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Ministry reaches New Mexico’s dairy workers

PORTALES, N.M. (BP) — Built on a simple desire to share the Gospel and develop relationships, Foundations of Faith is meeting the spiritual needs of New Mexico’s dairy workers who might not otherwise have the opportunity to hear about Jesus.

The ministry, which focuses on reaching Spanish-speaking employees of dairies in Portales and other areas of southeastern New Mexico, saw 124 people profess faith in Christ in 2019 — and continues to bear fruit amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our goal is to share the Gospel with the lost and encourage believers,” said Melissa Lamb, who coordinates Foundations of Faith along with her husband Beau. “At many of the dairies we simply hand out water and sodas and ask how we can pray for people.”

Melissa said that as she and Beau build relationships with the workers as well as with the dairies’ supervisors and owners, they work toward hosting Bible studies at the dairies.

“Our hope is that each worker will come to know Christ, get involved in a local church, and grow as a disciple,” Melissa said.

Beau said there are 135 dairies in New Mexico with more than 4,000 workers, most of whom speak Spanish. Many are unable to attend church regularly if at all. Foundations of Faith works through chaplains, who build relationships at each dairy with the goal of becoming the “pastor” of that group.

The response from dairy workers and owners varies, Beau said. Many are excited to participate in weekly Bible studies and for the chaplains’ desire to simply spend time with them. Others only allow the ministry to spend a few minutes passing out drinks. But he said watching the anticipation grow for the times when chaplains visit has been very rewarding.

“The first day I went to the dairies with the chaplains, we pulled up to a dairy and a man came excitedly up to us to give a report on his family member who was getting well, who the chaplains had been praying for,” Beau said.

Recently, at a worker appreciation event attended by workers and their families, Foundations of Faith provided a meal and shared the Gospel. Beau said many men responded to the call to Salvation.

“At the end of [the chaplains’] message they asked ask who would like to get saved,” Beau said. “Five men raise their hands immediately, and they didn’t put them down. Even after being led in a prayer to receive Christ, they continue to hold their hands up high. They were so excited to hear the Gospel, and they weren’t ashamed for any of their fellow workers to know.”

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected and altered Foundations of Faith’s ministry. Bible studies as well as the ministry’s English as a Second Language program have been moved online, the Baptist New Mexican reported.

Unable to have as much in-person ministry engagement, the ministry’s chaplains have worked primarily through phone and mail communication, Melissa said, adding that letters delivered by traditional mail have brought a personal touch to the ministry. The chaplains hope to inspire the workers to study the Bible even more.

They have also recorded devotional videos, which are posted on the ministry’s Facebook page and website. Melissa said one chaplain received a call from a woman who came to know the Lord through the online videos. They are confident the Gospel is still reaching those in need.

Beau said when the pandemic subsides and social-distancing restrictions are relaxed, they hope to find greater opportunities to reach the workers’ families, including events like Vacation Bible School.

“When we are able to congregate again, we are planning two baptism services at local dairies where we also hope to show the Jesus Film in their native languages and invite families to attend,” Beau said.

Beau said he has never seen as many people reached for Christ in such a short amount of time. In 2019, 124 workers were led to Christ.

“We have seen the success of the chaplain ministry and believe this model could work in other areas and industries,” Beau said. “They [the chaplains] truly have something to share that could impact the Hispanic culture in incredible ways.”