On a bitter cold November night, Hispanic Baptists exchanged warm greetings and friendly handshakes in the Paul W. Powell Chapel at Truett Seminary for their annual rally, which kicked off the Texas Baptists Annual Meeting on Nov. 16.
Church planting consultant and evangelist Roland Lopez preached from Acts 8:26-35 and used Philip the disciple as a model of what it means to "live the difference."
Lopez said Philip exemplifies a follower of Christ who lives the difference in three ways.
First, he was described as, "a man who was sensitive to the Spirit of the Lord." When an angel came to Philip to instruct him to go south, Philip knew the message came from God and obeyed.
"If we're to live the difference, then we ought to be people who identify the voice of our Lord," Lopez said.
On the road Philip met an Ethiopian eunuch who was reading from Isaiah and "searching for the truth." Because Philip was sensitive to the Holy Spirit, he followed God's leading and approached the eunuch's chariot, creating an opportunity to interpret the Scriptures for the eunuch and teach him. Lopez pointed out the second key to living the difference is: "knowing the word of God and desiring to share that difference with others."
Finally, Lopez said, in order to live the difference, Christians must preach the simple message of the gospel.
"If we're going to live the difference, then out of our mouths -- out of our hearts -- should come a very simple message we can share, which makes the difference," he said.
Hispanic Baptists were also encouraged upon hearing that a recent experiment in bringing the gospel to unreached families in Waco was a huge success.
Hispanic churches in Waco partnered with Texas Baptists to put on a new event called Fiesta Familiar, a youth soccer tournament and family-friendly block party that attracted more than 700 people and resulted in more than 40 professions of faith by the end of the day. Those who accepted Christ were connected to churches where they could be discipled.
"It takes a church of the city to pastor the city," said Mario Sandoval, pastor of Iglesia Maranatha in Waco, as he described the community's receptivity to the Fiesta Familar event.
Because results of the Waco event were so positive, 23 Baptist churches in Laredo are planning their own version of Fiesta Familiar to take place later this month.
"Living the difference is about making an impact in the lives of people and in the community," said Director of Hispanic Ministry Rolando Rodriguez. "It's not just making sure the church has a presence in the community, but it's about being present. We want to impact the lives of people, to impact their hearts."
Lauren Hollon Sturdy serves as Web Content Editor for Buckner International.