people made professions of faith.
The church reaches out into biker bars and by connecting to biker rallies. During a recent rally, the church left a pile of New Testaments like the one in the picture above. Roughly 150 New Testaments were taken. The church is spreading the Hope of Christ, and people’s lives are being changed.
In an article in the Wichita Falls newspaper, I love what Pastor Roy Boswell says about the church. May his words describe every congregation.
“It’s more about reaching the unchurched and lost,” he said. “We don’t care what you drive, how you dress, where you work, if your hair is a different color or how many tattoos you have. All we care about is where your heart is and where you’re going to spend eternity.”
Attending SBC this year has been a good experience. I’ve been able to meet up with some fellow Texas Baptists and some friends from high school and college. It seems that, similar to those attending the BGCT Annual Meeting, people come to SBC to meet with friends and colleagues as well as squeeze in a little business. This is great as we all still need that face-to-face time to continue to really know people and grow along with them.
One pleasant sight is the larger number of younger pastors attending SBC this year. Focusing on the younger pastors has been a priority of the SBC the past year or so and it seems to be paying off. There was a great pastors’ conference on Sunday and a young leaders luncheon on Monday where about 400 attended.
The younger attendees have brought some great aspects to the Convention floor like encouraging SBC churches, institutions and churches to work with other like-minded Christians in reaching the world for Christ and thankfully that was overwhelmingly welcomed. The floor also presented motions ranging from blessing, not cursing the nation of Israel; creating a sanctity of life year; appointing a task force to examine CP giving and even clarifying language in the SBC to distinguish between the consumption of alcohol and being drunk.
More information on the SBC happenings can be found on their website sbc.net.
The Valley Project, a group of 12 college students, is not going to Africa or another far-off country to share the gospel; they are bringing the love of Christ to their community. So many people see the need outside of the United States but are blind to the needs around them. The Valley Project meets these needs by working Vacation Bible Schools, painting houses, volunteering in orphanages, leading worship at local churches and this weekend they held a camp for the youth on South Padre Island. Most of the youth that attended the camp had never been to something like this before because camps were too far away and because of money issues.
It was exciting to see college students leading the worship, praying with the youth, planning the events and building relationships with the people in their community. These students could have gone on vacation or stayed home with their family, but they chose to give three weeks of their time to God. In about a week, the praise band and two of the Valley Project members are going to Venezuela to work and minister. They are serving as a part of Texas Hope 2010, and I ask that you keep them in your prayers.
Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.
Acts 1:8 And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
The group decided to start in their Jerusalem – the Rio Grande Valley.
For those who may be so inclined, there are a couple relatively new ways to connect to Texas Hope 2010 — Facebook and Twitter. While some of the information we share in those places is the same as what we share here, some of it is different. Some information is shared there and not here, and the opposite is true as well.
So check them out. They provide interesting ways to connect with other Texas Baptists who care about reaching the state just like you do. If nothing else, you can see my extremely cool Capt. Kirk facebook icon. I know a lot of people, including myself, have really come to enjoy Facebook as a networking tool. If you’re not on it, check it out. While I’ve found Twitter a bit more daunting, it’s been really interesting to see people interact there as well.
Join the Texas Hope 2010 Facebook cause by clicking here.
Follow Texas Hope 2010 on Twitter by clicking here.
Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, ‘It is written,“My house shall be a house of prayer”; but you have made it a den of robbers.’ Luke 19:45-46
In order for us to be useful to God, we must be cleansed. We are saved to be His instruments of righteousness and not to be tools of wickedness.
God provides for us the avenues to purity. He is aware of our predicament and our temptations so He did not leave us without recourse. Repentance scrubs the temple clean.
What have you allowed to pollute the temple of your life? It is to be God’s dwelling place. But is it unfit because you have allowed it to become a den for that which robs you of holiness?
Repent and be cleansed. Let God restore the temple to be His House of Prayer; His House of Worship; His House of Service; His House of Love.