Pastor who answered God’s call at a young age is investing in East Texas Hispanic community

Fernando Mangieri serves as campus pastor for Green Acres Baptist Church’s Español campus.

The Power of YES

Fernando Mangieri made a lifelong commitment to serve the Lord after answering two questions most children are never asked:

“Are you willing to die for Jesus? Are you willing to leave everything for Him?” 

Mangieri—9 years old at the time—answered those questions, posed by missionaries speaking to a group of children at a retreat, with a definitive “yes.”

At that moment, he says he began to feel a strong need to share Christ with others not only around him, but around the world. That’s the foundation of the mission to which God has called him today as he serves as campus pastor for Green Acres Baptist Church’s Español campus. 

Green Acres en Español began on Sept. 17, 2023, with a handful of people and a Bible study that met on the main church campus. The number of attendees rapidly grew, and before long the group moved to a larger room and began planning to launch a worship service that would become a full-fledged Spanish-speaking campus.

Six months after launching, around 250 people are attending Sunday services. About 30 people have been baptized, responding to the church’s motto of “Transforming lives with the truth of Jesus” and its core values of connecting people to Jesus and His church, growing in His likeness, and multiplying to expand the kingdom.  

“God called us to start a healthy congregation that can impact Tyler and East Texas with a multicultural and multigenerational approach,” Mangieri said. 

“When God has a plan for your life, He’s going to fulfill it.”

Putting his ‘yes’ to the test

Mangieri was born and raised in Argentina and grew up in the cradle of pastors. His father has served as a pastor for 60 years, his uncles are pastors, and his three brothers are pastors, as well. 

But at age 8, Mangieri came to understand that being raised in a family of pastors would not save him. That is when his Bible school teacher guided him to recognize his own sin and receive Christ. His encounter with the missionaries happened the next year, propelling him into the Lord’s service.

In 2000, Mangieri moved to Juarez, located in Chihuahua—the largest state in Mexico. His years in Juarez marked a significant season in his life: He studied at seminary, served in local churches, and met his wife, Marcela. They had two of their three children while living there. 

Juarez was also where the “yes” he gave to the Lord many years earlier was put to the test. At one point, drug traffickers began lobbing death threats toward him and his family as they ministered to the people of the city. In desperation, Mangieri cried out to the Lord. The answer he said he got back from God came in the form of questions—the very same ones posed to him as a child:

“Are you willing to die for Jesus? Are you willing to leave everything for Him?”

“Yes, Lord,” Mangieri recalls reaffirming to God, “I am willing to die for you. Lord, everything I have is yours.” He was then reminded of Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations ….”

Mangieri and his family are honored during a recent pastor appreciation event.

As Mangieri and his family learned to wait and rest in God’s presence amid worry and persecution, He opened a door for them to serve Baptist churches in Virginia. It was evident to the family that God was at work, as they were miraculously granted U.S. residency within 48 hours.

“When God has a plan for your life, He’s going to fulfill it,” Mangieri said.

From 2008-2018, Mangieri was a church planter and catalyst in Virginia, developing churches and leaders. After a decade of service there, God began to plant in the hearts of Mangieri and his wife a new vision for ministry. They began to pray and seek the Lord’s direction, turning down several ministry offers before accepting a call to serve as associate Hispanic pastor at a large church in the Dallas area.

They remained there four years—until Mangieri sensed the Lord calling him back into church planting. Before long, Green Acres in Tyler reached out to ask if he would help start a Hispanic work in East Texas.

A women’s event at Green Acres en Español drew a large number of attendees. SUBMITTED PHOTO

A calling stronger than comfort

Leaving the stability of a strong and well-established church for the uncertainty of starting one from scratch didn’t make sense to many, Mangieri said. But to him, leaving comfort for potential discomfort was part of his childhood commitment to give everything to Jesus. 

“We were comfortable, happy, and serving strongly where we were,” Mangieri said, “but my desire to plant churches was stronger than stability and comfort.”

None of those God had called to the planting work in Tyler were alone. Green Acres sought guidance and support from Send Network SBTC—a church planting partnership between the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the North American Mission Board. Send Network SBTC provided resources and training to help Mangieri become a certified and commissioned church planter. He now helps the network evaluate prospective planters as part of its evaluation team.

Green Acres en Español desires to be what Mangieri calls a “glocal” church—one with a vision to reach not only its local community, but people around the globe. To do that, the church knows it must multiply leaders, which is why it recently began a Bible institute to develop leaders. 

From the very beginning, the church has worked hard to reach out to its community. As it prepared to launch, it held a school supply drive that attracted nearly 3,000 people. Plans are in the works to offer classes to teach people to speak English, as well as hosting a recovery program in Spanish. God has also opened doors for Mangieri to talk about the church’s ministry on a popular local radio station, and he appears once per month on a well-known Hispanic television station. 

“We want to be the church of the city and the pastor of the city,” Mangieri said. “God is allowing us to be impactful for the transformation of the Hispanic community by having a presence outside of the four walls to introduce them to Christ.”

Arlene Sanabria
Southern Baptist Texan
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