NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–With the rallying imperative “Yes! We can!” Fermin Whittaker, executive director of the California Southern Baptist Convention, opened the North American Mission Board’s Eighth Annual Hispanic Church Planting Celebration June 19 at The People’s Church in Franklin, Tenn.
“Hispanics should not expect the Anglo to do our work for us,” Whittaker stated, leading the 300 attendees in repeating the “Yes! We can!” exclamation.
“God is sending the world to us,” Whittaker said, “and we have no option but to start more churches and evangelize our Samaria.”
Chuy Avila, Spanish-language director for the Tennessee Baptist Convention, recognized church planters involved in the newest Hispanic congregations in the Nashville area. Avila then asked all of the pastors present to lay hands on the church planters and the group prayed for God’s help in the workers’ endeavors.
NAMB President Robert E. (Bob) Reccord gave special recognition to Mauricio Vargas, a church planting missionary in Missouri, for his work in starting new Hispanic congregations throughout a long tenure of ministry in the United States.
Reccord said evangelism and church planting are “the two-pronged focus of the heart of growth of the SBC. For Mauricio Vargas, you cannot separate these two from his life.”
Vargas voiced appreciation for the recognition and challenged all to “continue being obedient. Planting churches is a great challenge, but God is good.”
Ennio Aguero, the newly appointed NAMB national missionary related to Hispanic church planting, told how Vargas was a positive example and mentor in his life. To Aguero, Vargas “is a great servant of God and soccer coach, friend, and someone you can count on always.”
Joining Vargas at the session were his 97-year-old mother and more than 30 other family members.
Another highlight of the meeting was a presentation of NAMB’s Hispanic Task Force’s report and recommendations. Reccord appointed the task force, comprised of 15 Hispanic SBC leaders from across the nation, in the fall of 2004.
After several meetings, the group produced a report detailing specific strategic recommendations in the areas of evangelism, church planting, cultural penetration and leadership development. An executive summary of the recommendations in both English and Spanish along with a report on 10 “21st Century Hispanic Realities” in North America are available on NAMB’s website at www.NAMB.net on the news archive pages.
Reccord expressed appreciation for the work of the task force and the report significant and timely.
“Hearing needs is one thing, but doing something is another,” Reccord said. “We’re committed to studying and then implementing every recommendation possible.”
To that end, Reccord reported that an internal executive task force has been appointed to implement various task force recommendations. The internal group is led by Carlos Ferrer, NAMB’s chief financial officer and a native of Cuba.
David Galvan, pastor of Iglesia Nueva Vida in Garland, Texas, and chairman of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees, gave the response to the task force’s recommendations by returning to the declaration of “Yes! We can!” By relying on “extraordinary prayer,” Galvan said the challenge can be met since “God is for us.”
A 14-member praise and worship band led by Heriberto Hermosillo, an international music evangelist, and the evangelistic musical group Celestial from California provided the special music for the celebration.