NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Robert Amaya, one of the stars of the movie “Courageous,” was among the featured speakers at “SBC Avanze Hispano” (SBC Hispanic Advance) June 18, attended by 200 Hispanic pastors and leaders from 20 states and several countries prior to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in New Orleans.
Amaya, worship and drama leader at Miami’s University Baptist Church who played the role of “Snake King” in Courageous, led one of the conferences in the half-day gathering sponsored by several Southern Baptist entities, including LifeWay Christian Resources, North American Mission Board, International Mission Board and GuideStone Christian Resources.
Luis Lopez, director of LifeWay Español, voiced enthusiasm “to see how God is working in our people to use a person like Roberto Amaya to serve as a positive role model for our children, youth, and adults.”
The film star did not take long to get noticed.
A lady accompanied by her adult son walked up to Amaya and teared up while hugging him in the hallway while he was on his way to the conference at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
Marlene Mayer, a member of Iglesia Bautista Buenas Nuevas in Slidell, La., told Amaya the movie Courageous changed her son Antonio’s life. “He has changed so much that he is with me here today,” she told the actor.
Antonio Mayer confirmed what his mother said.
“The message of the movie was so powerful that it changed my life,” Antonio told Amaya. “It led me to come closer to God and become a better father and husband.”
Amaya posed for pictures with participants after leading a conference on Impacting the Culture through Christian Witness. Amaya said in the conference that Christians need to be real in their culture and drop all masks of sin.
“Don’t let this day pass,” Amaya challenged, “without turning your back to sin. Live the truth.”
Patrick Regalado, consultant with LifeWay Español, led a conference on the new online materials available in Spanish for churches and leaders, with more information available at www.lifeway.com/espanol.
Joshua del Risco, director of Hispanic evangelism for the North American Mission Board, led a conference on Effective Evangelization and Growth. Drawing from the book of Acts, Del Risco listed “effective ways to deal with seven major barriers to successful evangelism.”
The International Mission Board was represented by Jason Carlisle, IMB director of Hispanic mobilization who led a conference on Becoming a Church Without Frontiers.
“This is the Hispanic century,” Carlisle said. “This does not mean that Hispanics will be on the receiving end of ministry but instead Hispanics will be the instruments used by God to reach the unreached in a miraculous and wonderful way.
“More than 100 Hispanic IMB missionaries are making a difference in the world today,” Carlisle noted. “Hispanics are very effective missionaries in the Muslim countries, in India, in Southeast Asia due to the similarities in cultures and even in the color of the skin.”
Carlisle said new IMB resources in Spanish are available online at http://hispanos.imb.org.
Guidestone representative Miguel Perez answered participants’ questions regarding retirement or investments posed to him in both Spanish and English. Printed and promotional materials in Spanish from Guidestone were distributed.
Juan Perez, bivocational pastor of Iglesia Bautista Jesucristo Rey de Reyes in Miramar, Fla., said he is thankful he was able to attend the conference and the SBC in New Orleans. And he is grateful God gave him an opportunity that wouldn’t overburden his church.
“I worked extra hours on a roof job just to get the funding to come,” Perez said. “It was worth it.”
David Raul Lema Jr. is a Baptist Press correspondent in Miami.