Month: October 2016

Former IMB missionary receives national award for surgical service

WASHINGTON, D.C. Long-time medical missionary and Fort Worth resident, Dr. Rebekah Naylor, was honored recently by the nation’s surgical community for her career of service to people lacking adequate medical care overseas, as well as in Texas. 

Naylor was presented by the American College of Surgeons with the Pfizer Surgical Humanitarian Award Oct. 18 in Washington, D.C., at a reception hosted by the Board of Governors at the Clinical Congress 2016.

The annual award is given to surgeons who dedicate their careers to providing surgical care to underserved populations.

“I am very humbled by this recognition by the American College of Surgeons, a professional secular organization,” Naylor said.  “I am so amazed that I would be considered for the award recognizing a career in missionary service. I feel that God has so blessed me in this, and I want to be a good steward of the opportunity to give witness before them of my faith in Jesus Christ.”

Naylor completed her surgical training at Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas in 1973, and went on to begin her medical career serving with the International Mission Board at the Bangalore Baptist Hospital in Karnataka, India. 

During more than three decades of serving in India, Naylor expanded patient care at the Bangalore Baptist Hospital, set up training programs for physicians, and established a nursing school there. In addition to her medical service, Naylor also dedicated much of her time to growing the local church in the state of Karnataka, where she was involved in establishing 900 churches.

“In its earlier years, I tried to lead the hospital setting standards of professional excellence and bold witness for Jesus, leading to many churches. I pray that the hospital will continue to be a place of physical healing and a place of spiritual healing as people hear about Jesus and choose to follow him,” Naylor said. 

Naylor returned to Texas in 2002, where she taught at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas until retiring in 2010. The following year, she led the founding of Mercy Clinic in south Fort Worth, which treats the underserved and uninsured. Today, Naylor serves as the global health care consultant for Baptist Global Response and continues to travel to India, where she remains involved in the ministry there.  

Click here to read a Q&A interview with Dr. Naylor and IMB writer Eliza Thomas.

Church attendance in London rising, British theologian says

Cambridge, UK—“What’s good in the UK is that Christians have now got used to being in a minority and aren’t angry about it,” said Peter Williams, warden of Tyndale House, Britain’s premier theological library. 

Despite pervasive secularism throughout the United Kingdom, Williams told the TEXAN that modern British evangelicals are “quite determined” and “have a substantial understanding of what they are up against.”

“Those who are evangelical in the UK have been subject to secular propaganda for a long time. This has allowed some of them to build up substantial immunity. We have also seen the tragic effects of secularism within our culture.”

“I have had secular education down my throat the whole time, and most of the other Christians in the UK that I know have,” Williams added, laughing. “I think most of us have got an immunity to it.” 

Williams acknowledged hostility to the church is the product of both genuine and intentional misunderstanding.

“There is plenty of hostility to Christian exclusivity—the claims of salvation through Christ alone, the claims of human sinfulness, and the claim above all that we are not free to do anything simply because we want to,” Williams said. 

“Historically, the Christians were thought of as the good guys,” Williams mused. “And now you have the reversal, where the Christians are [seen as] the people who wreck the environment, are less likely to be vegetarian, judge people.

“Genuinely, people believe [today] that Christianity is not good for society. This is all tied up in the narrative of the way you tell the past, the [so-called] terrible things Christianity did. The idea that Christians were anti-science, conducted the witch hunts, etc.”

There is a need to reframe the narrative with truth, Williams added, noting that only two witches in Europe were convicted in church courts and that many Christians contributed notably to scientific advances.

Tyndale House, adjacent to Cambridge University, is home to 20 scholars in residence and their families; 30 others engaged in research at the library live off site. The students, representing six continents, are mostly pursuing doctoral or post-doctoral work at Cambridge and other universities. 

“Tyndale House has played a central role in reviving the intellectual leadership of British evangelicalism,” Williams said.

The library was founded in 1944 by British evangelicals realizing the need to “engage with the mind” in light of what Williams called the “writhing skepticism” that characterized English church and society in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

Still, the greatest threat to Christianity may come from the church itself, Williams proposed. 

“There is a real danger that people in the church, people who are followers of Jesus, expect people outside the church, people who have not been transformed by the Holy Spirit, to live by the Christian ethics. That is a fundamental mistake because we know that without the power of the Holy Spirit, we couldn’t do it. So why would we expect people who haven’t been transformed to do that?”

What the church must emphasize instead is the changing work of God’s grace, he said: “We’ve got to be really clear that we are not expecting people to improve their lives prior to coming into contact with the Christian message. 

Williams rejects the notion that the church is persecuted in the West. 

“I am more happy with the word opposition, which again, we’ve got to realize, is selective,” Williams said. “There are parts where there isn’t opposition, where there is acceptance, where there are open doors.”

Recognizing similar trends in the United States, Williams called for American Christians to guard against anger, noting that in a climate of secularism, the church should expect “opposition.” He also said that American and English Christians need each other.

“Paul and Silas were singing hymns of praise that they had opposition. It is an incredible privilege for the church in America to suffer some opposition. It doesn’t mean that we welcome opposition or persecution. We are told to pray against it. We can be grieved by it, but I think there is an element of anger in the way that Christians in America perceive that they are being treated.

“To some extent, [anger] is justifiable because [American Christians] look at America as a thing that was founded in a very beautiful way—set up with a good Constitution—and [now] they see that beautiful thing that they loved being spoiled. That produces the reaction of anger, understandable grief and so on, but I think that if we were counseling an Iranian Christian or someone in a situation where they are really, really being persecuted, we would not counsel them to get angry with those who are persecuting them.”

Meanwhile, about Christianity across the pond, Williams said, “It’s hard to say whether the evangelical church is gaining or losing ground in the UK. The promising statistic is that church attendance in London is at 8 percent whereas it is at 5 percent in the rest of England.” 

This growth is not just the result of immigration, he added. “There are also strong witnesses within our financial districts. London has a habit of attracting talent from round the entire country, and this means that there is often good strategic leadership in the churches here.”

Williams attends an independent Baptist church and sees cooperation among conservative, evangelical UK believers, regardless of denomination. 

“The Church of England is a single denomination but contains many different strands,” he said. “The affinity between an evangelical Baptist church and an evangelical Anglican church is far bigger than between a liberal Anglican church and an evangelical Anglican one. Often evangelicals of different denominations have good relationships. Our church sometimes collaborates with a nearby evangelical Anglican church, and the leaders have great mutual respect.”

If London is the harbinger of the spiritual direction of the UK, 8 percent looks good. Meanwhile, British Christians remain a determined minority. 

SBTC officer nominees announced

HOUSTON All three Southern Baptists of Texas Convention officers—President Nathan Lino, Vice President Dante Wright, and Secretary Juan Sanchez—will be renominated for a second term at the upcoming SBTC Annual Meeting at Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Nov. 14-15. 

Officers can serve two consecutive one-year terms, and each officer is completing his first term.

Josh Smith, pastor of MacArthur Blvd Baptist Church in Irving, will nominate Nathan Lino, pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church (NEHBC) in Humble, for SBTC president. Born in South Africa, Lino’s family immigrated to the Houston area when he was 11. He planted NEHBC in 2002 and has served previously as first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2012-2013 as well as SBTC first vice president from 2006-2008.

Ms. Jerry Jones, director of Christian education at Sweet Home Baptist Church, plans to nominate her pastor, Dante Wright, pastor of Sweet Home Baptist Church in Round Rock, for vice president. Wright has served two years as SBTC secretary from 2013-2015. Wright spent 10 years as a football coach before surrendering to ministry and coming to pastor Sweet Home Baptist Church.

Ben Wright, pastor of Cedar Pointe Baptist Church in Cedar Park, will nominate Juan Sanchez, pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, as secretary. Sanchez has served as pastor of High Pointe since 2005 and also serves on the faculty of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as assistant professor of Christian theology.

Election of officers will take place during the Tuesday afternoon session, Nov. 15. 

London: Epicenter of Global Influence

Perched on a hill overlooking the historic southeastern London borough of Greenwich, the Royal Observatory represents, as some have claimed, the center of the modern world.

Chosen in 1884 by delegates from 25 nations as the location of the prime meridian, or Longitude 0°, Greenwich has served as the standard for mapping and world time zones ever since. Today, this thriving part of London holds great promise for impacting the world.

Home to the University of Greenwich and located just across the Thames River from Canary Warf, London’s bustling financial district, the borough’s 270,000 residents are largely young professionals and students. Grounded in a secular worldview and seeming success, most of them feel no need for religion, much less the gospel.

However, International Mission Board church planter Chad Rigney and his wife, Lynsi, have seen God open a door for ministry to these millennials and are praying for the gospel to transform this community.

When the Rigneys arrived in London in 2013, they settled into the northwestern London borough of Harrow and began visiting churches in the area to determine where God was at work. Although initially saddened by the number of gospel-less and dying churches, they eventually launched a “missional community”—a group of believers who grow together in their faith, serve one another and seek opportunities to bring the gospel to their neighborhoods.

The group has met in their home for the past two years, focusing on a three-part rhythm of discipleship—up, in and out.

Chad Rigney explains: “Up—meaning we need to have times when we’re worshipping God and we’re learning in the Scriptures. In—we need to do family and take care of one another well. This means hanging out and having dinners together. And then, out—we need to have a mission that we’re doing together focused outward.”

For example, they organized a Christmas party for their first outwardly focused event and invited non-religious friends. One of those who came remarked how great the party was and asked how the group knew each other, which opened the door for a spiritual conversation.

IMB’s Global Cities Initiative

London has been dubbed by some as the world’s capital city, based on its influential role as a global financial center as well as a leading international city for business, the arts, education, tourism and ethnic diversity. More than 300 languages are spoken in London, and 37 percent of the city’s population was born outside the U.K., one-fourth of which have moved to London in the last five years.

Forbes magazine ranked London as the “most influential city in the world,” but the city that once served as fertile ground for great Christian preaching and churches has grown fallow over the last 50 years.

In 1963, 3.2 percent of London’s population claimed to have no affiliation with religion. In 2015, that number had risen to a staggering 44.7 percent. The Anglican Church alone saw a 33 percent drop during this span.

“There’s no lack of church buildings in London, but the average congregation is fewer than 20 people,” IMB senior city manager James Roberts told the TEXAN.

Roberts is part of the leadership team in London strategizing a comprehensive missions approach to reach this city of 8.6 million. More than 50 non-indigenous communities, each with 10,000 people or more, have been identified in London, making it truly a global city.

Recognizing global migration patterns from rural to urban settings, IMB has named London—along with Dubai, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, and a major city in South Asia (unnamed for security purposes)—as focal points in its GCI pilot. Cities were selected based on their potential for global influence as well as the vast numbers of unengaged, unreached people group represented in these cities. The goal is that as members of these people groups are transformed by the gospel while living in these major cities, they will return to their homelands as indigenous missionaries.

In London, this plan involves using the city’s more than 280 underground tube stops as targets for missional communities. The team’s “God-sized vision” includes having a missional community at every stop, and they are in the initial stages of mapping the areas and conducting demographic research to aid in future evangelism and discipleship.

“We want to engage people groups; we want to see London reached,” Roberts said, adding that their strategy includes the “goal of starting new groups, doing evangelism, and training leaders, with the hope of starting new churches.”

IMB President David Platt’s vision of “limitless missionaries” requires “multiple pathways” for engaging lostness all over the world. In addition to career missionaries, IMB is looking for Christian students, business professionals and retirees willing to move overseas to aid mission teams in one of the five GCI cities. These life stages, combined with numerous opportunities for education and employment, serve as platforms for missions engagement either short-term or long-term.

“Our hope for (students and business professionals) who come with GCI is not only will they help engage with us in what we’re doing in the city, but they will start ministry in their areas of influence,” Roberts said.

“London is also a place where retirees can come and engage. Retirees are incredible because they have resources, time and a ton of wisdom. They’ve been walking with God longer than most of us, and they have a different perspective. We can release them into the city and engage them in all different kinds of ways.”

IMB also wants partner churches in the United States that will select a city and mobilize its members who might be interested in connecting with a team. The board even has access consultants in each city that can help business professionals discover potential job openings. In each of these megacities, abundant opportunities for gospel engagement exist.

For more information and to find out how you or your church can partner with IMB through the Global Cities Initiative, visit

Interaction with his missional community has helped Rigney understand the culture around him, both religious and non-religious.

“It’s been a really good learning experience,” Rigney says. “As missionaries and working with nationals—they’re British and we’re the only Americans—it’s been a good three years of learning the culture and learning the difference between the States and here. … Even the worldview of Christians here (is a little different).

“I’ve had to remove a lot of my Christian vernacular, even among Christians. It’s been a longer journey than I thought it would be.”

A Sending Church in Texas

Rigney attended Criswell College and served as a youth minister for a number of years before sensing a call to missions. Connection Community Church (C3) in Rowlett, Texas, embraced his desire to reach London with the gospel and served as the sending church. Over the past few years, C3 has provided financial and prayer support in addition to sending missions teams to help the Rigneys work in this global city.

Teams often conduct surveys in neighborhoods, transitioning to spiritual questions at the end in order to open gospel conversations. This past summer, a team also met practical needs in Harrow, receiving permission from the local council to beautify a park, which created a platform for the missional community to be involved in community development.

C3 Missions Pastor Mike Julian said the church is excited about the Rigneys’ focus on missional communities and church planting.

“Really, the overall goal is to plant multiple churches through missional community,” Julian said.

“I know Chad’s heart is not necessarily to be the front man for the next 10 years. His heart is to build a missional community and have a local come in and pastor that, and then go grow another missional community and have a local come in and pastor that. It’s been exciting, working with Chad, because I know he’s not in it for selfish gain. He’s in it for kingdom ministry.”

Julian hopes to mobilize church members and college students to serve alongside the Rigneys for more than a week in London.

Moving to Greenwich

Earlier this summer, God opened new doors for church planting in the city and provided the Rigneys with a London church planter’s dream—a permanent building. While visiting with a local Baptist association about their work in the city, Chad was told that a Baptist church in Greenwich had recently closed its doors and disbanded. The leadership at the association shared his vision for church planting and offered him the building, which he accepted in October.

As his family moves to Greenwich to start this new work, Rigney said he’s confident the missional community in Harrow will be in good hands, as one of the men in the group will take the lead. Rigney plans to start new missional communities in Greenwich, which dovetails into the IMB city strategy for London—one of five newly announced megacities that are being piloted as part of the mission board’s new Global Cities Initiative (see related story on this page).

In Greenwich, the Rigneys want to do their part in seeing London transformed by the gospel through planting churches. As a result, they hope this transformation will spread globally as university students and business professionals move back to their homelands as witnesses for Christ.

“We’re not here for us,” Chad says. “We’re going to exist for people who aren’t in our community yet, who aren’t Christians yet.”


SBC President Steve Gaines to speak at SBTC Bible Conference

AUSTIN SBC President Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church near Memphis, Tenn., will be the final speaker of the 2016 SBTC Bible Conference, which runs Sunday evening, Nov. 13 through Monday afternoon, Nov. 14. 

“The Holy Spirit is the power every Christian needs to take the gospel to our culture,” Gaines told the TEXAN. “With every passing day America is becoming more anti-Jesus, anti-Bible, anti-church and anti-Christian. I will preach from Acts 1:8 to show that the Spirit empowers every Christian to be a bold, compassionate gospel-sharing soul-winner.”

The theme for this year’s conference will be “The Holy Spirit,” with the theme verse Zechariah 4:6—“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.” The conference, which is free to the public, will be held at Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin and precedes the SBTC Annual Meeting, which begins Monday evening and concludes Tuesday night, Nov. 15.

“Steve Gaines is such a Spirit-filled and powerful preacher, a modern-day prophet who speaks the truth in love,” said Bible Conference president Danny Forshee, pastor of Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, which is hosting the Bible Conference and Annual Meeting, Nov. 13-15.

“I am convinced that every person who comes and listens will hear a message from the heart of God through his faithful messenger. He will tell us and show us what a Holy Spirit empowered preacher of the cross looks like. I’m very excited about him closing out our Bible Conference.”

Other speakers at the Bible Conference include: Rhys Stenner, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga.; Matt Carter, pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin; Dante Wright, pastor of Sweet Home Baptist Church in Round Rock, Texas; Juan Sanchez, pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin; and Steven Smith, preaching professor and vice president for student services at Southwestern Seminary.

For more information on the Bible Conference, including schedule, the Sunday evening Spanish session and purchasing tickets for the Ministry Café, visit  

The Greatest Chapter in the Bible

The vision for the sermons during the 2016 SBTC Annual Meeting is unique and compelling: six preachers will systematically preach through Romans 8 on the theme of the Holy Spirit. Picture a relay race in which each preacher is going to pick back up in Romans 8 where the last preacher left off. We believe this team-relay preaching through a chapter of the Bible will exalt Jesus Christ and bless the listeners, while also providing pastors with a six-part sermon series on the Holy Spirit’s work in sanctification.

The six preachers—Steven W. Smith, Dante Wright, Chris Osborne, Jim Richards, Nathan Lino, and Gregg Matte—have met with David Allen, dean of the School of Preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, to study the chapter thoroughly and plan the preaching strategy. The following is an overview of the preaching plan to help attendees understand how the sermons are both six and one.

Romans 8 carries one stream of thought that leads to the conclusion that nothing can stop us and nothing can separate us from the love of God. However, the trajectory of the chapter begins long before Chapter 8 itself. In fact, Romans 8 can be seen as the rising floodwaters of Paul’s thought flow in the book of Romans.

After Paul addresses man’s sinfulness and God’s righteousness in Chapters 1-3:20, he says, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law … the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” After discussing justification in 3:20-5:11, he picks up the idea of sanctification in 5:12-8:39. The tide of the gospel rises highest in 8:31-39, where Paul declares that nothing can separate us from God’s love. This is the massive claim of the chapter. He builds toward that claim with five ideas expressed in five units of thought, leading to the conclusion. Think about this structure:

Because of the Spirit, God will not condemn the believer. (8:1-8)

Every believer is baptized in the Spirit. (8:9-11)

We must live the way of the Spirit. (8:12-17)

Suffering we experience now is inconsequential compared to heaven. (8:18-27)

God is at work in every believer for Christlikeness. (8:28-30)

All this is too much for the mind. It’s overwhelming that God would do all of this. It leaves us breathless, wondering who can separate us from the love of God?! Paul’s answer: nothing can prevail against the Christian, and nothing can stop what God has started. This is certain because of the power of the Holy Spirit.

It’s no wonder James Montgomery Boice called Romans 8 the “greatest chapter in the Bible” and “the heart of the gospel.” While his hyperbole is noted, the chapter is powerful. Romans 8 is not just a description of where the argument of the book is going; it is where we are going as well. This is our personal trajectory because of the Spirit.

Would you take a moment to pray for the men listed above? Would you take 10 minutes and read through Romans 8? We are praying for a moment when, with unified hearts, we gather around God’s Word and ask him to help us love and appreciate the work of the Spirit more as he sanctifies us into Christ’s likeness and holds us close to the love of God.

For more information on the 2016 SBTC Annual Meeting, go to

SWBTS trustees approve new faculty, M.A. in Philosophy, media policy

FORT WORTH—The election of new faculty, approval of an M.A. in philosophy degree and clarification of the board’s media policy were among actions taken at the fall meeting of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees Oct. 19.

Seven new faculty members previously serving under appointment were elected by trustees, including Timothy Deahl as dean of the Southwestern Center for Extension Education and professor of Old Testament; Michael Crisp as assistant professor of collegiate ministry in the Jack Terry School of Church and Family Ministries; Mark Taylor as professor of conducting in the School of Church Music; Kyle Walker as assistant professor of preaching in the School of Preaching; and Hongyi Yang as assistant professor in women’s studies in the School of Theology.

Elected to the faculty of the College at Southwestern are Steven James as assistant professor of systematic theology and Katie McCoy as assistant professor of theology in women’s studies.

Trustees promoted Deron Biles to professor of pastoral ministries and preaching, Evan Lenow to associate professor of ethics and Tony Maalouf to distinguished professor of world Christianity and Middle Eastern studies.

In response to a motion presented by a messenger to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention seeking clarification from all entities, the board’s executive committee stipulated that plenary sessions are open to the media. The statement noted that committee meetings “often deal with personnel issues, pastoral concerns, sensitive donor information, and other issues,” however SWBTS President Paige Patterson said members of the media may request the opportunity to observe those sessions at the discretion of the committee chairman.

The board also approved a new 48-hour master of arts in philosophy degree, selected recipients for the B.H. Carroll and L. R. Scarborough awards, approved December graduates and received audited financial statements for the seminary and foundation. Trustees granted permission to sell property utilized for Garrett Manor Apartments located 1.2 miles south of the campus.

SBTC DR volunteers aid Hurricane Matthew victims in North and South Carolina

WALTERBORO, South Carolina—Lee and Norma Nichols breathed a sigh of relief the morning of Oct. 8. They thought they had escaped the onslaught of Hurricane Matthew relatively unscathed. They still had electrical power.

Lee Nichols even relaxed in the couple’s living room, looking up at calm trees through skylights.

Then the trees began swaying ominously.

“The winds started going and the backside [of the storm] hit us. The trees were really waving,” Nichols recalled.

Norma Nichols, a native of the region, had ridden out hurricanes before. The couple, retired IMB missionaries who served in Asia—mainly in South Korea—for more than 40 years, had elected to stay in their home. Their residence is located only a mile west of Interstate 95, on the edge of the area of recommended evacuation.

“I am almost certain the eye of the storm went right over where we were,” Norma Nichols said. When the winds turned “ferocious,” a large oak tree in the couple’s backyard was uprooted, falling into the side street of their corner lot.

City crews chopped up part of the tree but left large chunks in the street, posing a potential danger to drivers until a four-man SBTC chainsaw team from Atlanta, Texas, arrived to take care of the problem.

“The tree was within three feet of a power line,” SBTC DR white hat Jim Howard said. “We threw a line on it and pulled it out. We are trained for this.”

“They finished the job,” Norma Nichols said.

“We are most grateful to the folks from Texas,” Lee Nichols added.

Such appreciation is evident throughout the region, Howard noted. “Everywhere we go, people stop us and thank us.”  

“Our first job was to remove a tree off a day care center so they could get back open and help folks around the community by taking care of their children,” Rick Grandmaison, chainsaw unit director, said.

In another instance, the chainsaw team needed help from the local police to assist one 96-year-old resident. A policewoman had been checking on the elderly lady, Howard said. The officer had helped the lady fill out the work order for the removal of a large limb that had fallen on her home. The officer had to be called to the home to assist the victim to the door to meet the chainsaw team.

“[The lady] couldn’t hear us banging on her door,” Howard said. “She was disappointed that we had to cut the limb,” he added with a slight chuckle. “Her cats enjoyed climbing up and down it, but the officer told her that it had to go.”

To date, more than 10 chainsaw jobs have been completed and even more spiritual contacts made, Grandmaison added. “We are trying to help these people as much as we can.”

A shower unit and feeding team from Flint, Texas, was also deployed to Walterboro to offer assistance, with SBTC DR volunteers being housed at Walterboro First Baptist Church.

SBTC DR teams have also established feeding, laundry and shower operations in North Carolina, said Scottie Stice, SBTC director of disaster relief.

An SBTC feeding team of 15 has deployed to Whiteville, North Carolina, in support of a Missouri feeding unit. Meals will be distributed to the affected communities. An SBTC laundry unit was also sent to Whiteville, Stice said. Volunteers are housed at Western Prong Baptist Church.

Noting that many North Carolina rural communities are “underwater,” while others have fared better, Stice added that the Whiteville crew is “cut off by floodwaters” from Lumberton, where four SBTC volunteers are manning a laundry unit in support of the North Carolina National Guard.

The work in Lumberton marks the first time SBTC DR personnel have deployed in direct support of a National Guard unit, Stice said, requesting prayer for victims and DR volunteers in the Carolinas.

Former HBU president Doug Hodo remembered as friend of SBTC

BOERNE  Former Houston Baptist University President Edward D. (Doug) Hodo Sr. passed away Oct. 10 after a brief battle with cancer. He was 81.

Hodo served as HBU president from 1987 until his retirement in 2006, when he was named president emeritus.

Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Director Jim Richards considered Hodo as a “true friend to the SBTC.”

“Doug Hodo was the consummate Christian gentleman,” Richards said after hearing of Hodo’s passing. “He was courageous in his convictions while being kind to all. His leadership enabled Houston Baptist University to establish a ministry relationship with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. We will all miss his gracious presence until we see him again at Jesus’ feet.”

Born Nov 11, 1934 in Armory, Miss., Hodo served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956 and went on to graduate from the University of Mississippi in 1958 with a bachelor’s in business administration. He continued his studies at the school, earning both a Master of Education in Personnel Guidance and a Master of Science in Banking and Finance in 1965 and a Doctor of Philosophy in Economics and Finance in 1968.

He taught economics at Nicholls State University and Middle Tennessee State University before becoming dean of the College of Business at the University of Texas at San Antonio from 1972 to 1987.

Hodo was a faithful church member, serving as a deacon and a Bible study teacher for 60 years at Castle Hills Baptist Church in San Antonio, Second Baptist Church in Houston, and First Baptist Church in Boerne.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Sadie Branch Hodo; his children, Allison Hodo Clements of Floresville, Texas, Edward Douglas (Doug) Hodo Jr. of Boerne, and Patrick Gunter Hodo of Boerne; and 10 grandchildren.

A visitation service will be at Ebensberger-Fisher Funeral Home in Boerne, Texas, on Wed., Oct. 12, from 5-7 p.m. The funeral service will be held Thur., Oct. 13, at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Boerne. To leave condolences for the family, please visit and select the “Obituaries” tab.

Church adds Spanish service to serve families with English and Spanish speakers

FORT WORTH  When Dave Koenig planted NewBrook Church in 2014, he had a vision to see Spanish speakers in Fort Worth reached with the gospel. Now, almost two years later, Koenig said his church is starting to see that dream come to life.

When NewBrook launched, the church’s leadership hoped to reach out to the large Hispanic community around them. Koenig estimates about one-third of the population speaks Spanish in the county where the church meets.

“Where we are, there are thousands and thousands of people that Spanish is their first language, a whole community that’s not being reached as much. … The number of churches we have in Fort Worth that are reaching the English-speaking population are great, but those reaching the Spanish-speaking population are much less,” Koenig said.

Initially, most of the people who joined the church—including Koenig, who is a native English-speaker—did not speak Spanish. The congregation began hosting community events to connect with Spanish-speaking families living around the church, and through events like free movie nights during the summer, friendships developed and more families began to visit NewBrook.

However, as attendance grew, Koenig realized many of the families coming to church were split between Spanish-speaking and English-speaking members.

“The wives and the kids spoke English, and very little Spanish, but the dads and husbands were fluent in Spanish and spoke very little English. … That family can’t go to a Spanish-speaking church because the kids don’t know Spanish and the wife isn’t very fluent in Spanish, but if they go to an English-speaking church, the husband is lost.”

—Dave Koenig, church planter, NewBrook Church

“The wives and the kids spoke English, and very little Spanish, but the dads and husbands were fluent in Spanish and spoke very little English. … That family can’t go to a Spanish-speaking church because the kids don’t know Spanish and the wife isn’t very fluent in Spanish, but if they go to an English-speaking church, the husband is lost,” Koenig said.

To meet the needs of these families, NewBrook hosted its first Spanish worship service earlier this summer. The service is now held monthly and follows immediately after the regular service in English so families with both English and Spanish speakers can attend a church together.

“We’ve had Spanish speakers come to events over the past year, but now we finally have something in Spanish to invite them to. Even for people who are bilingual, it’s really important what their heart language is, their worship language. If someone is bilingual but they’re predominantly Spanish-speaking, then when they are worshipping in Spanish, that’s when they feel the most connected to God.” Koenig said.

NewBrook church is continuing to find new ways to expand its growing Spanish ministry, but it is not without dedication and a few challenges, Koenig said.

Koenig studied Spanish in college, but continues to strengthen his language skills in order to preach in the Spanish services and to more effectively reach his Hispanic neighbors.

“It’s been an incredible challenge, something that’s been exciting and fun, but it’s been challenging. I can’t exactly remove myself from the English-speaking world, but I try to immerse myself as much as I can in Spanish. I listen to Spanish radio all day. I read the Bible in Spanish now; I listen as much as I can to Spanish.” he said.

While the church is celebrating what God has done in establishing a Spanish worship service, NewBrook is still in the early stages of casting a vision for becoming a truly multi-cultural church, Koenig said. His dream is that one day NewBrook would not be “an English church that has a couple of people who speak Spanish, but we’re going to be a bilingual church.”

Despite the difficulty of language learning and cross-cultural ministry, Koenig hopes these challenges will lead to NewBrook becoming a church that better reflects the community in which God placed it.

“It’s been really exiting to see how we’ve grown to show diversity in culture and background,” he said. “That’s something people are excited about and comfortable with now, and I feel like that better reflects Revelation, where there are people from every tribe and tongue worshipping God together.”