As Hispanic Heritage Month draws to a close, it seems fitting to reflect on some of the victories and opportunities we have seen in terms of reaching the lost among the Hispanic communities, both inside and outside the U.S.
Spanish is now the second most spoken language in the United States. Studies show that more than 13% of the U.S. population speaks Spanish at home. The U.S. is also home to the second largest population of Spanish speakers in the world, behind only Mexico.
Think about that. There are more Spanish speakers in the United States than in almost every other Spanish-speaking country in the world.
And the trend shows that by 2050, one-third of the people in the U.S. will speak Spanish (this includes those who also speak another language, such as English).
In 2019, 9.8% of Georgia residents identified as Hispanics. And that number is only getting larger.
I myself am a Hispanic resident of Georgia, so the issue is personal to me. I was born in Argentina and immigrated to the U.S. as a child. In fact, most of my extended family still lives in Argentina.
Now, more than ever, Southern Baptists have opportunities to reach Spanish speakers with the good news of the Gospel. The Georgia Baptist Mission Board has a staff of Hispanic consultants that minister to Spanish-language Southern Baptist churches throughout the state.
There are currently more than 100 Baptist Hispanic pastors ministering to the needs of the growing population in Georgia, and for the third year in a row the Georgia Baptist Convention has a Hispanic vice president. Rafael Valter currently serves as 2nd vice president for the convention and is the first Salvadoran-born officer. Georgia Baptists have a heart to reach Hispanics with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The upcoming Georgia Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Augusta will host a Spanish-language preaching conference. Featuring speakers from the Dominican Republic and Oklahoma as well as Georgia, it will encourage and exhort Hispanic Georgia Baptist pastors in their native language.
The GBMB is also having an impact internationally. In late 2021, teams of Georgia Baptist pastors visited Argentina and Peru on vision trips. They were able to connect with local pastors and make plans for Georgia Baptist churches to support those ministries.
This year, a team led by Gary Leutzinger, Associational Strategist Missionary for the South-Central Baptist Network, traveled to Cucuta, Colombia, to distribute eyeglasses and share the Gospel. And Kenny Sexton, pastor at Satilla Baptist Church in Wray, Ga., took a team to Guatemala to help with outreach events, pastoral training and more.
Georgia Baptists are involved in similar efforts to support believers and make disciples in Nicaragua and Ecuador as well.
The North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board are active in mobilizing and training Spanish speakers to share the Gospel in Hispanic communities and countries.
Send Relief is partnering with Texas Baptists to open a new ministry center in Laredo, Texas. The center will connect local churches with opportunities to minister to families in the Rio Grande Valley area on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
IMB missionaries are active throughout the Hispanic world, in both permanent and temporary capacities. Recently, a group of Spanish-speaking young adults from Florida traveled to Guadalajara on a short-term trip to team up with local missionaries and share the Good News. The impact they were able to make was magnified by the fact they could communicate with Mexicans in their own language.
Our Hispanic friends, neighbors, and co-workers are just as hungry for and in need of the truth of salvation by grace through faith as those that speak English. The Southern Baptist community is active at every level to reach the lost among the Hispanic community. Those efforts require your prayers and support.