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5 Hispanic leaders honored for planting new churches

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Five men who have devoted their ministries to planting Hispanic Southern Baptist churches in the United States were honored during the Seventh Annual Hispanic Church Planting Celebration and Leadership Convocation in Indianapolis.

More than 275 Hispanic church planters, pastors and leaders from 25-plus states attended the North American Mission Board-sponsored event June 14 at Northside Baptist Church.

Moises Rodriguez, newly elected first vice president of the National Hispanic Fellowship of Southern Baptist Churches and pastor of Primera Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, said, “[I]t was high time we recognized Hispanic national leaders on a national scale. The men being honored today are people who have given their lives to the Southern Baptist Convention.”

The honorees were:

— Daniel Sanchez, director of the Scarborough Center for Church Planting and Church Growth and professor of missions since 1983 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. Sanchez has served as a pastor and missionary in Panama and a staff member at the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) and Baptist Convention of New York. He is a graduate of Howard Payne University in Texas, SWBTS (M.Div.), Fuller Seminary in California (D.Min.) and Oxford University in England (Ph.D.) and author of several books in English and Spanish.

SWBTS President Paige Patterson was on hand to honor Sanchez. Noting that half of Texas is Spanish-speaking, Patterson said it is his goal one day that at least half of Southwestern’s faculty will be Spanish-speaking. Patterson quipped that upon his arrival at SWBTS he found that Sanchez was involved in almost every task related to the president’s work. Patterson said Sanchez represents “love and unselfishness, genuine service to the Lord’s Kingdom. Kingdom is in all that is Dr. Sanchez.” Patterson concluded by commending to the audience Sanchez’ latest book, “The Gospel in the Rosary.”

— Roberto Gama, who retired this year from NAMB’s staff and has served is such capacities as a pastor and staff member with LifeWay Christian Resources. He currently is pastor of the Roswell Street Hispanic Church in metro Atlanta. Gama has been a leader in the translation of key materials and development of Spanish-language curriculum and aids to Christian growth. A native of Colombia, he is a graduate of Wheaton (Ill.) College and SWBTS (M.Div. and Ph.D.)

— Eliseo Aldape, who has served as a pastor, Sunday School consultant for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, director of church extension for the Colorado Baptist General Convention and national missionary with NAMB, from which he retired this year. Aldape recently was elected to the position of director of missions and ministry for the Baptist State Convention of Hawaii.
A native of Crystal City, Texas, he is a graduate of University of Corpus Christi and SWBTS (M.Div. and MARE).

— Tom Eason, who has spent nearly 33 years as a church planter and mentor to many new leaders in New Mexico and, previously, Puerto Rico.

— William Tua, who currently serves as a national missionary for the Baptist Convention of Puerto Rico and a former HMB/NAMB staff member.

Jesse Miranda, executive director of the National Association of Evangelical Ministers in California, was the event’s featured speaker.

Miranda noted that “it is time that the Hispanic people have leaders and not just followers. We do not want to be a mass but a people ordered and well-led. We must no longer think in terms of success nor of survival but of significance….

“Plant churches,” he exhorted the audience, “but always have the end in mind” of extending the Kingdom of God.

    About the Author

  • David R. Lema Jr.