SBTC AM22: Lopez calls for ‘renewed commitment’ to pursuing God’s presence at Spanish session

Those gathered at the Spanish session prior to the 2022 Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Annual Meeting reach out their hands in prayer as a missionary is commissioned. SBTC PHOTO

CORPUS CHRISTI—They worshipped through song and proclaimed the Word of God. They commissioned. They recognized faithful ministry service. They prayed.

The statewide call for Southern Baptists of Texas Convention churches to pursue the presence of God began here at the American Bank Center Sunday night during the Spanish session preceding the beginning of the 2022 annual meeting.

In his exposition of Deuteronomy 13:4, Luis Lopez—director of Hispanic relations and mobilization for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee—brought a revitalizing and challenging message to the Hispanic pastors and church leaders present.

Lopez called for a renewed commitment to pursue God’s presence “until He calls us into His presence.” Pursuing His presence, Lopez said, assures followers of Jesus they are going in the right direction. He added that there is much work left for the church to do and that it cannot get there without being connected to God. That connection will naturally drive the church toward reaching the lost and having compassion for others, he said.

“I am here to encourage you to seek God’s presence and consecrate ourselves as we have never done,” Lopez said, “[so] that in our last days on Earth, Jesus will find us praying, serving others, and longing to serve the Lord.”

Celebrating what God has done through the Cooperative Program

Among the accomplishments celebrated during the first session, Chuy Ávila, SBTC en Español lead associate, and Jesse Contreras, SBTC en Español associate, reported that more than 500 lay leaders and pastors were trained in discipleship, leadership, and other ministries through the regional “Capacitarte” conference in 2022. Ávila also noted that for the first time, a session was held entirely in Spanish at the Equip Conference, drawing capacity crowds. The annual “Florece” (Flourish) retreat for women and the “Hombres de Impacto” (Men of Impact) men’s retreat drew around 600 people each. The SBTC provided training and enrichment to women around Texas through the “She Stands” conferences and fellowship meetings for pastors’ wives.

Youth Week had a victory, seeing 450 students attend—of which about 50 gave their lives to Christ or reaffirmed their faith. They also celebrated victories in evangelism, led by Bruno Molina, who testified that more than 1,000 people have been trained to evangelize and in excess of 100 people have come to Christ.

Luis Lopez preaches about pursuing the presence of God during the Spanish session prior to the 2022 Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Annual Meeting in Corpus Christi. SBTC PHOTO

SBTC partnership with Send Network bearing fruit

This year, the SBTC and Send Network started a partnership that led to the most Hispanic churches being planted since 2005. The first combined national English and Spanish evaluation retreat was held, and the first class of Spanish planter residency graduates is already planting. Planters and their spouses from the southern region of the U.S. were taken to a retreat with Send Network in Miami for a time of encouragement and training.

New planter commissioned

Ávila said it is his prayer—and something SBTC en Español hopes can become a tradition—to commission a new church planter to start a Hispanic work in each location where the SBTC Annual Meeting is held. On this occasion, God has called Ruben de Rus, along with his wife, Azucena, and their children, to plant a Hispanic work in Corpus Christi. The de Rus family was commissioned and prayed for as part of the Spanish session Sunday evening.

“The Hispanic community here is very large, and we didn’t have a Hispanic work in this city,” Ávila said. Through the SBTC and North American Mission Board, de Rus and his family have been mentored and equipped to start the first Hispanic Baptist church in Corpus Christi. Ávila encouraged all those present, and as many churches as possible, to support the new work in some way, either by committing to pray for them, supporting them financially, or by doing short-term missionary work to support the new church.

Ministerial legacy recognition

Mike Gonzales, former director of SBTC’s en Español department, recognized and presented a plaque to Pastor Marcos Ramos and his wife, Irma, for their ministerial faithfulness in Texas and at First Baptist Church of Galena Park for the last 20 years.


Arlene Sanabria
Southern Baptist Texan
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