New Mexico church majors on prayer, evangelism

AZTEC, N.M. (BP)—“It is so simple,” says Pastor Mike Napier. “It’s prayer and evangelism. That’s all that it is. Everything that is happening is the power of God’s Spirit moving in our midst.”

As of mid-December, First Baptist Aztec, where about 200 people gather for Sunday morning worship, has baptized 244 people since Napier was called as pastor in late 2018.

“This is a prayer movement. A movement of the Holy Spirit,” the pastor said.

First Aztec has at least one prayer group that gathers to pray each day, Sunday through Thursday. Every other month First Aztec also has a “Tuesday Time of Prayer.” The church opens its doors on those Tuesdays between 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. specifically for prayer. Sometimes those who come are asked to pray for specific items in the life of the church. Other times people read Scripture out loud and pray.

“It is significant that we have groups of people at the church praying Sunday through Thursday,” the pastor said. “This is the reason we are seeing souls saved and lives changed. Prayer is the foundation for what is happening in our church and in this region. It’s all the power of God.”

First Aztec also utilizes “Worship Center Intercessors,” (WCI) developed by Napier. Each WCI has a section in the 250-seat worship center. At some point during the week WCIs come individually to the church and pray over their section. They pray over their section again before the worship service starts Sunday morning and after it, engage with people they do not yet know who sit in their section.

The WCIs are trained to approach people they do not know and engage them with three questions: “I’m still getting to know everyone here; is this your first time?” Second: “What brought you here today?” And the third question: “How can I pray for you right now?”

“And then they pray right then with the person,” Napier said. “God continues to use this in fantastic ways.”

Psalm 107:1-3 is the foundation of the Worship Center Intercessors’ ministry.

“This passage tells us we have been set free from the power of the enemy and we need to tell our story,” the pastor said. “Yet we also have the responsibility to pray for others to be set free and drawn to the Father. We must pray for people to be drawn from the North, South, East and the West. This is a large part of what we pray over the seats in the worship center.

“It’s all unleashed through prayer,” Napier continued. “We are asking our Father for souls to be saved and for lives to be changed. We are praying for people whom we have never seen before to fill these chairs. We already know we are praying His will. This is why Jesus came: ‘to seek and to save the lost.’”

Sunday School is the hub of life at First Aztec, the pastor said.

“That’s where relationships are formed and where ministry happens. People are ministered to and have the opportunity to minister to others. Sunday School is a great place for discipleship to happen as we do life together. Sunday School is also where people discover a place to serve in the life of the church and its five functions: discipleship, ministry, evangelism, fellowship and worship.”

First Baptist Aztec has grown from four adult Sunday School classes to 11 since 2018, and provides two morning worship services to allow for growth.

“We have discipleship classes on Sunday and Wednesday nights. We offer a variety of classes so people can grow alongside others in their relationship with God,” the pastor said. “It’s so cool to see that ‘Aha!’ moment. I’ve had people say, ‘In this top part of the Bible it says Matt. 2:7. What does that mean?’ They know nothing. These are adults who have never been taught the basics. They just don’t know. It’s so exciting to see adults get it.”

The church has a guest reception area overseen by deacons and their wives. WCIs direct first-time guests there to pick up their “favorite Coke and candy bar.” They also receive a mug with the church’s logo on it, and Napier engages in conversation and prayer with each guest. During this time an appointment is arranged. The pastor meets with the guest at their home or the church office, and shares the Gospel with them.

Among First Baptist Aztec’s local ministries are a funeral ministry and a ministry to the public school. The church conducts funerals and provides a meal for the family after the funeral/memorial service at no cost.

“This is such a great ministry to unchurched and unreached people,” Napier said. “We have seen people become followers of Christ through this ministry. It brings such hope at a very hard time.”

Napier, who has 15 years of law enforcement experience, serves as a chaplain for the San Juan County Sheriff’s office. Two deputies, members of First Aztec, have surrendered to the gospel ministry, are attending college on-line and being discipled by Napier.

First Aztec has had a part in starting four churches: two in Aztec, one on the Navajo reservation, and one in Phoenix. The church gives more than 20 percent of its offerings to missions, including 8 percent through the Cooperative Program and 2 percent to San Juan Baptist Association.

“I have been a pastor and served on convention staff,” Napier said. “I have seen how our Cooperative Program dollars are utilized. I have attended Southwestern Baptist and Golden Gate [now Gateway] seminaries. I have served alongside IMB missionaries on several international mission trips. I love the Cooperative Program.

“I’ve seen what the Cooperative Program does. I’ve seen the impact it has on lostness.”

This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.

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