International Ministries

Do You Know As Much As A Mexican Baptist Church?

October 12, 2011 Journal
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Starting a new church in Mexico is a labor of love!  Eight years ago Primera Iglesia Bautista (First Baptist Church) of La Paz began the mission Roca Fiel (Faithful Rock) in Cabo San Lucas, 2.5 hours south of La Paz.  José Valente Garcia came to serve as the pastor.  For several years they met under a tarp stretched over a parcel of dirt.  In 2007, Cordova Community Baptist Church in Alaska sent a mission team to help with the construction of the sanctuary.  Today they have a two-story building still in progress!

On September 25, the 45+ members were ready to organize as an official church.  This meant that they were willing to undertake the financial and spiritual responsibilities of their congregation without the continued support from their mother church First Baptist.  To prepare for this celebratory event, the members met under the guidance of Pastor Valente for several months to discuss theology and Baptist polity.  Then, on the evening of September 25th, the members were asked a series of questions presented by a council formed of the pastors in attendance. (It is similar to the Ordination Council for a pastoral candidate.)  How would you have handled some of the following questions?

Who is Jesus Christ?
How do you receive salvation?
Why do we organize as a church?
What does sanctification mean?
What is regeneration?
Why is the Bible important?
Why do we have separation of church and state?
What are the ministries of the church?
How do you become a member of your church?
What are the responsibilities of a member?
How will you support your pastor?
If there is an economic crisis, and you can’t pay your bills, let alone your pastor, how will you provide for your pastor? 
What happens if your pastor begins to teach non-Biblical doctrine?

These are just a few of the questions that the members of Roca Fiel fielded that evening.  After an hour, the council left the room to vote.  When they returned about 15 minutes later, the vote was unanimous.  However, several pastors contributed a “fuller explanation” to some of the answers given previously!  Then a member of First Baptist made a motion to allow Roca Fiel to organize as an official Baptist Church.  Again, the vote was unanimous and the worship celebration began!

Twenty minutes before the service, David was asked to preach.  Since it didn’t have to be long, he scribbled down some notes from the sermon he’d given that morning, and offered  encouraging words about grace-giving.  A Bible was presented to the church to display at the front of the sanctuary.  The members of the church sang several praise songs as special music.  And Pastor Valente offered his thanksgiving to God for growing them as believers and as a community of faith.  The evening closed with food, fellowship, and music—very Baptist no matter what country you live in!

We want to thank Cordova Community Baptist Church not only for the role they played in the physical construction of this new church, but also for the monthly salary support they provided for five years for Pastor Valente.  It is this type of cross-cultural relationship that makes our lives as missionaries so fulfilling.  Growing God’s Kingdom through partnership is what International Ministries and American Baptists strive to model.  Jesus truly does bind us together in love!

But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.  (2 Corinthians 1:24 NLT)