News Articles

FROM THE STATES: La., Mich., Okla. evangelism/missions news; ‘I’ve seen God bringing people to our ministry who have never even been to church before’

Today’s From the States features items from:
Baptist Message (Louisiana)
Baptist Beacon (Michigan)
The Baptist Messenger (Oklahoma)


Iglesia Celebration makes
a difference in New Orleans

By Brian Blackwell

METAIRIE, La. (Baptist Message) — The young Anglo, a native of New Orleans, admits he is an unlikely person to lead a Hispanic congregation of 200 in his hometown.

But as David Speed serves as pastor of Iglesia Celebration in Metairie and trains leaders to fulfill the Great Commission throughout New Orleans and beyond, he realizes it would not be possible without the help of the Georgia Barnette Offering for State Missions.

“There have been times where my wife and I have talked and it seems God has chosen us to be in this position because it personifies He is great in our weakness,” Speed said. “On the outside looking in, I’m a young White American guy and my wife is from Guatemalan culture.

“But God is faithful and we are seeing people baptized and giving lives to the Lord,” said Speed. “God continues to confirm we are right where He wants us. There is no better place to be.”

Unlikely calling

God planted a desire within Speed to minister to Hispanics while he was living in New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. One afternoon Speed was driving past a home improvement store when he noticed 300 Hispanics sitting in the parking lot, waiting for someone to come and pick them up for work.

He wanted to communicate with them but could not speak their language.

Then, a friend living in Mexico convinced Speed to move there in May 2007.

For two years, Speed learned the Spanish language and helped plant churches in rural areas outside of Acapulco.

He returned to the U.S. in July 2009, with plans to attend New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

But a month later, Speed knew his heart was in a country whose people spoke the Spanish language and he left the U.S. once again, this time for Guatemala.

While working at an orphanage there, he met his wife. They served together until they felt God leading them back to the U.S. in 2012.

While searching for God’s next mission, the couple ended up attending Celebration Church in Metairie.

Speed translated the services for his wife who spoke limited English then.

Pastor Dennis Watson learned of Speed’s translating ability and set up a meeting with him.

This set the stage for Iglesia Celebration, part of Celebration Church’s seven campuses.

“He asked if I had any questions for him and I asked that if Celebration had such an influential ministry in New Orleans, why they didn’t have a Spanish ministry,” Speed said. “He said that’s a good question and to pray if it would be a good fit for me to consider serving here. And that turned into what we have today, with many showing up during the week for LifeGroups and as many as 200 on Sunday mornings to worship together in the Spanish language.”

Iglesia Celebration began in February 2014 when Speed held a LifeGroup at the home of a Hispanic family in Metairie with eight. Two months later, attendance had grown to 20 and they began meeting at Celebration Church’s campus in Metairie.

By the end of the year, the congregation had grown to 45 and showed no signs of slowing down, moving from a Saturday evening to a Sunday morning service. Today, the congregation also has a Wednesday evening discipleship program and six LifeGroups that meet during the week and hit its highest attended service ever on Easter this year, with 260 on hand.

This congregation’s numerical growth has been aided by the baptism of 31 in two years.

“I’ve seen God bringing people to our ministry who have never even been to church before or were exposed to it but never had a true knowledge of Jesus,” Speed said. “We have seen people come in, experience the Gospel and apply it to their lives. This just confirms that my wife and I are just where we are supposed to be at this time in our lives and makes us excited about the future of Hispanic ministry in New Orleans.”

With more than 100,000 Hispanics in the New Orleans area, he hopes to one day help start more Hispanic churches throughout the area.

But to do so would require God raising up more male leaders.

“Our goal is to duplicate what is done here in Metairie and put a Hispanic church in all of our seven campuses in the area,” Speed said. “Please pray we have more males step up and come in, prepared not only to share the vision we have but also play the vital role we need from them.”
This article appeared in the Baptist Message (baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Brian Blackwell is a staff writer for the Baptist Message.


Mich. churches
help each other

By Ian Minielly

IRONWOOD, Mich. (Baptist Beacon) Some churches, especially smaller churches might believe that they are ill equipped to help launch a new church start. But church planter Ian Minielly received a firsthand look of what an impact another church can have on the success of a new church.

Ian and Stephanie Minielly lived in Asheville, N.C., when their journey of church planting began. They felt God was calling them to start Catalyst Baptist Church in Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As they began to work with the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (BSCM) and Church Planter Catalyst (CPC) Darren Greer, he promised them a sponsoring church that would motivate and support their efforts despite being more than 600 miles apart. Minielly said, “I was leery at first, and my experience with people over the years had left me chagrined regarding offers of assistance. The offer usually fell well short of reality and this is what I expected.”

Tecumseh Missionary Baptist Church (TMBC) is actually the halfway point between Asheville and Ironwood. But the relationship between TMBC and the Miniellys began before they ever left North Carolina.

TMBC Mission committee member Jim Ellsworth helped the Miniellys with one of their largest concerns, healthcare. Minielly says, “My wife and I had been covered through my employer and now we were venturing into Obamacare and neither of us knew what to expect. Jim put me in touch with an insurance agent in Michigan he knew that worked with other pastors, and who is the son of missionaries. Jim’s recommendation was excellent, and we still use the same agent because he has gone the extra mile time and again.”

As the Miniellys began the long drive to their new home in Ironwood, TMBC invited them to stay with them along the way. The church had tables across the sanctuary; loaded with “Made in Michigan” products for the church planting couple. Ian says, “Those products lasted us many months. It was so wonderful. In fact, there was so much we could not transport it all and they brought the rest up a couple months later.” He adds, “At no point in my Christian faith had I encountered a church and people so authentic and willing to uphold the Great Commission, but this was only the beginning.”

Through the support of TMBC, the Miniellys say they are two years ahead of where they would have been without them. TMBC rallied around Catalyst and the church planters. Ian says, “What I could have never foreseen was this was only the beginning. Shortly after we arrived in Ironwood, the same TMBC members traveled up here and delivered a full trailer of church supplies, furniture, and blessings right to our doorstep, and stayed for our first service.”

In reflecting on all of the support they have received, Ian adds, “If other established churches would follow their lead, I have no doubt church plants would achieve viability sooner, and win more souls to Jesus. I cannot say enough about the difference it has made in this ministry, and I cannot wait to do the same thing for a fresh Michigan church plant.”
This article appeared in the Baptist Beacon, newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Ian Minielly is a church planter and pastor of Catalyst Baptist Church, Upper Peninsula Association of Southern Baptists in Ironwood, Mich.


Okla. Hispanic State
Evangelism Conference uplifts

By Brian Hobbs

OKLAHOMA CITY (The Baptist Messenger) — More than 350 Hispanic pastors and church members from across Oklahoma gathered together at Oklahoma City, Capitol Hill for the annual Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Hispanic State Evangelism Conference Aug. 26-27. There were 25 Hispanic Baptist churches represented, including churches from Guymon, Ponca City, Duncan, Durant, Poteau, Ardmore and other cities.

The event featured preaching, worship through music, Scripture reading and workshops.

The theme of the Conference was “Tell the Great Story.” Luke 16:19-31 was the conference theme passage and participants from children to adults were trained in how to tell that story evangelistically. Training workshops were conducted for men, women, youth, and children of every age.

Other workshops included the Connect>1 Sunday School Evangelism Strategy and Evangelism in the 21st Century Church, presented by keynote conference speaker Johnny Sangoquiza, pastor/evangelist, author, and professor, who preached Friday night on the Gadarene Demoniac, the transforming power of God, telling others, beginning with your family, the great things God has done, and telling the great story of the Gospel.

Saturday, he preached on the theme text of Lazarus and the rich man and called everyone to a profound commitment to evangelize the lost.

This year, a special youth conference speaker, Jorge Mendoza, teaching pastor of Blueprint Church, a multi-ethnic church in Atlanta, Ga., provided excellent training for youth. Worship was led by Jaime Espinoza and the worship group from Oklahoma City, Rios de Agua Viva.

Certificates were presented to the pastors of the 10 leading Hispanic churches in baptisms this past year. They were in order from number one to number 10, church and pastor: OKC, Northwest in Spanish, Mauricio Mejia; OKC, Rios de Agua Viva, Cesar Garcia; Poteau, Hispanic, Carlos Aguilar; OKC, Southern Hills Hispanic, Jesus Villa; OKC, Capitol Hill Hispanic, Isaias Vargas; OKC, Emmanuel, Juan Luna; OKC, Nueva Vida, Jose Cifuentes; Edmond Hispanic, Alfaro Orozco; Beaver Hispanic, Miguel Facio; and OKC, Iglesia Bautista Central, Felix Cabrera.

Mark McClellan, dean of the Robert Haskins School of Christian Ministry and ethnic evangelism specialist, was encouraged about the spirit of unity and renewed passion for evangelism and reaching the state for Christ.

“This was a wonderful conference and we all left challenged and many were better equipped to carry out the Great Commission,” he said. “The keynote speaker was exceptional, and the workshop leaders did an excellent job.”

Ever Borunda, who serves as the Associate Dean of the Haskins School and pastor of the Rancho Village Hispanic congregation, believes God is going to raise up a new generation of Hispanic pastors and ministry leaders in the state.

Alan Quigley presented greetings from Anthony Jordan and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO). Quigley joined in the conference theme and purpose by exhorting those attending to evangelize their world. He told the participants that the churches of the BGCO supported their ministry. The conference was provided by the generous gifts of Oklahoma Baptists through the Cooperative program.
This article appeared in The Baptist Messenger (baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Brian Hobbs is editor of The Baptist Messenger.


EDITOR’S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board’s call to embrace the world’s 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board’s call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. The items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.

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