ST. CLOUD, Fla. (BP) – A prayer movement among Hispanic pastors in Florida has expanded to make a national impact among Hispanic leaders in the Convention.
The movement started in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when a small group of Hispanic pastors in Florida began meeting on Zoom for mutual encouragement and prayer.
A similar group of Hispanic pastors is now meeting on the first Monday of every month for prayer with leaders from across the country and even some from Puerto Rico and Canada.
“It’s so joyful and exciting,” said Eloy Rodriquez, president of the National Hispanic Baptist Network and pastor of Idlewild en Español in Tampa, Fla.
“There’s no words to describe it. It’s just very joyful to hear what God is doing in our nation. This is just the beginning, at least nationally speaking.”
Luis Lopez, SBC Executive Committee vice president of Hispanic relations and mobilization, spoke to the power of the movement.
“It is encouraging and refreshing to see pastors and church leaders from different places across the nation join in prayer with one another to see God move,” Lopez said.
“I see hunger for God and for Him to reveal Himself to His church. That is going to come as a result of prayer and as we humble ourselves and seek his face.”
Rodriquez said he desires the main theme for the prayer gatherings to be “unity.”
“The devil cannot destroy the Church, but what he wants to do is divide the church,” Rodriquez said.
“I think just to pray for unity and to remind us what is the main reason why we’re supposed to be together, which is to take Christ to our nation and to the nations.
“Prayer is the base foundation of everything, and the main thing is unity around the main purpose, to be light and salt so that people can see Jesus. People can know what we stand for, not for what we’re against.”
The initial Zoom prayer meetings were organized by Emanuel Roque, Hispanic multicultural catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention.
Nearly 50 pastors throughout Florida would gather each Thursday night for an hour of prayer and every Sunday at 6 a.m. for the same.
The group consistently met over the next two years, and held in-person prayer events in 2022.
At these “prayer concerts,” pastors from throughout Florida would meet at a particular church on a Sunday for prayer, followed by the congregation of that church joining them at the building for a full service of prayer lasting several hours.
So far, events have been held at churches in Tampa, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Miami and several other locations. In total, more than 3,000 people have attended these prayer concerts in Florida.
The success of the movement led Rodriquez to create a strategy for replicating the movement on a national scale.
Rodriquez and the National Hispanic Baptist Network decided to form a prayer team a few months ago dedicated to this cause throughout the Convention.
David Perez, pastor of Iglesia Casa de Bendición in St. Cloud, Fla., who has been participating in the prayer meetings since there were just a few pastors meeting online in 2020, was tapped to lead the movement.
“Many people have asked the Florida leaders about the movement. They want to have it in their state too,” Perez said. “I think this is the answer to the prayer movement in Florida. That was part of the prayer, to move that prayer movement to the nation.”
Perez said he hopes to plan more “prayer concert” type events at locations all over the country.
“We need unity in prayer and in fellowship,” Perez said. “We are now praying for a pastor in California when their wife is sick. We are together throughout the nation praying for that pastor and his wife. That is the love and unity of the body of Christ.”
Perez said the national prayer groups are praying for the Convention as a whole, including this year’s SBC annual meeting in New Orleans.
He said the National Hispanic Baptist Network is planning a time of prayer for Hispanic pastors and leaders just before the Hispanic Baptist Fellowship the Sunday before the annual meeting in New Orleans.
The prayer event will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 11, and all Hispanic pastors are welcome. It is the first-ever event of its kind.
“We are also praying for revival,” Perez said. “We are seeing people in different churches coming to Jesus. We are seeing the movement of the mission. There is now a youth in Florida that has started a prayer time in response to our movement. These different things are all a blessing.”