CEDAR HILL—The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s en Español department marked a pair of firsts in April when it hosted separate retreats for senior adults and the wives of senior pastors. The retreats aimed to provide resources and minister to the physical and spiritual health of those attending.
“We have a vision to support the development of Hispanic churches in Texas in a healthy and effective way, so we are constantly looking for ways we can impact the different segments of leadership in these churches,” said Chuy Ávila, SBTC en Español lead associate. “We decided to do these events because [senior adults and pastors’ wives] are two of the most neglected groups, yet they are valuable to the body of Christ.”
Both events were held at the Mt. Lebanon Baptist Retreat Center, beginning with the Senior Adult Retreat held April 17-18. The focus of the retreat was to encourage senior adults to serve in their churches by sharing their lives and discipling younger generations.
Retreat attendees were encouraged by Jorge E. Díaz, who pastors Semilla de Mostaza Centro Familiar Internacional in El Paso and is also an author and lecturer who served at Casa Bautista de Publicaciones for 35 years. Diaz invited his listeners to accept the challenge of choosing to be happy through the renewal of the Holy Spirit. He also led the final session of the event, challenging senior adults to make disciples as they invest in the lives of others.
Fernando de Luna, pastor of First Mexican Baptist Church of Odessa, led worship, and Teodoro Perez, a pastor and humorist, led an evening of humor and dynamic activities for attendees.
The senior adult retreat also included:
- David Galvan, who retired after 40 years as senior pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Dallas and was the first Hispanic to serve as vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Galvan taught about “Managing Your Spiritual Life” (Proverbs 4:23), which included topics such as assurance of salvation, learning Christian doctrine, living an exemplary life, and establishing a systematic time for God’s Word, prayer, and evangelism.
- Frank Palos, who has an extensive background in stewardship and administration. He provided adults with information on how to be financially secure in retirement.
- Roland Johnson, senior pastor at Primera Iglesia Bautista in Keller, who spoke about Alzheimer’s disease and encouraged the audience to make changes, take precautions, and live healthier lives through exercise and nutrition.
- Hervin Antonio, who has been in ministry for 50 years and pastors Iglesia Bautista Maranata in Arlington. He talked about how senior adults can cope with the loss of a spouse by leaning on the promises of the Lord. He urged them to continue in the Lord’s work and surround themselves with family, friends, and siblings.
Come Away Pastor Wives Retreat
The retreat for the wives of senior pastors was held over three days, from March 30 to April 1. It was designed to provide a time of rest, fellowship, and training for the women.
“Pastors’ wives are … the most misunderstood because of the great burden that has been placed on their backs that they are not obligated to carry. … There are very few church members who really understand and comprehend their role in ministry,” Ávila said. “As a result, [many] isolate themselves and shut down because of their frustrations and disappointments.”
The retreat began with a concert of prayer led by Irma Ramos, who has served alongside her husband, Marcos, pastor of FBC Galena Park, for more than 40 years. Mrs. Ramos led the women in a time of worship, prayer, and confession based on Nehemiah 9:3, which shows that worshipping a holy God goes hand-in-hand with confessing sin.
Mrs. Ramos was also in charge of Friday’s campfire time, where she presented a study on “The Calling of One” based on Nehemiah and focusing on how God calls us individually.
“It was a privilege and a blessing for me to share these days with my sisters,” Mrs. Ramos said. “It was good to see some I already knew, and I was so happy to see so many young pastors’ wives.”
Clara Molina, retired teacher, speaker, and author of several books including Oh No! I Married the Pastor! shared several verses from Scripture to remind the pastors’ wives of the importance of rest. She also offered tools for the women to share the gospel.
Other speakers included:
- Zoricelis Dávila, a psychotherapist and author of several books, including I Don’t Know What’s Wrong With Me. She led a dynamic session on “Reflection of the Inner Self,” which aimed to help the pastors’ wives analyze their emotions for the purposes of creating balance and setting boundaries.
- Natalie Arzate, wife of Pastor Jose Arzate of Bridge Church in Richardson. In addition to leading worship, she taught a workshop on how to use technology in ministry.
- Diana Puente, adjunct professor at Louisiana Baptist University and wife of Pastor Juan Puente, who serves as a Send Network planter at Lakes Church in Florida. She introduced the women to various Southern Baptist Convention resources available to them. She also taught the last session, “Live the Calling,” where she talked about the calling of pastors’ wives.
- Carla Arriola, wife of Send Network SBTC Director Julio Arriola, who led conversations about the next generation and having healthy friendships.
The retreat concluded with a panel discussion featuring Ramos, Arzate, and Puente, who shared their experience as pastors’ wives and answered questions from attendees.