“…I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:22b-23 ESV
“…a todos me he hecho de todo, para que de todos modos salve a algunos. Y esto hago por causa del evangelio, para hacerme copartícipe de él.” 1 Corintios 9:22b-23 RVR
At first glance, “HM 206: Hispanic Ministries” may remind you of times spent searching frantically through the college catalog for one more class to round out an upcoming semester. “Ah, maybe here’s one… let’s see if it works.” Will it count toward my major? Can I fit it into my schedule? How much work is required? Who’s the teacher? And the obvious question: Is the class still open? Balancing academic goals, time pressures and scant resources can be a challenging struggle for even the most gifted multi-taskers of our era. But at the end of the day, is it even worth the effort? Maybe Paul the Apostle can give us advice on that subject.
No, Paul wasn’t looking for an easy class to sign up for, nor was he looking to drop a tough one to lighten his heavy load. Instead, Paul sought something worthwhile to God, not just himself. Despite all of Paul’s lofty Pharisaic credentials, he was ready to lay them all aside if it helped reach more people for the gospel. When God showed Paul a way to do so, he was all in, up for the challenge. The word “complacency” was not in Paul’s vocabulary of biblical terms. For somebody who’d been brought to his knees along the Damascus Road by the power of Christ Jesus he probably didn’t need extra motivation.
Ever since that awestruck moment, the familiar heartfelt voice of Paul’s shepherding Lord continued to stir him into action, ever expanding his audience for the gospel. Taking it to everybody “by every possible means” (CSB), which meant adjusting his usual approach, if necessary, and limiting his self-freedom yielding fully to the will of God to effectively reach others without watering down the message. Likewise, as students of Jesus Himself, His “discipleship class” remains open to every believer who is willing to learn and to apply His word. As for prerequisites, well that would be “FJ 101: Faith in Jesus”. How unusual when a major’s prerequisite is an elective.
So then, as we take a closer look at “HM 206: Hispanic Ministries”, we might ask if this describes a 200-level college linguistics course at all. No, it’s really just a play on words to draw your attention toward what happens upstairs at Grace Baptist Church (GBC) in Room 206 on any given Sunday morning. There is an open door of worship for all comers, within the power of the Holy Spirit (del Espíritu Santo), who knows no language barrier. Hispanic Ministry Director César Calderón presents a weekly message in Spanish. César is currently preaching through The Acts of the Apostles (Hechos de Los Apostoles) verse-by-verse. Each worship service kicks off with Spanish worship songs that get your blood pumping. Music transcends language barriers in a joyful way, as do the prayers lifted quietly to God the Father (Dios el Padre) and closed with joyous anticipation by asking in the name of Jesus (en el nombre de Cristo Jesús. Amén). The joy of the Lord (el Señor) is abundantly overflowing from Room 206 into the world.
Now, if you’re thinking, “Well that’s great for those who understand Spanish… but it’s just not for me.” Then again consider the mindset of Paul. Imagine for a moment had Paul responded to God’s call to spread the good news of Christ beyond his comfort zone by saying, “No thanks, Lord… I don’t speak the language,” and walking away.
Career missionaries usually become fluent in another language, yet that is not their primary goal. Instead, it’s a way to connect with fellow believers and those yet to become believers, if you share César’s evangelistic enthusiasm!
Spanish is difficult for many to master. But you don’t need a PhD in Spanish to become involved with Hispanic Ministries at GBC. In fact, you don’t have to know Spanish, to actively participate in this ministry. Again, it’s not about the language… it’s about the people.
Therefore, we can be energized by the Holy Spirit, equipped by the Word and engaged in GBC’s Hispanic Ministries (Ministerio Hispano) regardless of our current Spanish vocabulary. Paul would undoubtedly encourage us to endure for the sake of Christ. Here’s an outline of some ways to become part of this ministry:
- Humble yourself before the Lord (it’s not about fitting God into your schedule but just the opposite)
- Seek the Lord’s guidance about joining this ministry (then ask César how you can be supportive)
- Ask Questions (and be sure to have a note pad ready if you ask César who and what to pray about)
- Pray (together with those involved in this ministry, not just for them from a distance)
- Attend Class (regularly or at least occasionally… you won’t be tested and you will be welcomed!)
- Listen (to the spoken words of Spanish but more importantly listen to the heart of those speaking)
- Study (get a Spanish/English Parallel Bible and begin learning Bible books and verses, side-by-side)
- Help (each other build up their Spanish vocabulary via break-out groups or other viable settings)
- Learn (to be ready to share the gospel using conversational Spanish biblical words and phrases)
- Grow (to consider the impact God can have through your involvement with GBC Hispanic Ministries)
Hispanic Ministries doesn’t stay in Room 206. Instead, it represents a wide-open door for us as the body of Christ at GBC. Paul prayed asking God for open doors to share the gospel. Likewise, Ministerio Hispano offers new God-opened gateways of communication and ministry to share the timeless gospel of Christ (evangelio de Cristo).
Remember, Jesus’ discipleship class never fills up. Just knock and His door will be opened to you. So how about it? Will you invite del Espiritu Santo to fill your heart (corazón) with courage and strength? At the end of Paul’s day, he had this to say, “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it…” (2 Timothy 4:17 ESV). He definitely thought the effort was well worth all that he endured. As a family of God, let us stand together with César in this Pauline-like opportunity.
Alan Summers, GBC Elder
Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (ESV), the Reina Valera Revisada 1960 (RVR) and the Christian Standard Bible (CSB)