Georgia Baptist Hispanic preachers conducting online services. NOELIA CHAVEZ/Screenshots
In these difficult times, it is important to remember what Jesus said in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Many people are living in fear and are worried about the outcome of what we are going through. One thing is certain – our trust and faith is in our Lord Jesus Christ.
A lot of questions go through our minds, but I think it is time to take a stand together and watch over our neighbors. We have all been distracted with many insignificant things that we have forgotten the importance of being connected with God and our loved ones.
With technology available nowadays and the ability to be connected globally, Hispanic Georgia Baptists churches and pastors have turned to social media to livestream their weekly activities and their Sunday services.
Leaders from different local youth, children, music, and discipleship ministries are sending out a message of faith and hope either through a Bible study or a word of encouragement. What is interesting to see is pastors inviting people to receive Christ. And people are responding to the call. My husband for example received a message from a person in South America who watched live his message and trusted in Christ.
The coronavirus crisis has led us to see the importance of sharing the Gospel through social media. Hispanic pastors have had to learn to use their smart phones, personal computers, and virtual platforms (Zoom, Vimeo, Facebook, YouTube) to maintain a connection with their flock. However, pastors’ children have become essential in helping their dads to understand the importance of technology in the church and see with benevolent eyes the world of social media.
It has also served the Hispanic church to create a bond with other Hispanic churches, pastors, leaders, and entities. I have witnessed pastors calling each other to share information, tutorials, and ideas on how to respond to the needs to use virtual platforms for livestreaming and for online giving. Even many Anglo congregations are partnering with Hispanic churches allowing them to use their video equipment to broadcast their Sunday services. If there was a time to stop being many churches and become one church, IT IS NOW.
This crisis has also provided Hispanics with a greater opportunity to connect with their communities by responding to their spiritual and physical needs. It has been a good way of participating and sharing with those people who are nonbelievers and who need the church to be the voice of God.
It has not only been a good opportunity locally but also globally. The videos that are being transmitted live are being seen internationally. This way we are sharing the Gospel with other nations.
With the help of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, Hispanic have created a Facebook page called GBMB en español which in an hour of created already had 300 subscriptions
Also, a channel in Vimeo linked to GBMB’s has been created called Recursos Hispanos (Hispanic Resources) in which there are devotionals in Spanish led by our pastors, also devotionals for youth and children led by our second generation of leaders in Spanish, English and Spanglish.
Groups on Facebook and WhatsApp named Hispanos Unidos have been created in which all week we are posting the worship services of our 155 churches throughout the state.
A word of gratitude to The Christian Index for publishing daily an article in Spanish written by our pastors that serves as a way to connect our community to the art of reading.
Last Tuesday GBMB en español promoted a historic virtual panel that went live with Hispanic representatives of some of the Southern Baptist agencies (NAMB, IMB, GuideStone, LifeWay, and SBC). The panel was led by my husband on behalf of the Georgia Baptist Convention and in just one hour there were connected 2500+ viewers. Georgia Baptist are responding well and leading the way during this time of crisis.
In this time of crisis, let us not use these tools to offend or criticize one another but to share a message of hope, love, and redemption to all those who are going through personal, emotional, family, and economic problems. In a time in history where all we see and hear around us is bad news, we as the church have the ability to spread the Good News of the Gospel.
I want to honor today all those pastors, wives, and families who are the true heroes of this story. The pastoral family has become a strong team by serving those sheep in need of direction and encouragement. With God’s help we will see better days ahead.
Noelia Chavez is secretary and wife to Javier Chavez, pastor of Amistad Cristiana International in Gainesville and 2nd VP of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Noelia and Javier are parents of Josh (17), Abi (14), Vania (11), and Nathaniel (8).