ALBUQUERQUE (BNM) - Through the Hope Fund, New Mexico Baptists helped each other endure 2020’s pandemic shut downs. Local churches suffered when public health orders forced them to cancel in-person services and activities. Baptist Convention of New Mexico staff discussed budget money to assist churches and explored ways the convention could help them survive the pandemic. Soon, the BCNM’s State Mission Board developed the Hope Fund.
The convention had initially allocated the money for three 2020 ministries: Collegiate Missions (New Mexico Teams), Collegiate Missions (International Teams) and the Ministers and Family Retreat. The ministries received funding from the 2019 Mission New Mexico State Missions Offering. But, with those events canceled because of the pandemic, the board proposed using the money for a Hope Fund to help churches. On April 20, 2020, the State Mission Board approved an $84,417 “Hope Fund” to assist churches affected by COVID-19.
Churches applied for Hope Fund grants through the BCNM website. Grants assisted with insurance, utilities and other needs to keep the churches functional. Grants also helped pastors and their families. The grants were not loans; churches were not required to repay them. Churches across the state applied for assistance.
At Gospel Victory Church, Bloomfield, the Hope Fund helped the church family pay utility bills. James Eaton, the Gospel Victory’s pastor, said that the church’s heater also failed. The funds allowed the church to replace the heater. At another time, the Hope Fund provided groceries for the Eaton family. Eaton said, “I thank the Lord that the pandemic did not put the church in a hole. I claim 2 Chronicles 7:14 that if we humbly pray, He will heal us.”
Andrew Begaye, pastor of Tinian Indian Baptist Church in San Juan Baptist Association, applied for the funds for his church. The church had receiveda large water bill after discovering an underground leak. The church used money from the Hope Fund to repair the leak, pay the water bill, and assist with other utility bills.
Tan Thai, pastor of Vietnamese Baptist Church, Albuquerque, was featured in a 2020 video about the Hope Fund. He told his church’s story to promote the Mission New Mexico State Mission Offering. In the video, he said the church had a small amount of cash on hand, but not enough to last during the shutdown period. Thai said that he immediately went online and applied for assistance. “I don’t know how to express appreciation. It is not just the dollar amount we cared about, but the heart-to-heart. When we have needs, God’s people express that they will help us. Our church really appreciated it,” Thai said in the video.
As of this writing, BCNM’s finance office reported that it had disbursed $41,242.18 to assist 23 churches and 18 pastors. The Hope Fund is still active and available to assist churches. Visit bcnm.com/HopeFund.