February 26th, 2010 at 2:29 pm
CONROE –For the past four years, Iglesia Bautista El Buen Pastor has spent 21 days each January in a Daniel fast, only partaking of vegetables, fruits and water during this time, asking God to do mighty acts in their midst. Each year, God has answered prayers as the church seeks the heart of the Lord – people are being healed and having better health while others from the community are coming to the church for the first time, receiving the hope of Christ in their lives.
“One of the biggest things that we have been seeing is how God can change lives,” said Yony Matute, pastor of Iglesia Bautista El Buen Pastor in Conroe. “Other churches are hearing what God is doing in our church. A lot of pastors call me and ask what the secret is. There is no secret. We have just been seeking God and praying. We just want God to send a revival to our church.”
Ruben Alas, a member of the church, agreed, saying that as the church is learning to put Christ first in their lives and seek Him for open doors to minister to the community, God is proving Himself faithful, improving the lives of church goers and others in the community.
“What we can see is most of our brotherhood is improving, not just financially but in appearance, mission and better goals because they now think differently,” Alas said.
Because many in the church had never fasted, the members read through a book explaining the theology of fasting before this January. The church gained the Daniel method from Scripture, citing the Old Testament example of Daniel only taking vegetables and water for a period after he was captured and taken to Babylon. Though Alas was anxious about taking part in the fast for the first time, he now sees how faith through fasting is impacting the church and his own life.
“First we were scared when we began, but when we tried and saw the results, it became a spiritual fix,” Alas said. “Then in my case and for many, it becomes a lifestyle because we find it is worth it to practice not just for health but for the spiritual aspects.”
Each year during the time of fasting, the church building is open additional hours so that members can come together and pray. To encourage the fasting and prayer throughout the year, Matute and his wife are available each morning from 4:30-7:00 a.m. to pray with church members through phone calls.
“We started with five people coming to the church four years ago,” Matute said. “Now we have more than 300 people coming, and God gave us a facility from an Anglo church. Every year that we have the fasting, we put everything in God’s hands for the whole year, and we have seen God move in a tremendous way.”
In the past year during a time of reorganization, Southside Baptist Church in the city gave its $2.5 million facility to Iglesia Bautista El Buen Pastor because it recognized what God was doing within the Hispanic church.
Also, God laid on the hearts of several members to begin a counseling ministry to minister to people in the community dealing with addictions to alcohol, drugs, pornography and other substances as well as those in need of job and family counseling.
Many members have been seeking God about individual life matters, but the church has come together this year as a whole to petition the Lord about three possible endeavors – starting a Christian radio station, gaining 1,000 more members and opening a mission church in Cleveland. Though the goals may seem high and vast, the church believes that God wants to use church to make a bold difference in the community.
“We have a desire in our heart to have a Christian radio station in Spanish,” Matute said. “And we want to reach 1,000 new members this year. We started a family support ministry so that when anyone who comes to the service, we designate a support family. We already have 60 families ready to connect with new people. We ask if it’s OK if the family can visit with the visitors and pray for them.”
The outflow of fasting has produced obedient people desiring to share Christ with their city and the world, Matute said. Last year, the church participated in its first international mission trip as a team traveled to Honduras to place a roof on a mission church there.
“The mission is that people are getting involved more and more,” Alas said. “And people are coming more and more to the church and it’s amazing. I feel like my soul rests now, that I can eat of the eternal rest.”
Orlando Sinisterra, a member of the church who recently became the pastor at the church’s mission in Grangerland, said God is sending a spiritual awakening through the fasting and through His Word. As the members are fasting and seeking the Lord, their faith community is naturally drawing others from the city to the church.
“With fasting and prayer, God is sending people because they are ready,” he said. “When the church humbles itself and repents of sin and prays, God will heal our sins and heal our land. The spiritual healing is what causes the Lord to send the people our way.”
Alas agrees, stating that the church has become more open to how the Lord wants to use the members to share the hope of Christ with the community.
“Fasting makes you feel more sensitive to the Spirit,” Alas said. “The congregation becomes more sensitive to the Spirit, showing more love to newcomers. Fasting became a new topic and accountability for our church.”
Now that the church has participated in the Daniel fast for several years, Matute has been compelled to lead the church in a fast for the entire year. Matute is recruiting at least 60 people so that two people will fast and pray one day a month for the ministries of the church.
“God brought to my heart, why do we just have to fast 21 days?” Matute said. “I feel that He has called me to do this a whole 365 days…. The whole year, what we want to do is reach the city for Christ and show people that when Jesus fasted, He was able to receive the Spirit.”
In the last three weeks alone, more than 42 people have begun first time relationships with Christ through the churches prayer and outreach efforts.