Baptist pastors urge fellow Hispanics to stay on course because they can influence the American church with their passion and focus.
Hispanic Baptists and other Christians have so much to offer the American church and society that they must avoid the pitfalls of secularism and consumerism, Latino religious leaders say.
That was part of the message during the June meeting of the Convencion Bautista Hispana de Texas, which was hosted by Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin.
And it’s the constant refrain in other settings, where Hispanic pastors see the potential gifts of their culture and faith eroded by the lure of materialism and comfort associated with their new host nation.
“Here in Central Florida, my competitor is Disney World, relaxing, consumerism and wanting to be in the air conditioning all the time,” said Ruben Ortiz, the pastor at La Primera Iglesia Bautista de Deltona, a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church located about 30 miles north of Orlando, Fla.
‘Christ is our center’
That competition can also be summed up as “the American way of life,” Ortiz said.
The response he offers his congregation and other Hispanics is simple, he said: “Remember where you came from, remember your passion for Christ and remember your passion for the church.”
That was very close to the word preached to 1,529 attendees, including 487 messengers, during the Convencion Bautista Hispana de Texas.
Preaching from Matthew 16:13-19, Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, encouraged Hispanic Baptists to stand firm in their faith, not responding to questions about Jesus’ identity based on what culture suggests, but rather what the scriptures proclaim.
“If the church does not know who Jesus is, how will the world know who Jesus is?,” Rodriguez asked. “Do we know who Jesus is? How can we reach people for Christ if we do not know who He is?”
As believers and followers of Christ, “we are who we are because Jesus declared our identity,” he said. “His word defines us. Christ is our center.”
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