Author: Russell Lightner

25 years of answered prayer with Juan Sanchez

In November, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention will mark 25 years of answered prayer at its Annual Meeting at Cross City Church in Euless. Each month until then, the Texan will feature a brief conversation with past SBTC presidents about how they have seen God answer their prayers for the convention over the past quarter century and how they are praying God will bless the convention moving forward. This month, we feature past SBTC president Juan Sanchez (2017-2019).

What were some of your earliest prayers for the SBTC?

When I came to pastor in Texas in 2005, I was greeted by a mailout from the SBTC warning that the two greatest dangers facing us and our gospel reach were universalism and Calvinism. Frankly, it made me not want to be a part of the convention. My first prayers were asking God for wisdom if we should even be a part. But that prompted me to begin praying that the Lord would open the eyes of SBTC leaders that we have one mission together—to see unbelieving people come to faith in Jesus Christ and become true worshipers of the Father. My earliest prayers were for unity around the mission of the church, knowing we can do more together than we can apart and that our convention would realize that all of us who believe the same gospel have a lot more in common that we realize. So, rather than leave the SBTC, I decided we would lean in.

“We are in a war against the enemy for the souls of men, women, and children. As we fight this war together, we will bring glory to God.”

How have you seen God answer some of your prayers regarding the convention? 

The Lord answered our prayers in clear ways very quickly. He allowed us to establish relationships with SBTC leaders and pastors who do not share our [church’s] Calvinism but share our passion to reach unbelievers. Those relationships allowed us to build trust. That trust led to increased participation in the convention. We no longer felt like we were a threat, but we genuinely felt like a part of the convention. Over the years, it has been a joy to see how the Lord has knit our hearts together as Southern Baptists in Texas pursuing the glory of Christ by fulfilling the Great Commission together.

During your service as president, how were you praying for the convention? 

My prayers as president were not that different. I prayed that SBTC pastors and churches would realize we can do more together than we can in isolation; that we don’t need to be suspicious of one another; that so long as we ground our ministry in the sufficiency of Scripture, we can honor the Lord and fulfill our ministry.

What is your prayer for the next 25 years of the SBTC?

Now, more than ever, I pray that the Lord would remind Southern Baptists in Texas that we who believe the gospel and trust in the sufficiency of the inerrant Word of God are in a war, not with each other but against the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. We are in a war against the enemy for the souls of men, women, and children. As we fight this war together, we will bring glory to God.

Spreading the flame of revival

Spreading the flame of revival

Over the past few months, we have seen God do some amazing things in churches all over our state. I have heard story after story from pastors who have experienced a fresh move of the Holy Spirit because they are leading their congregations to pray. Many of these churches are experiencing congregational repentance and reconciliation. Some are seeing record salvations and baptisms, while others are seeing marriages restored and miraculous healing. All these pastors have confessed that the only thing they have changed in their ministry is that they are intentionally leading their people to pray.  

 My singular desire as the president of this great convention is to lead our churches to pray. I am begging the Lord to send revival and spiritual awakening to our churches and communities. You see, revival is what happens to believers when God brings us to a place of brokenness. This leads us to repentance, resulting in a fresh outpouring of His Spirit in us. 

Pastor Bill Elliff says, “To ‘revive’ literally means to ‘bring to life again.’ It is a word for the church, for you cannot ‘revive’ what has not once been ‘vived!’” Revival is the byproduct of the Holy Spirit bringing back spiritual vitality to the church. J.I. Packer said it like this: “Revival is the visitation of God which brings to life Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God’s near presence and holiness.” 

Without a revived church, we will not see a spiritual awakening in our culture.

Revival in the church will lead to a spiritual awakening in our communities. Spiritual awakening is what happens to unbelievers when the Holy Spirit moves in power through His church. It’s when He moves with such a manifestation of His presence that unbelievers are supernaturally and powerfully awakened to the saving power of Jesus and their need for Him. When a spiritual awakening occurs, you see lost people in a geographical region come to saving faith in Jesus in exponential numbers, resulting in a rapid expansion of God’s kingdom. It should be the heart cry of every follower of Jesus to see God move in power like this. Without a revived church, we will not see a spiritual awakening in our culture. Andrew Murray, a great prayer warrior, said, “A revived church is the only hope of a dying world.” 

We must become a praying convention. Many churches have replaced prayer with programs and many pastors are leading by the systems of man and not the Spirit of God. We need a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit that comes by prayer and prayer alone. We are told that when we call upon His name, He hears us and will answer us. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” If this is true (and we know that God’s Word is always true), then let’s seek Him, let’s pursue Him, and let’s call on His name with all our hearts! 

I want to encourage you to share your prayer stories with other pastors and church leaders. Keep telling the stories of God’s movement to fan the flame of revival. As Elliff says, “Spread the fame of revival to spread the flame of revival.” 

Barber reflects on his first year as SBC president and the work that lies ahead

‘I’ve really learned about the faithfulness of God and his people’

What are a few things you feel Southern Baptists can celebrate as we prepare for this year’s annual meeting?

Bart Barber: We’ve had very high giving to Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong. Cooperative Program receipts are strong. That may seem mundane because we take these offerings every year, but there’s nothing mundane about the cooperation of Southern Baptists to fund missionary work around the world. I think we can also celebrate the fact our churches have led a lot of people to Christ. The reports I get from around the convention are of a lot of churches that are experiencing some renewed vitality. I know we’ve seen that at First Baptist Farmersville. I’ve been to all six of our seminary campuses, and when you meet those people who are studying and preparing to go into ministry, it gets you excited for the future. Our ministries are doing the things we’ve tasked them to do, and that’s worth celebrating.

What are some of the key areas you feel we, as Southern
Baptists, still have work to do that can begin in New Orleans? 

BB: One of the things I think we’ve seen over the course of this year is that there’s a good bit of uncertainty and a lack of clarity in the way our Bylaw 8 procedure works with regard to doctrinal objections to churches and [their affiliation with] the SBC. Our governing documents, in an effort to keep the peace in our cooperative, deliberately have been worded in such a way that they [vaguely] talk about close identification with the Baptist Faith and Message. I affirm the efforts that were made in that to try to build as good a base for cooperation as could be built, but I do think nobody really knows what that means. The challenge of that is, now we have a process that has a credentials committee and they have to know what it means in order to do their work. 

Everybody has a different idea about what they think our governing documents call for. So I think we’re going to have an opportunity to do work to make those procedures and the ideas behind them clear, understandable, and consistent so everybody knows we’re operating fairly, that we’re operating in a way that preserves the core
theological distinctions that hold us together as Southern Baptists, while also preserving the latitude for cooperation that makes us able to harness and use the resources and energy of a broad coalition of churches for the work of the Great Commission.

"Though the culture seems to be sliding further away from biblical truth, I think that’s also opening opportunities for the gospel. ... That’s been the story of spiritual awakening over and over in the United States. It was in times of great darkness and indifference to the gospel that people had a hunger and a yearning for something more.

What has the past year taught you personally
and in your role as SBC president?

BB: One thing I have learned is how much work it is to be president of the SBC. The people who’ve served in this role before … I appreciated them, but I didn’t appreciate them enough. It’s a job that requires a lot of attention and effort. I’d say another thing I have learned is the excellence and dedication with which the staff at the SBC Executive Committee works to help the ministries of the SBC operate and work well. I have leaned hard on them for so much of the work I’ve done. 

Personally, this has been a year with a lot of struggle and difficulty in terms of health things in my extended family. Also, I’ve got a 20-year-old and a 16-year-old, and I have learned how important it is for me to hang up the phone and ignore the SBC for a little bit and pay attention to them. I’ve had to sort out some priorities and make sure to tend to those things.

I’ve also really learned about the faithfulness of God and His people. There have been so many times I’ve been scared about things. That interview with 60 Minutes—I was terrified about that. I’ve never done anything like that before. That put me in front of a whole lot of different people. What if I mess up? That would’ve been easy to do. But there was an army of people who prayed for me about that. My church prayed for me. Friends prayed for me. People who didn’t know me but who care about the SBC prayed about that, and I saw God respond to those prayers and carry me through that. It’s so reassuring to see that it never really was about what I was able to do. It was about what God could do to carry me through it.

How can we amplify the voice of the SBC to speak into a culture that seems to be sliding further away from biblical truth? 

BB: I think ultimately, the headquarters of SBC work is the local church, and the best work we can do is help Southern Baptists to speak—not to speak for Southern Baptists. Our seminaries are doing excellent work to equip people to be able to address the issues that are before us in the world. We amplify our voice through the work done by institutions like the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission as questions come up before the Supreme Court to advocate for traditional gender roles, traditional marriage, pro-life concerns, and religious liberty. The Texas Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee does a great job with this also. 

Though the culture seems to be sliding further away from biblical truth, I think that’s also opening opportunities for the gospel. We are seeing how many people are harmed by the movement of culture, the family, education, and law and society away from biblical truth. We believe those things because God gave them to us, but we also believe those things lead to healthy societies, healthy families, healthy people. That’s been the story of spiritual awakening over and over in the United States. It was in times of great darkness and indifference to the gospel that people had a hunger and a yearning for something more. I think the best way we amplify our voice is to share the gospel with people in our community who are lost and to help them see Jesus is the answer.

"I’m not saying we can’t ever have a difference of opinion and I’m not saying we can’t address real issues whenever they arise. But I think for us to be stronger than ever before, we’re going to have to become people who are more excited about and more interested in the things we achieve when we cooperate than we are about things that divide us."

In 10 years, if Southern Baptists are able to say they are stronger at that point in history than ever before, what would have had to have happened between now and then?

BB: One, I think we’re going to have to help our local churches address sexual abuse in ways that are more effective than we’ve done in the past. We’re incurring expenses that are not related to [fulfilling the Great Commission] to address sexual abuse now. [Those expenses] arise out of failures to address sexual abuse in an effective way, either in prevention or in ministering to those who have been affected. So it protects the financial future of the SBC for us to address this in a way that’s strong and effective.

Secondly, I think we’re going to have to embrace a clear and shared vision for cooperation in the SBC. We’re going to need to develop an appetite in which the most interesting personalities and the most interesting statements—however they come, from the pulpit or from social media or whatever else—are not the things that are the harshest and most severe, but instead that … excite us to look and see what we’re able to do when we cooperate. I’m not saying we can’t ever have a difference of opinion and I’m not saying we can’t address real issues whenever they arise. But I think for us to be stronger than ever before, we’re going to have to become people who are more excited about and more interested in the things we achieve when we cooperate than we are about things that divide us.

Southern Baptists of Texas 


Monday, June 12 (after evening session)

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Rooms 206-207

Maximizing your life

Years ago, I read a poem by missionary C.T. Studd that includes a line that has always stayed with me: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” 

Life is super busy for our family right now. On top of living out our calling in our jobs, we have four children we are constantly chauffeuring to this event or that meeting. There rarely seems to be any margin for down time. However, if we are to maximize our lives, we must keep things in the right perspective and order our priorities. 

I recently preached the funeral of a 35-year-old man. As I ministered to the family and watched the heartbreak they were experiencing, I was reminded that all of us have only one life to live. As Studd reminds us, the only things that matter are the things done for Christ. If I want my life to truly be maximized, I must be diligent to stay faithful to the things that matter. Allow me to remind us all of several things in our lives that should be priorities:

Spend time with the Lord

If I am not disciplined and diligent, the demands and commitments of the day can rob me of my time with the Lord. Nothing should take a higher priority than meeting with our Lord each day in His Word and in prayer. I am a better man, husband, father, leader, and friend when I am consistently spending time with the Lord. Maximizing my life for the things that really matter must begin here.

Invest in your family

The scope of your ministry will always pale in comparison to the investment you make in your family. Outside of your personal time with the Lord, there is nothing greater you can invest in than your family. One day we will retire from our jobs or ministry positions and be quickly replaced. However, no one can ever be my kids’ dad again. It is imperative that I invest time discipling my family, teaching them to walk in the ways of God.

Serve with gratefulness

A few weeks ago during my time with the Lord, I was reminded in Paul’s letter to the Colossians that we work for the Lord, not the approval of men. Whatever your calling from the Lord is, serve with joy and gratitude. He has blessed you with the specific opportunity you are in. Give it all you have for His glory and remember that you are living on mission.

Leave it all on the field

My boys are athletes. We always tell them that no matter the results, they should leave it all on the field. Simply put, give all you have while you have the opportunity. In our lives, we should leave it all on the field for the Lord. When we come to the end of our days, we should be able to feel confident we gave our very best to the Lord. 

“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Let this sink in and impact your life. Allow this truth to help you navigate priorities in the busyness of life. I want to make my life count for Him. I know you do as well. Let’s do it! I am honored to serve you! 

5 minutes with Carlos Hinojos

Carlos Hinojos recently completed his seventh year as pastor of Redbud Baptist Church in Lubbock. He has previously served congregations in the Rio Grande Valley, working as an associate pastor and church planter affiliated with First Baptist Church in McAllen. After a stint as a high school program coordinator in Plainview, Hinojos came to Redbud in 2016. He and his wife, Sylvia, have been married 37 years and have four adult children, three grandchildren, and two foster grandchildren. Hinojos is a member of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Board.

What is something you’ve been able to celebrate at your church recently?

On a personal level, I would say my seven-year anniversary, which is exciting for us. … But [regarding] the church, our prayer ministry that we launched right before COVID … it’s something the church had not done before. The church had a regular Wednesday night prayer service, but corporate prayer—just praying for our community, praying for the lost, praying for each other, and all kinds of things at the corporate level—had not been done here. We launched that in January 2019. We started out with a group of about six men and there was already a group of about six women who had been praying. … That developed into the prayer ministry. … Then COVID hit in 2020. That’s been really helpful to the church, even after COVID.

What have been some of the biggest challenges in your ministry lately? 

Keeping the church focused on the mission. For us, our vision is very simple: we are a going church, growing disciples. We focus on making disciples, training, and equipping our people to make disciples and to lead people to Christ. The challenge is to keep focused on that when so many things come our way, even good things. 

What’s one lesson you’ve learned to this point of your ministry that you know you’ll never forget? 

One of my biggest lessons I’ve learned in my years of ministry has been to wait on God—waiting on Him, yet walking with Him at the same time. … My tendency is to get out ahead of God  and to do things and to orchestrate things, because I’m a doer. I’m a make-things-happen kind of person. I’ve learned that anytime I get out ahead of God, I literally mess things up. 

What’s one thing you want to see God do specifically in your church this year?

We are really praying for an awakening and a revival at Redbud. That is what the groups who are praying are asking God—awaken us. Awaken our church and bring revival. Bring us to the place where you do something so supernatural in us that it can only be explained by the hand of God in our midst. Let that spill over into our community of Lubbock, Texas. 

How can other SBTC churches be praying for you?

Pray for that awakening and revival. There are great churches in Lubbock, but there’s always room for another church to do more. There’s not enough of us to do it all.

Iglesia de Brownsville inicia servicios en inglés y español para conectar brecha generacional

Amedida que crece la población hispana en los Estados Unidos, surgen nuevos retos. Por ejemplo, cada vez más niños y adolescentes de hogares hispanos mejoran sus conocimientos de inglés, pero no desarrollan o incluso pierden sus conocimientos nativos de español. 

Como resultado, en muchos hogares hispanos de EE.UU., los padres hablan poco inglés y sus hijos hablan poco o nada de español. Esta realidad ha creado un entorno en dónde muchos padres—y la iglesia—luchan por conectar con la generación más joven. 

Estos retos son los que impulsaron a Manuel Martínez, pastor de la Iglesia Bautista Logos en Brownsville, a iniciar un ministerio hispano en inglés. 

“A los jóvenes hispanos de segunda y tercera generación les cuesta conectar con las iglesias de habla hispana porque no dominan el español. Por eso muchos abandonan la iglesia justo después de la Escuela Superior,” dice Martínez, quien ha sido formado por la subcultura hispanoamericana.

Nacido en Matamoros (México), Martínez se trasladó a Carolina del Norte cuando tenía 6 años. Cuando empezó a ir a la escuela, el inglés se convirtió en su lengua materna, pero mantuvo su capacidad para hablar español porque era el idioma que se hablaba en casa. Comenzó a trabajar a los 15 años para ayudar a mantener a su familia, que incluía a su madre y dos hermanas pequeñas. Su padre llegó a Estados Unidos para vivir con la familia, pero los padres de Martínez se separaron cuando él tenía 17 años. 

Siguieron años de dificultades. Tras la separación, su padre fue deportado y su madre se volvió a casar y regresó a México, dejando a Martínez con sus dos hermanas, que ahora dependían de él. El abandono, la presión económica, problemas en pasadas relaciones y su situación migratoria le llevaron a una época muy oscura en dónde sufrió con una depresión y pensamientos suicidas. 

Durante esta temporada de la vida de Martínez, un hombre llamado Carlos, quien es el encargado del mantenimiento de la iglesia de su abuela, Iglesia Bautista West Brownsville, vino a visitarlo. Él compartió el evangelio con Martínez, de 18 años, quien entregó su vida a Cristo. En West Brownsville, Martínez fue discipulado por el pastor Carlos Navarro y comenzó a sentir que el Señor lo llamaba al ministerio.

“Sentí en mi corazón que Dios me iba a usar como pastor, aunque no sabía lo que eso significaba,” dijo Martínez. 

Manuel y Karla Martinez

“A los jóvenes hispanos de segunda y tercera generación les cuesta conectar con las iglesias de habla hispana porque no dominan el español."

Con el tiempo, Martínez comenzó a servir en el ministerio juvenil, donde conoció a su esposa y ayuda idónea, Karla. Participó activamente en la evangelización de su comunidad y dirigió la adoración en la iglesia. También sirvió como maestro de Biblia para jóvenes y evangelista de jóvenes, predicando en varios eventos. 

Debido a que estuvo muy involucrado con los jóvenes, Martínez vio repetidamente que las generaciones más jóvenes de hispanos se desconectaban de la iglesia después de dejar el grupo de jóvenes. Parte del problema, reconoció, era que las generaciones más jóvenes se encontraban en medio de dos culturas, sin pertenecer plenamente a ninguna de ellas. No podían identificarse con la cultura estadounidense y, al mismo tiempo, les resultaba difícil conectar con la cultura hispana porque no hablaban el idioma con fluidez.

“Vi a muchas familias rotas como la mía y a muchos jóvenes sufriendo como yo,” afirma Martínez.

Con la inquietud de cerrar esa brecha que vio entre los hispanos más jóvenes creciendo alrededor de él, Martínez pasó cinco años apoyando los comienzos de plantación de la Iglesia Bautista Jericó, ayudando en el área evangelismo, adoración y discipulado mientras continuaba trabajando con los jóvenes de West Brownsville. En el 2018, Navarro bendijo el deseo de Martínez de comenzar un nuevo ministerio para alcanzar a las generaciones hispanas más jóvenes. Martínez y su esposa comenzaron abriendo su casa para estudios bíblicos a los que asistían estudiantes de secundaria y universitarios. También comenzaron una práctica que continúan hoy: evangelizar a la gente en parques públicos cada semana. Después de un año, el grupo comenzó a celebrar servicios de adoración una vez al mes en un área proporcionada por West Brownsville. 

Crear comunidad y conectar generaciones es uno de los principales objetivos del pastor Manuel Martínez, de la Iglesia Bautista Logos. FOTO COMPARTIDA

A medida que el grupo continuaba creciendo, comenzaron a orar por un lugar permanente para reunirse. En el 2020, Dios proveyó ese lugar a través de una generosa mujer que les dio las llaves de un pequeño edificio con capacidad para unas 40 personas. Los preparativos para utilizar el edificio estaban en marcha cuando COVID golpeó, reduciendo el número de personas que se estaban preparando para poner en marcha lo que se convertiría en la Iglesia Bautista Logos de 20 personas a seis. Los que quedaban estaban decididos a continuar con el lanzamiento y, tras la cuarentena, reanudaron las reuniones en persona. 

Una vez se reanudaron, Martínez y la iglesia descubrieron que algunos de los jóvenes que estaban llegando traían a sus padres y a otros miembros de la familia. Aunque acogieron este hecho con entusiasmo, esto trajo un reto con el que Martínez se había familiarizado: ahora tenían una generación mayor de hispanos a los que les costaba conectar porque los servicios eran en inglés. Eso llevó a Logos a iniciar un servicio adicional en español. Martínez dijo que alrededor de 45 personas asisten regularmente a los servicios. 

“La historia de Logos ha sido una de Dios haciendo abundantemente más de lo que pedimos o esperamos.”

Logos es una iglesia apasionada por las misiones. El año pasado destinó el 18% de su presupuesto anual a las misiones, lo que incluyó el apoyo a dos misioneros en España y el envío de estudiantes universitarios a viajes misioneros. Uno de esos viajes fue a Dallas, donde atendieron a una comunidad de inmigrantes de Afganistán. Como resultado, varios inmigrantes renunciaron al islam y entregaron sus vidas a Cristo. La iglesia también ministra en el campus de la Universidad de Texas Rio Grande Valley en Brownsville, donde los miembros llevan a cabo estudios bíblicos que han llevado a tres estudiantes a aceptar a Cristo y ser bautizados. 

También se han unido a Navarro para ministrar a los inmigrantes que llegan al centro de Brownsville, alimentándoles, dándoles mantas y predicando el Evangelio. 

Martínez, que sirve y trabaja bivocacionalmente, sigue orando por más obreros que ayuden a discipular a las personas que están alcanzando. La iglesia también está pidiendo en oración a Dios que provea un nuevo edificio que pueda sostener el crecimiento que está experimentando. Aunque Logos está situada en uno de los condados más pobres de Texas, y con una ofrenda semanal media de 130 dólares, la iglesia sigue confiando en que Dios proveerá a sus necesidades para que puedan expandir Su reino.

“La historia de Logos ha sido una de Dios haciendo abundantemente más de lo que pedimos o esperamos,” dijo Martínez. “Su bondad derramada sobre nuestras vidas nos impulsa hacia adelante mientras buscamos conocer a Jesús y darlo a conocer. Por la gracia de Dios, continuaremos haciendo eso en el Valle del Río Grande, en Texas y en el mundo.”

Brownsville church plant starts services in English, Spanish to bridge generation gap

speaking the same language Logos Baptist Church in Brownsville

As the Hispanic population in the U.S. grows, new challenges are emerging. For example, more children and teenagers from Hispanic households are improving their English language skills but not developing or even losing their native Spanish language skills. 

As a result, in many Hispanic households in the U.S., parents speak little English and their children speak little or no Spanish. This reality has created an environment where many parents—and churches—struggle to connect with the younger generation. 

These challenges are what prompted Manuel Martinez, pastor of Logos Baptist Church in Brownsville, to start an English-language Hispanic ministry. 

“Second- and third-generation Hispanic youth have a hard time connecting with Spanish-speaking churches because they are not fluent in Spanish. That’s why many drop out of church right after high school,” said Martinez, who himself has been shaped by a Hispanic-American subculture.

Born in Matamoros, Mexico, Martinez moved to North Carolina when he was 6 years old. Once he started school, English became his primary language, but he maintained his ability to speak Spanish because it was the language spoken at home. He began working at age 15 to help support his household, which included his mother and two young sisters. His father eventually came to the U.S. to live with the family, but Martinez’s parents separated when he was 17. 

Years of difficulty followed. After his parents separated, his father was deported and his mother remarried and went back to Mexico, leaving Martinez with two sisters who were now dependent on him. Abandonment, financial pressure, relationship struggles, and his immigration status led him into a very dark season where he suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts. 

During this time of Martinez’s life, a man named Carlos—a handyman from his grandmother’s church, West Brownsville Baptist Church—came to visit. Carlos shared the gospel with the 18-year-old Martinez, who gave his life to Christ. At West Brownsville, Martinez was discipled by Pastor Carlos Navarro and began to sense the Lord calling him into ministry.

“I felt in my heart that God was going to use me as a pastor even though I didn’t know what that meant,” Martinez said. 

Manuel and Karla Martinez

“Second- and third-generation Hispanic youth have a hard time connecting with Spanish-speaking churches because they are not fluent in Spanish.”

Martinez eventually began serving in youth ministry, where he met his wife, Karla. He became active in evangelizing his community and leading worship at church. He also served as a youth Bible teacher and youth evangelist, preaching at various events. 

Because of his involvement with young people, Martinez repeatedly saw younger generations of Hispanics disconnecting from the church after they left the youth group. Part of the problem, he recognized, was that the younger generations found themselves in the middle of two cultures, not fully belonging to either. They could not identify with American culture and, at the same time, found it difficult to connect with Hispanic culture because they could not speak the language fluently.

“I saw many broken families like mine and many young people suffering like me,” Martinez said.

With a growing hunger to bridge the gap he saw among younger Hispanics, Martinez spent five years helping Jericho Baptist Church, a church plant, with evangelism, worship, and discipleship while continuing to work with the youth at West Brownsville. In 2018, Navarro blessed Martinez’s desire to start a new ministry to reach younger Hispanic generations. Martinez and his wife began by opening their home for Bible studies attended by high school and college students. They also began a practice they continue today—evangelizing people in public parks every week. After a year, the group began worshiping once a month in a room provided by West Brownsville. 

Part of the ministry of Logos Baptist Church is to minister to people on the streets of Brownsville. SUBMITTED PHOTO

As the group continued to grow, they began to pray for a permanent place to meet. In 2020, God provided that place through a generous woman who gave them the keys to a small building that could accommodate about 40 people. Preparations to use the building were underway when COVID hit, reducing the number of people who were preparing to launch what would become Logos Baptist Church from 20 people to six. Those remaining were determined to continue with the launch and, after the quarantine, resumed in-person meetings. 

Once they resumed, Martinez and the church found that some of the young people they were reaching were bringing their parents and other family members. While welcoming this fact with excitement, it brought the challenge with which Martinez had become familiar—an older generation of Hispanics who struggled to connect because services were in English. That led Logos to start an additional service in Spanish. Martinez said about 45 people are regularly attending the services. 

Logos is a church with a passion for missions. Last year, it gave 18% of its annual budget to missions, which included supporting two missionaries in Spain and sending college students on mission trips. One of those trips was to Dallas, where they ministered to a migrant community from Afghanistan. As a result, several migrants renounced Islam and gave their lives to Christ. The church ministers on the campus of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Brownsville, where members conduct Bible studies that have led three students to accept Christ and be baptized. 

“The story of Logos has been one of God doing abundantly more than we ask or expect.”

It also teamed up with Navarro to minister to migrants arriving in downtown Brownsville, feeding them, giving them blankets, and preaching the gospel. 

Martinez, who works bivo-cationally, continues to pray for more workers to help disciple the people they are reaching. The church is also prayerfully asking God to provide a new building that will support the growth it is experiencing. Though Logos is located in one of the poorest counties in Texas, and with an average weekly offering of $130, the church continues to trust that God will provide for its needs so it can expand His kingdom.

“The story of Logos has been one of God doing abundantly more than we ask or expect,” Martinez said. “His outpouring of goodness over our lives propels us forward as we seek to know Jesus and make Him known. By God’s grace, we will continue to do that in the Rio Grande Valley, in Texas, and the world.”

Lone Star Scoop • June 2023

Oldest active Baptist church in Texas marks 185th anniversary


Old North Baptist Church, the oldest active Baptist church in Texas, marked its 185th anniversary on May 7 with a celebration service that included worship, the preaching of God’s Word, and a recitation of its history. 

John McGuire, a field representative for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention—whose father, Pete, once pastored Old North—presented a plaque to the church to mark the occasion. The plaque included an inscription of 2 Corinthians 9:12: “For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”

According to the Texas State Historical Association, the church was officially organized on May 6, 1838. 

“You know, I was just thinking—this little house is about 185 years old,” said Ottis Byers, a longtime East Texas businessman who preached the anniversary service. “Aren’t you glad He still dwells in it? … It’s a sweet presence in here.”

—Texan Staff

Dance’s ‘Start to Finish’ to be released this month


Start to Finish: The Pastor’s Guide to Leading a Resilient Life and Ministry, the latest book by Guidestone Director of Pastoral Wellness Mark Dance, is scheduled to be released in June by B&H Publishing. 

In the book, Dance addresses the challenging task pastors face and offers steps they can take to serve, lead, and end their ministries well—whether they are many years into their ministry or about to begin. In its promotion of the book, B&H writes, “As pastors begin to lead their churches, they recognize quickly that their calling comes with special expectations. Many come to feel they can no longer live up to those expectations. Burnout is rampant. Pastors are stepping down in order to protect the well-being of themselves and their families. … Mark Dance addresses this frustration in his book ….”

“I am praying that this book will be used as a mentoring tool for seasoned ministers to use with younger ones in their most formative years,” Dance said. “I am hoping that God will use it to prepare pastors for a resilient life and ministry, as well as prevent them from causing collateral damage along the way.” 

Start to Finish will be available through most major book retailers. 

—Texan Staff

Representatives from the ERLC’s Psalm 139 Project and FirstLook Sexual Health and Pregnancy Center in Waxahachie were on hand for the dedication of an ultrasound machine funded by the SBTC in April. ALISA WOODALL PHOTO

Ultrasound machine funded by SBTC grant dedicated in Waxahachie

WAXAHACHIE—The dedication of the fourth of six ultrasound machines funded by a Southern Baptists of Texas Convention grant was held in April at FirstLook Sexual Health and Pregnancy Center. 

The SBTC Executive Board in April 2022 approved a grant of $228,000 to provide the machines and training. “We are so grateful for the partnership with the SBTC on multiple machine placements in Texas,” said Rachel Wiles of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Psalm 139 Project, which facilitated the ultrasound placements.

Added FirstLook CEO Donna Young: “This ultrasound machine from the Psalm 139 Project to FirstLook is such a wonderful blessing. God is faithful to provide exactly what is needed to further His work here at exactly the right time.”

—Jane Rodgers

SBTC en Español hosts retreats for senior adults, pastor wives


The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s en Español department marked a pair of firsts in April when it hosted retreats for senior adults and the wives of Hispanic pastors. 

“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.”

The senior adult retreat included speakers who spoke on topics such as managing their spiritual lives and preparing well for retirement. The retreat for the wives of pastors offered encouragement and tools to help them face the challenges of serving in ministry.

—Arlene Sanabria

In a world of distractions, pastor urges congregation to prioritize its commitment to the local church

Keeping the first things first

One of the most challenging obstacles pastors face is the same in congregations large and small: getting people to prioritize local church commitment over the activities constantly competing to fill up their weekly schedules. 

“People are so busy with different things like sports, school, and other activities. They get pulled in 80 different directions, and they don’t prioritize being in church,” Mikey Pesqueda, pastor of First Baptist Church in Archer City, said.

“The body of Christ is meant to be there for each other. We need every person that is a believer here because we’re supposed to sanctify each other and grow and hold each other accountable,” he said. “We’re supposed to worship God together, encourage one another, and mourn together. 

“If we’re not [at church with one another], then there’s always a part that’s missing that’s absolutely essential.”

Pesqueda has been reading a book by pastor and author J.T. English that says disciple-makers are taking the wrong approach when they ask what disciples want. Instead, they should be asking what they need.

“I think the same is true for our families,” Pesqueda said. “We don’t need to be asking what our kids want but what they need. What they need is to be involved in the body of Christ.”

FBC Archer City has seen a couple of families “really take hold of that” and pull their kids out of some activities, the pastor said, “and they’re here consistently.” 

“If you were to ask them, they would say there’s a peace now of not feeling so pressured going in 80 different directions.”

The Pesqueda family

“We need you to be here just as much as you need to be here.”

Pesqueda was working a plumbing job with his father, attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and had married about four years earlier when he asked some mentors to keep their eyes open for where he might serve in ministry full time. With only internships on his resume, Pesqueda expected to start as an associate pastor and was surprised when FBC Archer City, a century-old congregation outside Wichita Falls, called him as their pastor. 

Archer City is a town of about 1,700 people, including ranchers, teachers, and people who work in Wichita Falls. The church has had a lot of good, faithful pastors, Pesqueda said, and they were ready to love and accept a 26-year-old as their shepherd.

“Pastoring here has been one of the best blessings of my life,” Pesqueda said. “Coming in and being younger, I wondered if people were going to listen to me and follow the lead of someone who’s 20, 30, 40 years younger than them. I’ve never really felt like people have seen me as a pastor-in-training, and I’m thankful for that.”

Since the beginning, Pesqueda wanted to focus on discipleship and making sure the church knows why it holds specific beliefs. Recently, he started a “Doctrine and Discipline” series on Sunday nights. 

“We’re trying to show people that head knowledge should grow our hearts for the Lord,” he said. “Head knowledge shouldn’t puff us up, but should grow our hearts to love Him more by seeing how complex God is and how much He has done for us.” 

“Our schedules really shouldn’t revolve around all the other things that we do. Our schedules should revolve around Christ.”

To support the doctrinal study, the pastor taught some Bible reading basics. “We walked through passages together and talked about interpreting it the right way compared to interpreting it the way we would like to interpret it,” he said.

The only remaining Baptist church in town, FBC Archer City has about 120 people attending on Sundays. The church has a strong children’s ministry and a growing student ministry. Attention is being given to women’s ministry, including a periodic mom’s night out on Wednesday nights. 

Missions has been a significant focus of the church, the pastor said, and its missions team works to ensure members aren’t just giving money, but partnering through prayer and directly serving with other ministries. 

For three years, the church has participated in the Secret Church Bible study and prayer emphasis started by pastor and author David Platt. An FBC Archer member had listened to Platt and asked if the church could get involved. Pesqueda was unsure anyone would attend something outside the scope of Sunday and Wednesday, but 25 people showed up the first time.

As more young couples join the church, Pesqueda tries to show them he doesn’t just want them there; he needs them there.

“We need you to be here just as much as you need to be here,” he tells them. 

“Our schedules really shouldn’t revolve around all the other things that we do. Our schedules should revolve around Christ. When our schedules revolve around Christ and going to church and being involved in a local body, then all the other things will find the right balance.” 

God’s not done with you!

I’ve discovered amazing things about the greatest men and women of Scripture. In reading their stories, I see a common theme. Because of their actions, circumstances, or age, they believed God was done with them.   

In their lives, I saw dead-ends, horrific mistakes, valleys of discouragement, and seasons of doubt. Their stories, despite the hopeless situations they faced, have encouraging and surprising conclusions. Their final testimony was, “God’s not done with me!”  

Let me personalize this—God’s not done with you, either!  

At times, it certainly seems like God is finished with us. I’ve been in seasons where I wondered if God even knew where I was. As a pastor, I’ve walked with many who’ve pondered, “Where are you, God? How will you meet me in this mess?” 

Let me encourage you with this: The God who intervened in the lives of those Bible characters can do the same for yours. Their stories are recorded so that you might experience God in your own life.   

Remember Elijah? This great prophet went from supernatural victory on Mount Carmel to a dark valley of discouragement in just hours—a stunning reversal.  Elijah was so weary, discouraged, and empty that he prayed, “It is enough … take my life.” This is what I call the dark night of the soul. So many have been there.  

God shines light into Elijah’s dark season with a personal encounter on a mountain. In that encounter, God changed Elijah’s perspective and gave him the next step he needed to get up and finish strong. God was not done with Elijah. Elijah’s greatest fear was an embarrassing death at the hands of Jezebel, but in the end, he doesn’t die. How’s that for an amazing comeback?

"The God who intervened in the lives of those Bible characters can do the same for yours. Their stories are recorded so that you might experience God in your own life."

When my wife and I walked through a similar time of discouragement and depression, we learned that the God of Elijah still meets with men and women and gives them hope. He did that for us. Decades later, we still remember those great moments where God intervened. 

Many may wonder, “How does God orchestrate these kinds of comebacks in life?” Then we remember that He is God, and if you’ll pay attention, He sends reminders to us all through history: 

Elijah was discouraged.  
Moses was angry.
David was in sin. 
Esther faced a hopeless situation.
Abigail stood between two angry men.
Peter became disillusioned with Jesus. 

Each could have concluded, “God’s done with me.” Each would have been wrong. God brought each of them through difficult seasons and let them experience incredible things on the other side.

“God’s not done with you” is a way of thinking—a perspective of life. If you’re still here, God’s not done with you. It is just like God to cause the latter chapters of your life to be much greater than former ones. Believe that He has a plan for you.

Remember Paul’s words in Philippians 3:13-14: Forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead. God’s not done with you!