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April-May 2022

Everyday Discipleship


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From Honduras to Athens

By Joel Franks


Dreams don’t come true every day. In fact, many people would say a dream come true is the rarest event in life. But for the follower of Christ, dreams should come true, at least occasionally. We serve a mighty God. And when our dreams are in accordance with His will, we should expect to realize them. After all, that is what prayer is all about!

When B.J. Eaton and I started mapping out our design for planting a new Free Will Baptist church, we dreamed of a multicultural church body. But we were moving to Athens, Alabama. The churches in this area are, unfortunately, still largely separated by culture and ethnicity. For the first two years that Cultivate Church existed, we struggled to reach people who looked different from us. That’s not to say we didn’t have many visitors from various ethnicities, but the truth is our church was “whiter” than we had prayed it would be.

But we didn’t stop praying. We never stopped dreaming of a day when we would have a multiethnic congregation. And in 2021, God began to answer that prayer in His own timing. Pastor Amilcar Castro from Progresso, Yoro, Honduras was a friend of ours. We had been supporting him as he planted three different Free Will Baptist churches in five years. We had been to visit him, and he had come to visit us, and even preached in our church. Then God opened the door for Amilcar to move to the United States permanently.

That still didn’t mean Cultivate Church would be able to bring him to Athens. We are a new church plant and a joint project between North American Ministries and the Alabama Mission Board. As I prepared to talk with our leaders, I prayed I would not hear those dreaded words, “We’ve never done it like that before.” And God answered the prayer. Though Free Will Baptists had never started a church like this before, our leadership saw the value in doing so now.

Athens is experiencing explosive growth. Thousands of people are moving into this suburb of Huntsville every year. Many of these new people speak Spanish exclusively, and we were not equipped to reach them. Cultivate Church desperately needed help in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with Spanish-speakers. God heard our cry for help and worked everything out for Amilcar to come and work with us.

Though we faced uncertainty and unforeseen obstacles, the Lord was in control at every turn. Sometimes, it was a last-minute answer to prayer that paved the way—like when we couldn’t find housing for our new pastor and his family. No apartments or houses were available to rent for months. But right after I scheduled a call to tell them to postpone the move, a house became available a mile from the church. In just a few days, our church people had fully furnished the house and through another faithful supporter, provided a car.

This new ministry opportunity looks different than anything we have done in the past. Like it will be in heaven, we have one church that worships God together with different tongues. Over the last two months, we have seen many cultures represented: Hondurans, Cubans, Guatemalans, Venezuelans, Dominicans, and Mexicans have joined those born here in the States. We may all be different nationalities and cultures, but we follow the same Jesus!

On Wednesdays, we gather to eat a pot-luck dinner before Bible studies in Spanish for some and English for others. We have an English service on Sunday that some of our Latino brethren attend and a Spanish service some of the Anglo people attend. We may not comprehend everything, but we are there to worship God and minister to one another.

It is clear to everyone we are one Free Will Baptist church sent to reach the people of Athens with the gospel message. God is blessing the work. In the first two weeks of 2022, we have baptized three people. One looked like me. The others did not. Our dream is coming true before our tear-filled eyes.

About the writer: Joel Franks and B. J. Eaton are joint church planters with North American Ministries and the Alabama Home Mission Board to Athens, Alabama. Learn more:


©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists