Doing the Father’s business
Pastoral ministry has always been a close part of Eduardo “Eddie” Lopez’s life. He grew up the son of a pastor and watched as many others in his extended family answered God’s call to preach.
That may have been good for them, but Lopez had other plans for his life. He always wanted to be an entrepreneur.
“Ask me for anything you want,” Lopez recalled saying to God during a time of prayer many years ago, “except to be a pastor.”
But as Lopez started down the road of entrepreneurship, he felt a void that his business pursuits could not fill. That void, he came to understand, stemmed from his running from what he knew was God’s will for his life—to serve in the pastoral ministry.
“The Lord allowed me to fulfill all my dreams to show me that none of that will fill my life,” Lopez said.
Lopez ultimately answered God’s call to pastoral ministry and dedicated three years to preparing himself for service. It was during that time he received a call from the missions pastor at First Baptist Church of Forney, who presented him with a proposal to start a Hispanic church. Forney, located about 25 miles east of Dallas, has a population of about 24,000 people—20% of whom are Hispanic.
The dream of planting a Hispanic church began when FBC Forney Senior Pastor Jimmy Pritchard, who passed away in 2021, saw the need to minister to a group of Hispanic believers working in the church kitchen. Those workers were given Bible study materials through a Hispanic missionary who had come to the church, but Pritchard felt like they needed more than study aids.
They needed a pastor who spoke their language.
“When I met the senior pastor, he knew right away that I was the person God was calling to start the Hispanic work in Forney,” Lopez said.
Lopez served alongside his wife, Zoila, whom he describes as an “unconditional help and essential piece” of his life and ministry. The Hispanic group began meeting in a chapel owned by FBC Forney that accommodated about 50 people. With his wife at his side, Lopez did a little bit of everything, from leading worship to teaching. He also began working with the Hispanic group in the church kitchen, gaining their trust and teaching them to invite their lost friends to their personal get-togethers.
“It is easier for [lost people] to come to a celebration than to church,” Lopez would tell them. In this way, when Lopez attended the church members’ activities, he introduced himself as the pastor of the Hispanic church and became friends with them. This, in turn, opened the door to share the gospel. Many began giving their lives to Christ, and the new Hispanic church began to grow.
Today, missions and multiplication are the focus for Lopez and FBC Forney en Español. However, Lopez said his concern is not on multiplying the number of church members. Instead, his focus is on planting churches and extending its gospel reach for the benefit of the kingdom.
“In our church there are two types of people: the one who goes [to the mission field] and the one who sends [missionaries],” said Lopez, who was recently elected vice president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. This missional mindset, he added, helps members spend more time in their lives focused on others rather than themselves.
One of the opportunities the Lord has given the congregation to focus on others in the community is through an annual outreach event called Celebrando la Herencia Hispana (Celebrating Hispanic Heritage). As part of the event, the church invites community members of various nationalities—not only Hispanics, but also Asians, Indians, and others—to fellowship and sample snacks from different countries. The event has been so well received that the English- and Spanish-speaking congregations at FBC Forney have committed to jointly host the event next year.
Beyond reaching people in their own back yard, Lopez said FBC Forney en Español has planted three churches in the Metroplex cities of Dallas, Seagoville, and Mesquite.
Additionally, God has opened the doors for the church to operate an international ministry called “Semilla de Vida” (Seed of Life) in Mexico. The ministry offers free support to marginalized churches that do not have the financial resources to continue preaching the gospel and training to pastors and their families. Forney en Español provides resources for three churches in very remote villages in Mexico and has also supported congregations in Cuba and Puerto Rico.
“As pastors, we sometimes doubt what God is calling us to do,” said Lopez, who owns a restaurant in nearby Sunnyvale in addition to pastoring. “But if God has called us, He will provide all the resources and people for the right time.”