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April-May 2016


Without Borders


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Blessed Beyond Measure

By Rhonda Whitley


Blessed beyond measure—I really have no other way to describe the amazing men who have been part of the history of Martin Hill Free Will Baptist Church, our “home church. ” We have seen men of great integrity, men of great calling, men who have pursued the heart of God—each with a huge impact on our lives and the lives of our church family.

None had as great an impact on our family as Rick Bowling when he arrived in 1990. Something was different about him. Charismatic? No. Great etiquette? No. Great wisdom? Surely! But most of all, he was a man after the heart of God. During his ministry, my husband Jack came to know Jesus as Savior and surrendered to the ministry himself.

To say previous pastors of Martin Hill were passionate about evangelism would be an understatement. However, this man’s passion for the souls of the people of Uruguay (the field from which he had just returned) was evident in every aspect of his ministry at Martin Hill. He often reminisced about the times he was able to preach the Word to people who had a “jaw-dropping” experience as they heard the salvation message for the first time. His passion for missions was woven into every fiber of his life and evident in each sermon and lesson.

Looking back, perhaps God called him to our church as a training ground for pastoring and mentoring—a task he performed well. Jack and I moved on to our own work, but it came as no surprise when we learned the Lord had led Rick into a new work involving Hispanic missions. Since that time, passionately proclaiming the love of Jesus to this fast-growing people group has paved the way for thousands to come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior in the United States.

The Lord didn’t stop there. Over the past 15 years, Hispanic mission work, with the U.S. at its hub, has spread across the globe. Many men have come to the U.S. to learn and understand the Word of God in their own language. Some take it back to their native lands, while others remain in America to share the Good News with their people here. Whether here or abroad, they are lighting the way for Spanish-speaking people everywhere to come to salvation through Jesus Christ.

Today, God’s work among Hispanic Free Will Baptists is evident across America, with church plants in Arkansas; Kentucky (3); Tennessee (6); Virginia (3); West Virginia (2); Georgia (4); California (4); Oklahoma (4); Puerto Rico; North Carolina (2); Indiana (2); and Kansas. Somewhere, in a church close to you, God’s hand has been moving.

  • Arkansas: Pastor Micael Gonzalez is a graduate of the Bible institute. He is making friends and hosting home Bible studies.

  • Kentucky: Dr. Rufo Gomez leads two works in Lexington, three works in Georgia, and two works in Florida and Mexico.

  • Tennessee: Pastor Hector Perez recently started a work in Bristol and purchased a building to renovate for that ministry. He also heads up works in North Carolina and Tennessee, and has taken responsibility for the work in Cordele, Georgia.

  • West Virginia: Pastor Josue Rivera is starting the second work in West Virginia in Huntington, with the help of Rev. Carl Lily, who is assisting in support and ministry.

  • Georgia: Currently, four churches have begun in Georgia. The work in Cordele, Georgia, has been underway for several years, but it is only now becoming a healthy, growing ministry.

  • South Carolina: Pastor Fernando Bustamante is working in five areas across the state. The Charleston work will begin meeting in a new building soon. Pastor Bustamante also oversees a number of works in Mexico.

  • Florida: Pastor Oscar Portillo and his congregation in Fort Meyers will start another work in the Fort Meyers area this year.

  • California: Pastor Alfredo Botello (Oklahoma) recently guided two churches into our movement. These churches have four additional works in Mexico and California.

  • Oklahoma: Pastor Botello has been struggling through expensive renovations to bring the building up to codes. The church has spent $80,000 and the Bible institute added $22,000. Remember this work especially in prayer.

  • Puerto Rico: Pastor Jose Correa now has two works in Puerto Rico and one in Jacksonville, Florida. While meeting in Jacksonville one Sunday, through Skype, we had services with the church in Puerto Rico. The congregations do this on a regular basis.

  • North Carolina: Pastor Hector Perez has begun two churches and is exploring opportunities to start other works in the state.

  • Indiana: Pastor Jaime Hernandez shepherds two churches in addition to his hard work in correspondence for the institute.

  • Kansas: Pastor Alfredo Botello (Oklahoma) has begun a ministry near Bartlesville.

  • What a continued blessing the Earl and Gwen Hendrix Hispanic Bible Institute has been! Seven students recently graduated from the institute, and the school has received 19 applications for next semester.

And God’s blessings do not stop there. Did you know we have a chaplain coming from Free Will Baptist work among the Spanish-speaking population? Rafael is working hard to become the first Hispanic Navy chaplain. Former chaplain Kerry Steedley has been instrumental in this process.

We continue to produce literature. Pastor Rickey Evans recently printed “The Romans Road” tract in Spanish and is giving it free to all our Hispanic churches. This will be a great help.

What does the future hold for Free Will Baptist work among Hispanics? We will open several new works this year: O’Fallon, Missouri; Jacksonville, Florida; Richmond, Virginia; Selmer, North Carolina; and Fort Meyers, Florida. Missionaries are on the move and working toward four common goals: preaching the gospel, baptizing converts, discipling saints, and opening new churches. This year holds much promise for the work of our Lord.

The excitement of this ministry is contagious! Get involved. What part would you like to play? Prayer warriors are in high demand. Will you bow before the throne of God on behalf of these missionaries? The fields truly are white unto harvest. Is God working? Absolutely. We are blessed beyond measure. God is good all the time…and all the time, God is good.


About the Writer: Rhonda Whitley and her husband Jack minister at the New Lebanon FWB church in Tishomingo, Mississippi. She is an active member of her local WAC. Learn more about what God is doing among the Spanish-speaking population in North America:




©2016 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists