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Hispanic missions, seminary, fatherhood keep him moving

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Pastoring a church while attending seminary full time can prove quite taxing. Try pastoring three congregations while maintaining the schedule of a full-time student.
Alex Cosio, a master of divinity student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, is doing just that as pastor of three Hispanic fellowships which make up the North Central Hispanic Ministries of South Carolina.
Cosio’s love and burden for his people drives him through a tireless schedule, including 700 miles of travel each week. Cosio began preaching and knocking on doors in the newly founded association March 1. Thus far, he has seen more than 70 people come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Cosio, 32, serves as pastor and music director every weekend at Hispanic missions in Lancaster, Pageland and Fort Mill, S.C.
“Alex has a great compassion for lost people and a boldness for God’s Word,” said Mike Lewis, who is pastor of Crestview Baptist Church as well as Cosio’s brother-in-law. Crestview Baptist helps sponsor the Hispanic mission in Lancaster. “We’ve seen alcoholics made sober, lives changed, families brought together. … It’s a tremendous work God is doing through him.”
Cosio begins his marathon mission endeavor each Friday departing from Southeastern’s Wake Forest, N.C., campus for a three-and-a half-hour drive to Lancaster, where he and his family lodge every weekend with his sister and brother-in-law. After unloading in Lancaster, Cosio drives 30 minutes to Pageland, where he goes house-to-house throughout the Hispanic community sharing the gospel on Friday nights, Saturday mornings and Saturday afternoons. On Saturday evenings, Cosio preaches at First Baptist Church, Pageland.
“I just go out and if somebody looks Hispanic, I start talking to them,” Cosio said.
On Sundays, he drives 45 minutes from Lancaster to Fort Mill to preach a morning service at Flint Hill Baptist Church, followed by more witnessing in the neighboring communities that afternoon. Then it’s back to Lancaster to lead a Sunday evening worship services at Crestview Baptist Church.
People in the Hispanic communities in the new South Carolina Baptist association are mostly from Mexico and Central America. They come to America, Cosio said, to find a better way of life. Many work in restaurants or in landscaping or farming. Most of the married men have left their families back home.
“Many are illiterate and did not graduate from high school,” Cosio said. “They come here to find a job where they can make some money and send it back to their family. They can live better here than they can there. Some try to bring their families here.”
For the most part, Cosio said, the people he ministers to are receptive to the gospel. The majority are from Catholic backgrounds. The opposition he encounters is usually from those who use their “religion” as a crutch to continue to live independent from God. Those who have received Christ are generally very committed.
“(On a recent) Friday night, I was talking to (some) of them and they asked me the question about the Virgin (Mary), and I told them, ‘I don’t want to tell you what I think, I want to tell you what the Bible says.’ Some of them got upset with me, but one of them said, ‘Look, on Friday nights when I got my check, I would come home with the idea of going out to buy beer (to) drink (over) the weekend, but since he came and shared the Word of God with me, I have been changed and I don’t have the need to drink anymore.’ Another man was overhearing the conversation and he said, ‘I want to be changed, too,’ and he prayed to receive Christ,” Cosio recounted.
In addition to leading the three Hispanic missions, Cosio is a full-time student at Southeastern, where he also maintains a part-time job. The ministry definitely puts a strain on family life. But he and his wife, Lina, are both certain about the Lord’s leading and are fully committed to God’s call on their lives. Cosio sets aside Monday and Wednesday nights for quality family time. The Cosios have two children, Sari, 8 and Alex Jr., 7. Cosio left his home in Mexico City to enroll at Southeastern in the spring of 1995, 12 years after becoming a Christian. At the time, Cosio’s brother-in-law, Mike Lewis, had started the Hispanic outreach at Crestview Baptist a few years earlier but didn’t have anyone to lead the ministry.
“My wife and I saw a lot of Hispanics around town and had a big burden for their salvation,” Lewis said.
Dan Griffin, pastor of Flint Hill Baptist Church in Fort Mill, said more than 150 Spanish-speaking people lived near his church. “We decided there was a greater need than just those who come to our church,” he said.
Guadalupe Espinosa, a member of the Pageland congregation, said, “Alex is a very good pastor. … I enjoy church so much more now that there is someone who can speak our language. He also plays music beautifully. I’m thankful for him.”
Sue Phillips, chairman of the Chesterfield Baptist Association Hispanic Committee which works with First Baptist, Pageland, said, “Alex has been a gift from God and an answer to prayer. … We needed help so badly. He has such a gentle spirit and he’s really committed. The people love him.”
After finishing seminary, Alex said, he and his wife would like to return to their native land.
“We prayed for about a year for the Lord to guide us here,” Cosio said. “I’m kind of getting attached now to the missions. The desire of our heart, however, is to go back to Mexico. The need is greater there, and the door is completely open right now for the gospel. The Lord is doing great things in Mexico.”

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  • Alison Wiseman