Strength in Unity: Phoenix Hispanic churches partner for evangelism

By Irene A. Harkleroad | Jun 8, 2022

People from five churches help with a Mexican Night festival at First Phoenix Church.

Reviving their churches and ministering in their neighborhoods have long been a focus of Arizona Southern Baptist Hispanic churches. In 2022, both are even more critical.

“Our churches were barely surviving,” said Heriberto Osobampo, pastor of Primera de Phoenix at First Phoenix Church (First Southern Baptist Church of Phoenix). “Lack of economic and human resources has taken a toll on the spirit of the pastors and the congregations.”

When Phoenix area pastors met last year and shared their experiences regarding the impact of the pandemic and the ability to share the Gospel, several pastors developed a plan to combine their efforts by holding outreach events that would take the Gospel to their neighbors and encourage their congregations.

Known for being innovative, several of these churches combined their talents and enthusiasm to increase their evangelistic efforts. On Nov. 20, 2021, members and leaders of five churches transformed part of First Phoenix into a Mexican Night festival. Church members prepared food, provided music and shared the Gospel with their neighbors.

Those five churches and pastors were Mercy Hill Hispanic Ministry (Salvador Pedrote), Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida (Hernán Perez), Ministerio Familia de Dios (Isaac Avilés), Iglesia Cristiano Ciudad del Rey (Salvador Cruz) and Iglesia Expandiendo el Reino de Dios (Armando Torres).

First Phoenix Pastor Bruce Ford (from left), Primera de Phoenix Pastor Heriberto Osobampo and Josue Castro, Hispanic ministries facilitator with the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network are participate in a Mexican Night festival at First Phoenix Church.

“The first event was very successful and led to three more events in December,” said Josue Castro, Hispanic ministries facilitator with the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network.

Those events were held on Dec. 18 at Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida, Dec. 20 at Mercy Hill Church and at Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida as a Christmas party on Dec. 23.

“The pastors and churches have worked hard and accomplished much,” Castro said.

In addition to the five churches involved in these festive events, Iglesia Bautista Emanuel (José Moreno), West Thomas Baptist Church (Fortino Aguilera and Carlos Meneses) and Centro Cristiano de Alabanza y Adoración (Enrique Borja) are also engaged in this collaboration.

“The first great benefit was directly to the congregations and their pastors,” Osobampo said. “They regained the courage to work in fulfilling the primary task of the church, which is to minister the Gospel to their community.

“The benefit to the community is, undoubtedly, being exposed to the message of salvation,” he said. “With time, families and people will be saved as the work continues in them and as they see a new enthusiasm in the joint work of the churches and their shepherds.”

Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida holds a Christmas party for the community with help from several Arizona Southern Baptist Hispanic churches.

To further encourage and prepare their people, pastors are being trained to use “Missional Made Simple,” a tool that anyone can use to share the Gospel with their family, friends and neighbors.

“I thank God for the opportunity that our Lord gave us to work together with other pastors as a team and to put the word into action as Matthew 18:19 says, ‘Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven,’” Perez said.

He emphasized that taking the Gospel to communities must continue. He encourages others to do the same and rediscover the many blessings of working together.

“These events not only motivate church members,” Perez said, “but also allow us to see the fruit of this work, creating bridges and connections with families in our neighborhood resulting in confessions of faith.”

Irene A. Harkleroad, a freelance writer living in Carefree, is a member of Black Mountain Baptist Church, Cave Creek.

Next Steps

  • Consider partnering with other Southern Baptist churches to share the load in holding outreach events at your church.
  • Look for ways you can share the Gospel in your church and neighborhood.
  • Are the members of your church weary? Find encouragement as you look outward and minister together in your community.

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