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vision for a changing america

by Rick Bowling

For more information about the FWB Home Missions Department (now North American Ministries), please visit

THE FACE OF AMERICA IS CHANGING RAPIDLY. People from around the world are coming to America. Many debate the advantages and disadvantages of this influx of people—from job availability to legal status, whether people should speak the English language, and on and on. All of these debates are valid and the issues need to be addressed. But the church only needs to find the answer to one question. Have these people ever heard the gospel? How we can minister to such a large number of people? We can be sure that the soul of every man, woman, and child coming to our country is important to God!

Expanding the Vision

God addressed the need for cross-cultural evangelism in the Free Will Baptist movement through men of vision. One such man was Trymon Messer, whose heart beat for the lost souls around him. Brother Trymon realized that if Free Will Baptists didn’t begin a ministry among the Hispanic population immediately, the opportunity would be gone. So, he set into motion a plan for taking the gospel to a nation within a nation.

The church only needs to find the answer to one question. Have these people ever heard the gospel?

When Trymon Messer moved off the scene as director of Home Missions, God replaced him with a man who has a similar vision for reaching the Hispanic population of the United States. Bro. Larry Powell is always ready and willing to lend prayer and financial support.

As this cross-cultural ministry began, God gave FWB state leaders a vision for evangelizing the Hispanic population in their states. Today, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, California, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas have stepped forward to provide Free Will Baptist workers for cross cultural outreach.

The United States is the second largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world. Over forty-one million Hispanics live within its borders. A large number of Hispanic missionaries, preachers, and teachers are needed to reach this vast number of people. God needed someone with a vision for educating these workers, and He found such a man in Inman, South Carolina— Earl Hendrix.

A New Horizon

With the help of Hispanic pastors, Brother Hendrix and I developed the curriculum to be used by the Gwen Hendrix Hispanic Bible Institute. Thirty-three students have graduated already, and twenty-nine of those graduates are working in Hispanic Free Will Baptist ministries across the country. The institute not only trains workers for the United States, but now is working to provide student visas to young people in Latin America so they can return to their countries and build Free Will Baptist churches.

The work has just begun, however. We need others to open their states to Hispanic ministry. Supporting the Gwen Hendrix Hispanic Bible Institute can send missionaries throughout the Hispanic-speaking world. It is God’s will for every person to have everlasting life. We do not want people to live within the shadow of a Free Will Baptist church and never hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. God is opening doors and touching people’s hearts every day through Hispanic ministry. The question is…CAN HE COUNT ON YOU TO DO YOURPART?

Rick Bowling has served as a Free Will Baptist pastor in Kentucky and Missouri. He and his family also served successfully as foreign missionaries in Uruguay. Rick is currently ministering as the Director of Hispanic Ministries.





©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists