Hispanics Bringing Zeal and Enthusiasm to Evangelism at the Southern Baptist Convention | Religion

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Large numbers of Hispanics arriving in the Bible Belt in search of jobs and a better life embrace evangelical Christianity with a zeal that triggers a spiritual awakening.

The result was an infusion of excitement and an explosion of new Hispanic congregations with ties to the Southern Baptist Convention.

Julio Arriola, who heads Hispanic Relations for the SBC, said shared values ​​regarding family, hard work, and an openness to discuss matters of faith have made the growing immigrant population and the SBC the perfect matches.

“America is blessed with the growth of the Latin American population,” said Arriola. “We are more open to evangelical conversations than other groups and more ready to respond positively to the call to become believers and disciples of Jesus. “

Southern Baptists have reached out to Hispanics and other ethnic groups through high-demand ministries, including language courses that help them master English as quickly as possible.

Donna Milner, who is part of the Georgia Baptist Literacy Missions leadership team, sees the hand of God in immigration patterns that bring people to states like hers where believers are ready to help them out. to settle in, to learn the customs and to meet the love of Jesus.

“It shows the great efforts that God will make to give a person the opportunity to know Jesus, moving people from country to country so that they can hear the good news,” Milner said. “It’s all part of God’s great plan that gives every person the chance to believe in Jesus.

Hispanics make up nearly 20% of the total United States population and are by far the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. The US Census Bureau estimates that the Hispanic population will increase by 30% to reach 74 million by 2030.

In an attempt to keep pace with the growing population, the Southern Baptist Convention, with some 3,500 Hispanic churches, is working to establish new congregations. Georgia, home to 1.1 million immigrants, has planted more than 150 new Hispanic churches affiliated with the SBC in the past decade.

Levi Skipper, who heads the church strengthening ministry of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, said the punch Hispanic church leaders bring to the state was on full display Saturday in Savannah at a regional church building workshop .

“Their energy is off the charts,” he said of the 100 Hispanics who gathered at Savannah’s Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana for the workshop. “I was in a church filled with people with an absolute passion to reach out to the world for Christ.”

Georgia Baptist Literacy Missions, which teaches English as a Second Language, has been key to the Southern Baptist Convention’s efforts to reach Hispanics with the gospel.

In this ministry, immigrants not only learn to speak, read, and write English, but they also forge trusting relationships with enthusiastic believers, often from their home countries, who enthusiastically speak to them about their faith in Christ. .

Jhonny Rodriguez, pastor of a church plant in Vienna, uses English classes as a means of reaching the local immigrant population.

“You have sent missionaries to our country so that we may know Christ,” Rodriguez said. “Now we are coming to your country as missionaries so that others who come here from our countries will also know Christ.”

Rodriguez, who grew up in the Dominican Republic, teaches English as a second language to attract immigrants to his church in Vienna. He sees them come to faith in Christ and be blessed, as their language skills improve, with better jobs and a higher standard of living. Milner said Christian leaders in Latin America are careful to teach others to share their faith.

“We need young people who will come into our ministries and serve alongside us to learn the inner workings of ministry,” she said. “When these young people first enter ministries, due to their age and inexperience in life, they may not be able to be effective teachers right away. But by helping a teacher, seeing the teacher model good teaching practices over and over again, they learn and practice what it takes to be an effective teacher.

Using this model, the Georgia Baptist Literacy Missions Ministries group was able to ensure that they had enough teachers to replace those who cycle.

“Nothing is more awe-inspiring or awe-inspiring than seeing a person accept the Lord,” she said. “And many people through the literacy mission ministries have been introduced to Christ and come to know him. There are different who, after accepting Christ themselves, have shared the Gospel with their families here and in their homelands and countless numbers have come to Christ.

“To see a young family realize by studying the Bible that they cannot do enough to earn God’s salvation, but that they must accept their gift of love by faith by trusting Him for their salvation is so rewarding. Then seeing them pass this teaching on to their children makes you sing with joy.

Founded in Washington, DC in 1822 by legendary Baptist leader Luther Rice, The Christian Index is the nation’s oldest continuously published religious newspaper.


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