RAYADO (BNM) – A site once home to Kit Carson and subject to Apache and Comanche raids is now hosting a First Baptist Church, Roy, church plant. Jeff Ogata felt called to plant a church, and with FBC Roy commissioning him to follow the pursuit, he settled into Rayado Creek.
“My wife and I wanted to plant a church and check out other models,” Ogata said when speaking about plans he and his wife had to travel throughout the southwest in late 2019. Their first stop was First Baptist Church, Springer, to hear Roy Mitchell preach. “We never went to a second church,” he said.
Ogata, an interim pastor and deacon at First Baptist Church, Cimarron, then began attending FBC, Roy, with his wife, Misty. Roy Mitchell then began mentoring him and he gained pulpit experience. Remembering the call to plant a church, Ogata said he soon became restless.
Ogata said, “When I came to Christ, I found peace. One Sunday, in June 2020, I was about to go to church, but I didn’t have peace about it. My family asked if something was wrong with me. I told my wife that I couldn’t go to church that day and didn’t know why. I prayed and fasted about it and realized it was time for me to plant this church.”
Not long after that, FBC, Roy, and FBC, Cimarron, ordained Jeff to the ministry and sponsored the new church plant called Rayado Creek Family Fellowship. On Easter, members of FBC, Roy, traveled the hour and fifteen minutes to attend the newly planted church as Ogata delivered a message out of John 3 and Mitchell led the congregation in the Lord’s Supper. “We wanted to go over there and tell them that we support them in starting their church,” Mitchell said.
Prior to launching Rayado Creek, families had discussed with Ogata the need for a different kind of church that could reach young people. He encouraged them to read the Baptist Faith and Message. “I said that if we can agree on that, we can start to meet,” he said. “I love the doctrine. If we can stay with that, we can keep the church on track. We ended up starting a Baptist church with hardly any Baptists. We have Presbyterian, Catholic, Episcopal, and other backgrounds.”
Ogata’s background and the location of Rayado Creek Family Fellowship matched the new congregation. He is a Californian of Japanese heritage. In the early 1990s his father bought land near the community of Miami, New Mexico. Soon, Ogata followed his father. “I’d been fairly successful all my life but never happy,” he said. “My father needed some help so I joined him.”
In the late 1990’s Ogata heard the Gospel preached in a cow camp. “I knew right away that I’d been living for myself and not for Christ,” he said. With that Gospel message, “it all just started to make sense.”
With the nearest Walmart being an hour-and-a-half away, Rayado Creek Family Fellowship is an unconventional location for a church plant. They meet in a former mess hall built in the 1950s, less than 300 feet from the Kit Carson Museum. Rayado Creek is where Lucien Maxwell, who founded Rayado, hired Kit Carson in 1849 to provide security from Apache and Comanche attacks.
Rick Brittain, the Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s northern regional missionary, notes the value Ogata placed on mentorship and how mentoring has become part of his current ministry.
“The origin of Rayado Creek Family Fellowship is the ministry Jeff and Misty already had – sharing Christ and serving and mentoring younger people in and around Philmont [Scout Ranch]. It’s led to a greater investment called church,” he said.
“Jeff is very practical while making disciples. He teaches these young men how to be husbands, dads, friends and employees the way Jesus has called them to be,” Brittain said. “Jeff’s credibility in being their pastor comes from the way he lives in front of them, with integrity, service and the fruits of the Spirit in play.”