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Church’s leader of Mexico outreach tackled her resentment of Hispanic

MIDLAND, Texas (BP)–Deborah Fikes considers herself the least likely person to be chairing the Mexico missions committee at First Baptist Church, Midland, Texas.
A self-described “little housewife from Midland,” she never would have predicted that she would end up guiding and promoting the west-Texas church’s extensive ministry along the border.
“I’m Mexico missions chairman by default,” she explained. “God seems to be raising up unlikely people.”
When first approached about taking on the lay leadership role for the ministry that handles hundreds of thousands of mission dollars every year, she replied, “But I do not balance a checkbook; I never have in my life.”
Others assured her they would handle the finances if she would give the committee leadership. That she has done with great enthusiasm. “She’s been a tremendous example and inspiration to a lot of laypeople with her enthusiasm and the way she goes about her ministry,” said Dale Pond, minister of missions at First Baptist. There are people involved in Mexico missions, who would not have been otherwise, because of her enthusiasm and her getting the word out. She’s a great advocate for missions in our church.”
But just three years ago, Fikes didn’t have the burden for reaching Mexicans with the gospel that she has today. In fact, she admits, she was outright prejudiced in the past.
As a schoolteacher before her own children were born, she resented the Hispanics who required extra time in her classroom because of their language barrier, she recalled.
Today, however, the 41-year-old mother of two is a strident advocate for cross-cultural missions. She and her family have personally participated in numerous mission projects in Mexico; she has become an advocate for a Spanish-language congregation in Midland; and she is the foremost promoter of First Baptist’s Mexico missions endeavors.
Her passion for Mexico missions was sparked three years ago by Elvia, a Latino woman who did housekeeping for her. Elvia’s father was dying of cancer. Though he lived in Mexico, he had collapsed while visiting in Midland and been taken to a local hospital.
“I was burdened for his soul,” Fikes explained. “My husband encouraged me to call a Hispanic pastor to minister to him.”
She did, and then she accompanied pastor to the man’s hospital room where together they told the man about God’s love.
“I can’t get you off my mind,” she told the housekeeper’s father.
As the Spanish-speaking pastor shared the plan of salvation, the man began to sob. “I have been wanting to make my peace with God,” he said. He gave his life to Christ that day, starting a chain of conversions that now has extended to 20 or more family members in west Texas and Mexico.
That fulfills a promise Fikes and the pastor made to Elvia’s father, who died soon after his conversion. “Please tell all my family about this good news,” he implored them.
“It has just been the power of God,” Fikes explained. “It took just a little bit of obedience and then some prayer.”

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  • Mark Wingfield