Hispanic Baptists encouraged to pray, remain ‘as one’ at annual celebration

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INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – Hispanic Baptists kicked off their time in Indianapolis for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention with a celebratory dinner on Sunday night, June 9, at the Indianapolis Convention Center.

The gathering drew just over 200 pastors, pastors’ wives and leaders for a time of prayer and worship as well as biblical messages focused on prayer and unity.

David Perez, pastor of Iglesia Casa de Bendición in St. Cloud, Fla., and director of prayer for the National Hispanic Baptist Network led the group to pray in gratitude for God’s protection and presence, His guidance during the annual gathering, the people who made professions of faith during Crossover, pastors and leaders facing difficult circumstances in their personal lives and ministry, wisdom and discernment during voting sessions.

For the first time in SBC history, proposed resolutions have been made available in Spanish through the SBC 2024 app and online.

Bob Sena, director of Spanish studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, received a special recognition for being a champion of Hispanic Baptists. Photo by Elijah Hickman
The meeting, organized by the National Hispanic Baptist Network under the leadership of director Bruno Molina, featured Luis Soto, executive director of the Baptist Convention of Puerto Rico, as speaker. Reading from Ephesians 6:14, Soto reminded the group a spiritual battle is currently raging, and such a battle must be fought with spiritual weapons. “We fight with the Word of God, by persevering in the faith, and by praying at all times,” he said.
“If you are like me, your legs shake every time you share the Gospel. Even the great missionary and theologian Paul asked the church to pray that God would remove all fear so he could preach the Gospel boldly. … Culture opposes the Gospel, and we need the power of God to share it.”

Eloy Rodriguez, National Hispanic Baptist Network president, echoed Soto’s message with a short exhortation to remain of “one mind and one voice.”

Molina challenged the pastors and leaders present to “fervently pray, generously give and joyously collaborate.” Worship was led by Julio Arriola, director of Send Network Texas.

Jeff Iorg, SBC Executive Committee president and CEO, greeted the group and thanked them for their mission work and generous giving to the Cooperative Program. SBC President Bart Barber also made an appearance at the gathering to thank Hispanic Baptists for their service within the SBC and for allowing him to serve them during the last two years. Bob Sena, director of Spanish studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, received a special recognition for being a champion of Hispanic Baptists.

SBC President Bart Barber addresses the National Hispanic Baptist Network as the group’s executive director, Bruno Molina, looks on. Photo by Elijah Hickman

As dinner was being served, representatives from some SBC entities shared about the resources available in Spanish for pastors and their churches. Among those represented were Logos, GuideStone Financial Resources, International Mission Board, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Apartment Life, Prison Fellowship, La Biblia “Q,” Chaplaincy of America, the North American Mission Board’s Send Network Español and Send Relief, Lifeway and Samaritan’s Purse.

Several SBC seminaries as well as Criswell College and Dallas Baptist University presented their Spanish language programs. “We have talked for many years about the growth of the Hispanic people, but that future we talked about is today and we have to get serious about theological education,” said Fabio Miguel Castellanos, director of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s online Spanish education program.

In Hispanic Baptist Network news, David Inestroza, communication’s director, shared updates to the official website and encouraged members to access the resources available online. Clara Molina, the Network’s women’s leader announced the collection of a special offering to be donated to Mission:Dignity, a GuideStone program that provides financial assistance to retired ministers and their widows.

The gathering, which started in prayer, also ended with prayer led by Perez asking God for protection of the family unit, pastors, for the lost to be reached, strength and passion for ministry leaders and for the nations to hear the Gospel.

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