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ALBUQUERQUE (BNM) - New Mexico Baptists, like many Americans, are facing uncertain and worrisome times. As COVID-19 continues to spread, church, home, and work lives are disrupted. Thankfully, as Christians, we know God is still in control.

In the midst of a news cycle dominated by worst-case scenarios, the Baptist New Mexican asked pastors from across the state to share encouragement and advice to their fellow pastors, as well as New Mexico Baptists as a whole. Their responses follow.

Encouragement for Fellow Pastors

“Don't lose heart! We have a wonderful opportunity to encourage our people to live on-mission in unique ways as we operate as the "church scattered" for an extended period of time. Remember that Jesus said He will build His church and not even the gates of Hades will prevail against it!” - Pastor Kyle Bueerrmann, First Baptist Church, Alamogordo

 “As pastors now is the time to pray and lead. Ask the Father for wisdom beyond ourselves, and go to work. Our folks need direction in times of uncertainty. The Gospel has not changed, and the purpose of the church has not changed. Lead in these directions.” - Pastor Mike Napier, First Baptist Church, Aztec

“This season of craziness has reminded me of our opportunity and responsibility as pastors to ‘equip the saints for the work of ministry’ (Ephesians 4:12). We might have to get creative, but let’s make sure we are doing everything we can to prepare our people to be the light and love of Jesus Christ in their neighborhoods and networks of friends.” - Pastor Aaron Coyler, First Baptist Church, Roswell

"We live and lead amid uncertain times, yet we preach a certain message: Jesus saves. It is the message of hope in hopeless times we are called to preach "in and out of season," calling all who hear it to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for sure salvation in these trying times. If ever there was an "out of season" time, it is now. As we think outside the box––or rather, outside the building––let's "give 'em Jesus" by creatively leveraging the means at our disposal to lead and love our people to Jesus” - Pastor Matt Henslee, Mayhill Baptist Church

“Let us use these difficult times to honor God with an unshakeable faith, with a mature faith that pleases God.  Instead of having fear, this is the time to grow our faith and glorify God through our trust in Him!  Soul of mine, be joyful, because God is in control of everything!” - Pastor Sal Rodriguez, Emanuel Baptist Church, Albuquerque

“The verse that keeps ringing in my head is, ‘Be still and know that I am God!’ (Psalm 46:10) This verse reminds me that in this frenzied world we live in, of grocery store brawls and panic attacks, our peace comes in knowing this Corona event did not catch God by surprise. He wants us to sit at His feet, in His Word, and calm our hearts to hear from Him. Pastors, as you prepare to preach on Sunday and minister the other days to your flock, take time to Be Still! It will do your heart and your congregation good!” - Pastor Johnny Spicer, First Baptist Church, Moriarty 

“We are living in some strange days—none of us has ever had to lead through a pandemic and it wasn’t a course any of us took in our pastoral training.  But the Lord keeps reminding me of something through it all:  I was made for such a day as this.  In His sovereignty each one of us has been placed where and when we are to serve.  God didn’t make a mistake—so, as God encouraged Gideon, so I encourage you:  ‘Go in this might of yours…[does He] not send you?’ (Judges 6:14).” - Pastor Bryne Palmer, Rio Church, Albuquerque 

 Encouragement for New Mexico Baptists

“One of the pastors on our team here at FBC Roswell said it best: ‘in this unprecedented time let’s be a church that prays unprecedentedly.’ Let’s pray for revival that people would repent and believe for the very first time and experience full abundant life in Jesus amidst the looming potential of severe suffering.” - Pastor Aaron Coyler, First Baptist Church, Roswell 

“There are a lot of questions and uncertainty about what the future holds. But there is one thing that is always certain: Jesus is on HIs throne. Rest in him, and tell somebody about the hope we have in Jesus Christ even when the rest of our worlds have turned upside down!” - Pastor Kyle Bueerrmann, First Baptist Church, Alamogordo

“This is a great time for us to show not only that we pray for our government and our leaders, but it is a time to be obedient as Christians to what our leaders ask. This is an unprecedented time to show our love towards others as believers in Jesus Christ.” - Pastor Jeremy Butler, Rio Mimbres Baptist Church, Mimbres

“These are trying times we are living in and I am reminded of Paul's challenge to Timothy, ‘God has not given him a spirit of fear but of power.’ (2 Timothy 1:7) Our great God has given his people all we need for life and godliness and part of that is His peace in trying times through His Spirit. So, when you are tempted to look at the storm around you, focus on the God who walks with us through the storm. Call on His Spirit of power each day and allow Him to calm the storms of fear and worry in your life. He will do it.” - Pastor Johnny Spicer, First Baptist Church, Moriarty 

“In these uncertain times it can be hard to "keep calm and carry on.”  When we consider all the changes occurring because of COVID-19 it can be frightening.  But we must choose faith over fear.  Our Lord has promised to take care of us and He’s not going to stop just because of a virus.  Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:26: 26, ‘Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?’” - Pastor Bryne Palmer, Rio Church, Albuquerque 

“God is not surpised by the events happening in the world. Now is the time for our faith to shine. As Christians, we are in the middle of a huge opportunity to see people turn to Jesus and be disciples. Let’s not allow these days to slip by. Be bold and share with people the reason we are walking faith and not fear.” - Pastor Mike Napier, First Baptist Church, Aztec

“Let's remember that God is always in action the Bible says in Psalm 115:3 ‘But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.’ God knows what we are going through, nothing takes Him by surprise; He is all-powerful and will do whatever He wants to do. Now Psalm 34:8 says ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.’ Which means that God will act out of his holy and lovely nature. So faith means to trust that He will take better decisions that we can't even imagine.” - Pastor Herminio Estrada, Iglesia Hermosa, Santa Fe

Daniel Porter is a staff writer with the Baptist New Mexican news journal and, news and information outlets for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

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