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Hispanic churches celebrate evangelistic advance in Ind.

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–More than 200 Hispanics celebrated a harvest of souls from the weeklong “Hay Vida en Jesus” (“There Is Life in Jesus”) crusade, one of the Crossover initiatives preceding the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Indianapolis.

The crusade and June 12 culminating celebration were sponsored by the National Fellowship of Hispanic Southern Baptist Churches and supported by churches and pastors from several states.

Augusto Valverde, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Resurreccion and current president of the NFHSBC, announced that 96 registered professions of faith were registered during the initiative at four Indiana Baptist Hispanic churches. At least 231 evangelistic contacts were reported, Valverde said, along with 28 reconciliations (decisions for rededication and commitment to Christ).

“These numbers seem small,” Valverde said, “but they have a huge significance when one realizes that the total membership of the participating churches was 98 members.

“The Lord doubled the church in one week,” he noted.

Julio Fuentes, pastor of the Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and executive director of the NFHSBC for the past several years, said the June 12 gathering was one of the most important in the Hispanic fellowship’s history.

In particular, Fuentes noted the presence of 20 volunteers from at least five states who traveled to Indiana to support the fledgling Hispanic work of the State Convention of Baptists of Indiana.

The three-hour gathering at Northside Baptist Church was led by singer and music teacher Erick Mondragon from Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida in Dallas and a 10-member praise band from several Texas churches.

Also featured were Mario Selorio, pastor of Nueva Esperanza Church in Madera, Calif., who shared selections from his new CD, “Agradecido con Dios” (“Grateful to God”); Mariel Rosales, a Christian songwriter, singer and praise and worship leader from Primera Iglesia Bautista Emanuel in Vacavillage, Calif.; and Moises Hernandez, a member of Iglesia Bautista Resurreccion in Miami, a renowned tenor with numerous CDs to his credit.

During the preceding week’s evangelistic crusade, volunteers Erika Suazu and Vilma Arias from Iglesia Bautista Northside in Hialeah, Fla., along with Carmen Raudales and Julia Molina from Iglesia Bautista Resurreccion in Miami and Lazaro Alberto Guzman from First Baptist Church of Homestead, Fla., were assigned to help at Iglesia Bautista El Calvario in Seymour, Ind., where Gustavo Velasquez is pastor.

A total of 53 professions of faith and 104 evangelistic contacts, along with several reconciliations, were reported at the 80-member church.

Suazu said working with the church was “excellent for us and the local church members.” She described the church as “extremely” well organized and prepared for the evangelism effort to the community.

“There was a good spirit and participation as well as a positive reception by the community,” Suazu added.

Meanwhile, Miriam Cabrera from Crescent City Baptist Church in Metairie, La., Carmelo Arias from Northside congregation in Hialeah and Teresa Leon from Iglesia Resurreccion in Miami served as lay evangelists helping the Jesus es el Senor Mission in New Albany, Ind.

The new mission of three members, pastored by Jason Rochester, reported 21 professions of faith and three reconciliations. Cabrera said the highlight of the week came when the trio witnessed to two young Mexican women who recently had come to the United States and both made professions of faith and gave testimony at the church.

At Iglesia Bautista El Buen Pastor, the only Hispanic Baptist church in Indianapolis, led by interim pastor Alberto Rodriguez, 20 professions of faith and two reconciliations were recorded.

Cary Hanks, the state convention’s Hispanic church strategist, voiced his joy at the results of the crusade efforts and his concern that believers must begin discipleship of the new believers along with leadership training.

“Pastors [of the participating churches] now have more [converts] than they know what to do with,” Hanks said, gesturing to the pastors gathered at the altar at conclusion of the June 12 celebration.

“A good participation from the churches and many lifelong friendships were made with the people who came to help,” Hanks noted.

    About the Author

  • David R. Lema Jr.