One hundred years ago in San Antonio thirty-six Mexican Baptists gathered to establish the Mexican Baptist Convention which today is known as Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas. This week over 3000 people gathered to celebrate the centennial of Hispanic Baptist work in Texas. A movement that began with just a handful of visionary believers has become one of the most powerful movements for Christ in the world.
I had the honor to participate in this historic gathering and I found myself caught up in the excitement and history of the moment. President Victor Rodriguez and his able team of leaders put together an amazing week with the help of the staff of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Baptist University of the Americas, Buckner’s International, Dallas Baptist University, and countless others. Special thanks must go to the Trinity Baptist Church of San Antonio for its amazing job as host church for this historic gathering.
In a day when there is much concern about the future of denominations and conventions, it is clear our Hispanic brothers and sisters have not gotten the memo. As others Baptists groups are cutting back, and planning for diminished involvement and participation the Hispanic Baptist Convention is dreaming of bigger and better days. I pray their tribe will increase.
The advances and vision of our Hispanic leaders is critical in light of the “browning of Texas.” Soon the majority of the citizens of Texas will be from Hispanic families. The future of the Kingdom of God in Texas will depend greatly on the success of this great movement.
The convention revealed the good news, but there are also serious challenges facing this great movement. In a day when hundreds of Hispanic and multicultural churches need to start, there is a significant shortage of trained and equipped leaders. If our Baptist family is serious about meeting the challenge of today, we need to redouble our efforts to provide affordable, high quality education for the next generation of young Hispanic leaders.
The Baptist University of the Americas is on the front lines of this mammoth effort and needs our Baptist family to rally to their cause. Much like the vast majority of our Hispanic churches finances stand as a major hurdle for BUA. Pray the LORD will raise up financial partners to stand in the gap for this vitally important school.
However, BUA cannot be our only response. President Ken Starr announced that there will be over 500 incoming Hispanic freshmen to the campus of Baylor University. In addition to Baylor and BUA all of our Texas Baptist schools including Dallas Baptist, Houston Baptist, Howard Payne, Hardin Simmons, Wayland, Mary Hardin Baylor, and East Texas Baptist must strategically reach out to young Hispanic men and women who will be the next generations of leaders for tomorrow.
One sad reality is our ability to respond this challenge comes down to dollars and cents. Over the last decade due to the financial struggles of the BGCT the funding for our schools has had to demise each year. This is a trend that must change. In a time when churches are cutting back on Cooperative Program gifts, we must begin to sacrifice for the future of Texas.
This week we celebrated 1oo years of Hispanic work in Texas. We stood on the shoulders of those who had gone before us. It’s my prayer we will step up and lay the foundation for tomorrow.