PORTALES (BNM) - In 2015, a group of Christian businessmen founded Foundations of Faith Dairy Ministry (ffaith.net). The faith-based nonprofit ministers to Spanish-speaking dairy employees and their families, primarily in the Portales and Hobbs areas. The Foundation's mission is sharing the Good News and to building strong lives on a foundation of faith.
The organization’s Chaplains build relationships with dairy employees. The Portales area, alone, has over 40 dairies. Chaplains meet with employees weekly during breaks and shift changes. They offer bottles of water, food, prayer and spiritual guidance and tend to other ministry needs. Chaplains also host Bible studies onsite. The ministry saw 124 salvations in 2019.
Under the leadership of Beau Lamb, FFDM employs two full-time Spanish-speaking chaplains. The ministry has expanded visits to calf ranches, a peanut mill and a nursing home in the Portales area. Other services offered include English as a Second Language classes and website messages in both English and Spanish. Chaplains also perform weddings and funeral services. Lamb pastors First Baptist Church, Santa Rosa.
FFDM expanded its work into the Hobbs area in 2019. Mario Navarro shares Bible studies at four dairies in southeastern New Mexico. By the end of 2019, 22 people had prayed to receive Christ, with five on the first day. Navarro pastors Iglesia Bautista La Roca, Lovington.
The dairy employees work in various areas of the dairy: milking, feeding and herd management. Dairies are a 24-hour industry, usually in remote locations; so many of the employees are unable to attend religious services.
FFDM recently received a mobile chapel as a donation. The semi-trailer, which can be pulled by a semi-truck, was formerly used as a "trucker chapel." The trailer is equipped with heating and air conditioning and holds up to 40 worshipers. It is being refurbished for use after the COVID-19 crisis is over. The mobile chapel needs new tires and some undercarriage repair.
The ministry's ESL program received a grant from the Lillian Isaacs Endowment for Literacy Missions through the National WMU Foundation. The grant was $839. ESL classes met at Emanuel Baptist Church, Portales, before COVID-19 adjustments shifted them to instructional videos are on FFDM’s website.
The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced both the ministry and the dairy industry to new challenges. The demand for milk production dropped 10%. Since the cows still needed to be fed and milked, workers remained employed.
Since face-to-face contact is not possible, the chaplains work from their homes. They contact the workers by phone and mail. They also produce daily Spanish devotional videos on topics about salvation and discipleship and post them on Facebook and the website. Recently, a woman living in Mexico placed her faith in Jesus Christ by watching the videos. She found them on Facebook.
Because of the ministry’s presence, dairy owners have reported fewer problem incidents. They also see less turnover, better production and happier employees. Over 300 workers are now active in local churches and some are waiting for baptism.
Joy Pittman contributed to this article.