Texans partner with New Orleans, Montana and Cuba
October 1st, 2018 / By: Karen L. Willoughby | TEXAN Correspondent / comments
The 2,680 churches in the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention have new partnerships: in Montana and in Cuba, both of which started in 2017, and in New Orleans, which is new this year.
“We’ve chosen these partnerships because we can help with church planting, missions mobilization and revitalization,” said Doug Hixson, the SBTC director of missions and church planting. “We’re excited to see what God is going to do with and through these partnerships.”
One of Montana’s 138 Southern Baptist churches utilizes Texas mission teams in a way that shows the similarities between the two states. Valley Community Church in Miles City, Mont., shares two-man teams from Texas with area ranchers, who get help from volunteers experienced in building and repairing fences. At the same time they learn of a love incomparably bigger than the blue Montana sky.
Though it’s the fourth-largest state in the nation by physical size, Montana has a bit more than 1 million people, according to the latest government statistics. Twelve counties have fewer than 2,000 residents each, and Billings, the largest city, has a population of just over 110,000.
“We have some very remote church locations and very small congregations,” Barrett Duke told the TEXAN. He is executive director of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention. “But we have discovered a great thirst for God’s Word and fellowship in these remote parts of the state that we believe we should try to meet.”
Revitalization of churches and training student evangelism workers are other ministry elements of Texas’ partnership with Montana, SBTC Missions Director Doug Hixson said.
“The many similarities between Montana and Texas make our partnership for ministry a natural fit,” Duke said. “The churches and staff of the SBTC have vast resources of knowledge and missions experience to share with Montana churches and staff. We are benefiting already from our partnership, and we’re just getting started.”
SBTC churches are working with the West Cuba Baptist Convention to plant 20 churches in the Havana area, which has 2.2 million residents (and more than 1 million tourists in 2017) in what is the capital, major port and leading commercial center of Cuba.
David Ortega, SBTC church planting strategist and catalyst in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, took four pastors with him to Havana in early June.
“From that trip we have two churches that have partnered with the West Cuba Baptist Convention,” Ortega told the TEXAN. “This October, I will take another team of pastors to see the work and see about joining the partnership.
“Pastor Juan Carlos, the director of missions for the West Cuba Baptist Convention, said he and the convention are really appreciative of the partnership because it will help them to plant those 20 churches in the Havana area,” Ortega added.
Contact Ortega at firstname.lastname@example.org to participate in the next vision tour.
SBTC chose New Orleans as its SEND City partner this year, after concluding its five-year Seattle partnership, because of its proximity to Texas, SBTC Missions Director Doug Hixson said.
The million-plus residents of New Orleans are just a five-hour drive from Houston, seven-plus from Austin or Dallas.
“God has really blessed the work in New Orleans,” Hixson said. “They’re seeing churches planted in some very hard areas.”
The city at the mouth of the Mississippi River has just one Southern Baptist church for every 7,252 people, SEND City Missionary George Ross told the TEXAN.
“Since Hurricane Katrina, more than 40 churches have been planted and hundreds have come to Christ, and there is still much work to do,” Ross said. “Churches plant churches and SEND New Orleans is here to serve your church in taking the next step of missional engagement. Thank you SBTC for believing we can do more together to advance the gospel, than alone.”