ROSWELL (BNM) - “The glue that makes Southern Baptists Southern Baptists is missions,” Steve Ballew said. Ballew serves as the Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s lead missionary and executive director. He set the tone for the New Mexico WMU’s 2021 Missions Celebration and offered a reminder that the Good News about Jesus is central to New Mexico Baptists’ faith, while “everything else is ancillary.”
A preliminary count indicated that over 100 people, including about 18 students, had gathered in the sanctuary of Calvary Baptist Church, Roswell. They came to worship, pray, and hear testimonies about how God is at work in New Mexico communities and around the world. The Howard Family led worship at intervals between multiple presentations. Chaplain Fernando Gomez led a bilingual rendition of “How Great is Our God”.
The keynote speaker, Hope Howard, spoke about being a “relentless disciple” of Jesus Christ, “continually sowing His seeds” rather than putting “limits on our obedience.” Howard, one of three 2021 National Acteens Panelist, is a 17-year-old homeschool student from Kingsville, Texas.
“God doesn't ask us to do His work, He commands us,” Howard said. Continuing, she described her personal journey toward a “relentless” walk with Christ. She asked the audience, “If you do not tell them about Jesus, who will?”
Students presented and placed 18 flags in holders at the front of the worship center. Seventeen of them were international and represented missionaries in those countries, but the 18th flag was the Christian flag representing everyone serving in countries that cannot be named. They hymn “Sweet Hour of Prayer” played in the background as MattT began a session of prayer proclaiming that the “Gospel is worthy to proclaim to the nations.” MattT is the BCNM’s new team leader for its Missions Mobilization Team.
Four ministry presentations followed the prayer session. Teresa Howard, Daniel Clymer, Stanley and Valerie Jones, and Holly Howard. They described ongoing ministries and how church members can educate people about missions in their churches.
Teresa Howard, who was later elected as New Mexico WMU president, spoke on the life-transforming ministry of Christian Men’s and Christian Women’s Job Corp. The New Mexico arm of the ministry began in Portales in 1997. It engages community members and individuals in detention centers who are struggling with generational sins and bondage. Job Corps volunteers offer Bible studies, skill classes, parenting classes, GED instruction and mentorship to “equip” and “empower” students by focusing on their strengths rather than their deficits.
Daniel Clymer, pastor of Jemez Valley Baptist Church, and his wife, Denise, told about Native American ministry across New Mexico. Several NA churches, including in Taos and Mescalero, need pastors. Jemez Valley, which recently returned to in-person ministry, is still utilizing ministries like “porch drops” with care packages. The Clymers described the severity of depression on the pueblos and reservations and those areas’ high suicide rate. The Jemez Valley church has also been using phone texting to support members of its community - particularly late at night when anxiety and discouragement seem to worsen.
The Foundations of Faith Dairy Ministry, founded by Stanley and Valerie Jones in 2015, targets agriculture workers, specifically at dairies in eastern New Mexico and west Texas. A large number of the dairy workers come from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Dairy workers put in 12 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week. They have no time to attend church, so the Dairy Ministry goes to them. Taking water and sodas, and sometimes food, Chaplains Arturo Villa, Pastor of Ingelsia Baptista Christo La Peurta, Portales, and Fernando Gomez, previously in construction, visit the dairies and conduct Bible studies during breaks.
Together, the chaplains visit approximately 50 dairies with approximately 30-40 employees apiece. That adds up to a church of approximately 1500 people. Over the last year Villa and Gomez have seen 91 salvations.
Many who work in the dairies are eager to hear about Jesus Christ. Villa remembered one day when workers insisted on hearing the Gospel during a 10-minute break in the milk room. Every employee present accepted Christ, except one who was already a Christian.
Mr. Jones asked for prayer for continued open doors of dairy ministry, strength for the chaplains, and direction as the ministry seeks to expand. As for financial or in-kind donations,” Mrs. Jones said, “I promise we'll put it to good use – very good use.”
During the final presentation, Holly Howard encouraged church leaders to begin a missions education program, regardless of how small their group may be. “Are you ready to call out the called?” she asked.
Howard urged the audience to pray to be ready to send others to the mission field, particularly as missions education begins at home with parents teaching their children. She shared pictures of cards made for nursing homes, packing backpacks, performing random acts of kindness, and various other local missions projects her groups have done over the years. Though she mentioned many successful endeavors, she did suggest not selling duct tape roses.
The meeting ended with a brief business session. The WMU Executive Board recommended that Teresa Howard and Denise Clymer as nominees for WMU president and vice president. Those present voted to pass the recommendation without additional nominations.