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Cinder-block house on a gravel road was starting point for Hispanics’

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Norma and Willie and their four friends sat hungry and worried inside a small two-bedroom cinder-block house off a dead-end gravel road.
Promises of steady work offering fair wages and a comfortable living rang hollow in the ears of the six Mexicans who arrived in Wake Forest, N.C., on that November 1998 day having driven from Texas in search of a better life.
“We didn’t have anything but Willie’s car and the few things we brought with us,” Norma said through a translator. “We didn’t have any money. We had nothing, no job, we didn’t know anyone.”
An unsettling knock on the front door after sunset roused the group. Outside stood three Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary students: Randy Galarza, Becky Murdock and Dave Brantley, all members of the seminary’s student-led evangelistic organization called Doulos, the Greek word for “servant.”
Galarza, a master of divinity student from Orlando, Fla., who is of Puerto Rican descent, invited the group to receive Christ as their Savior while sharing the gospel in Spanish, but no one responded.
“We thanked them for letting us come into their house, and on the way out, Becky, who was sensitive to their physical needs, asked me to find out if the people needed blankets or anything,” Galarza said.
Murdock, a master of arts in counseling student, said she was quite apprehensive about witnessing door-to-door and only agreed to go as a prayer partner. “I was scared, but I really wanted to learn,” she said. “I just felt like I really wasn’t going to be helpful.”
But it was Murdock’s keen sensitivity and compassion that brought hope to what appeared to the six Mexicans as a hopeless situation. “I kept thinking, these people need … a manifestation of God’s love in a [physical sense],” she said.
Following a quick sweep of the dorms, Murdock returned with Galarza and Brantley, bearing donations of blankets, pillows, canned goods, pasta, fruits, vegetables and ground beef.
When the Southeastern trio returned with food and blankets, Galarza said, the Holy Spirit led him to share the gospel again. “Everybody agreed with me that the Bible is the Word of God, everybody agreed with me that Jesus is the Son of God and everybody agreed with me that we are all sinners,” Galarza said.
When Galarza invited the group a second time to receive Christ as their Savior and Lord, Norma turned to her boyfriend and said, “Yes, let’s do this.” Galarza then asked each person if they to wanted to receive Christ as Lord and all six said they did.
“We believed that you had come because Jesus Christ had sent you to help us,” Norma explained through a translator. “That was the first night that we had slept in this house.”
Later that night, Galarza shared with the entire Doulos group how God had worked among his team and introduced two of his new Christian brothers to the group.
“What happened next was just incredible,” Galarza said. “Everybody just scattered and there was just a fervor, a fever in the room over who was going to do what. Everybody went to their own places, and people brought back boxes of food, blankets and clothing. Nobody asked, but they took up a collection, giving what they could, and came up with $180.”
Two days later, on Sunday, Southeastern students Jose Rondon, Kirby Francis, Ann Youngblood, Galarza and Murdock returned to Norma and Willie’s house for a time of praise and worship.
“We told them we would be back on Sunday because we recognize that discipleship is of the utmost importance,” Galarza said.
Francis led the group in Spanish praise songs. Rondon, a native of Venezuela, preached in Spanish and asked the people if they understood the commitment they made. Three people admitted feigning a decision Friday night and then made professions of faith in Christ.
Now the group is attending weekly Hispanic services at Woodland Baptist Church in Wake Forest where Southeastern student Miguel Gomez, a native of Mexico, ministers to the Hispanic community. All of them also have jobs.
On Feb. 28, Gomez officiated Norma and Willie’s wedding and baptized them a week later.
“After we received Jesus Christ into our hearts, the Holy Spirit told us to get married so that we could serve him more,” Norma said. “The only thing we have to do is continue seeking after him. We know that we live in the world, but we are not of the world. We know that we are his children and the day is coming when he is going to take us to be with him forever.”
As for Murdock, every time she lays her head on her pillow she is reminded of the pillow she gave Norma and Willey and more importantly the lesson she learned through the experience.
“If I’m willing to just be obedient, [God] can even use scared, little me.”

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  • Lee Weeks