Galván closes chapter on faithful pastoral ministry after four decades

David and Elvia Galván

GARLAND—This Christmas had special meaning for David Galván, the pastor of the bilingual church Nueva Vida/New Life Baptist Church located in this community on the outskirts of Dallas. After serving as pastor in this church for 40 years, together with his wife Elvia, he transitioned into retirement. 

Galván also planted El Buen Pastor Church in East Texas for two years, through First Baptist Dallas, where he also planned two Christmas celebrations, which gave him a total of 42 Christmas celebrations as a pastor proclaiming the incarnation of Jesus Christ.   

Galván’s ministerial life is based upon building up the church by preaching the word of God and training and empowering believers to serve the Lord according to their abilities and their God-given spiritual gifts. This determination is the result of his faith in the truth of Ephesians 4:11-12 which says, “And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.” With this same confidence, Galván is praying his life Bible verses—Proverbs 3:5-6—for the next man who will lead the church: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

The Galvan family

On Nov. 14, Nueva Vida celebrated Galván’s 40th anniversary during a special service. Various Baptist leaders attended the celebration and presented Galván with plaques of recognition. Among them was Dr. Ryan Jespersen from the Dallas Baptist Association (DBA) and Dr. Bruno Molina from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC).

Galván is missions-driven and has generously supported the Cooperative Program through his church. When hospitalized with a critical case of COVID, he used oxygen so he could continue to preach. He has made a full recovery and continues to faithfully serve God. Nueva Vida currently has about 700 active members serving with Galván, supporting Great Commission efforts through local and international missionaries in El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guinea Bissau in Africa, New Mexico, Texas, and in Israel through its monthly support.

Galván graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Pan American University, now the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) and earned a master’s degree from Criswell College in Dallas. He is the author of several books, The Group Growth Strategy and the Discipleship Manual, written in both English and Spanish. Galván has made two missionary trips to the Middle East: one to southern Israel while working on a replica of the Tabernacle, and three trips to Jordan while one of his daughters was serving as a missionary there. He says he is in love with Israel, God’s holy land.

In 1997, Galván was the first Hispanic to be named vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). He also served as vice president of the SBTC from 2002 to 2004. He has been vice president of various Baptist conventions in Mexico, part of the committee for the SBC Pastors Conference, and mediator for the Executive Committee. From 1998 to 2006, he served on the Board of Directors of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and was its president for two years. Galván has been serving on the Criswell College Board of Directors for the past 12 years.

Galván and Elvia celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary this past year, and he said that he has been blessed because “God has given me a beautiful wife and a true helpmate.” They have three daughters and one son, Jonathan, who serves at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. These four children have given the Galváns 17 grandchildren.

The Galváns also started a private Christian school in 1983, New Life Christian Academy, with the goal of training young Christians in the highest principles of Christian leadership, self-discipline, individual responsibility, personal integrity, good citizenship, morality, and Christian behavior.

In his favorite ministry story, Galván tells how he was once was having “a pity party” and said to himself, “This church doesn’t deserve me.” As he entered a Christian store, he saw a frame on the wall on which Psalm 100:2 was inscribed: “Serve the Lord with gladness.”

“In those moments, the Holy Spirit filled me with conviction and immediately, seeing the biblical verse, while my eyes were shedding tears, I asked God for forgiveness for my ineptness,” Galván said. “I thanked God for his mercy, because he called me to be his son, and because I had and still have the privilege of serving him in his vineyard.” He said that since that day, his life changed and has never been the same.

Galván’s greatest advice to God’s servants is to, “Serve the Lord with joy,” keeping in mind Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:10 stating, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain.

Clara Molina
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