four for the price of ONE
Outreach to the Hispanic community of East Tennessee yields a bountiful harvest.
by Shane Wilson
To learn more about the ministry of Free Will Baptist Home Missions, visit www.homemissions.net.
WHEN SHANE AND LUPITA WILSON were commissioned to start a Free Will Baptist Hispanic Church in northeast Tennessee in May of 2002, they had no idea how much God was going to move. Brother Shane says, “The Bible tells us that God is able to do much more than we can ask or even think, and that is definitely the case here.”
In just five years, God has raised up not just one, but four Hispanic mission works in Johnson City, Greeneville, Kingsport, and Bristol. Brother Shane continues, “I firmly believe the Hispanic work is the future of the church in North America. People came to our Johnson City congregation from eight counties, and God began to lay on my heart in 2004 that each of these cities needed their own work and their own pastor.”
God provided the buildings and the pastors. The Johnson City congregation was able to pay off their building in a little more than a year, and they quickly turned their focus to other mission works. They began the next one in Greeneville. Shane invited Luis and Esmeralda Nuñez, friends developed during eight years in Mexico, to help develop the new work. “We sent Brother Luis to our Hispanic Bible Institute in Inman, South Carolina, to get prepared for the Greeneville work. I hated to lose them. They were such a big help to me in Johnson City, but it was for a greater good.”
The Wilson’s felt that even more Hispanic souls could be reached for Christ by sending workers from the Johnson City Church to the other cities, even though it meant a temporary loss for the Johnson City congregation. “The Central Quarterly of the Union Association picked up the work in Greeneville, allowing me to concentrate on our next project—Kingsport. We had a good number of people already in Kingsport, so starting that mission was not too difficult.”
Again, God supplied the pastor. Miguel and Lorena Marias went to The Gwen Hendricks Hispanic Bible Institute in Inman, South Carolina, to prepare to serve God full time in the new church. “Brother Miguel and Lorena are ‘home grown,’” says Pastor Wilson. “They were saved, discipled, and even married in our church! They are doing a great job, and I am amazed at what God has done in their lives in such a short time.”
The Kingsport church soon purchased a building with the help of Home Missions, and the congregation continues to grow. “Our next goal is to pay off the Kingsport building,” Shane says.
The Wilsons soon realized that the nearby city of Bristol, home to Bristol Motor Speedway and the famous NASCAR race, had no Hispanic work. “There has never been in the history of Bristol a Bible believing Spanish congregation until now,” he shares. “There was such a great need.”
Photo: Shane Wilson baptizes converts.
After praying about where to meet and who to send to the new field, Héctor and Silvia Pérez answered the call. “Hector and Silvia were saved, baptized, and taught through our ministry. We are praying and supporting them all we can, and the work is flourishing. They currently share a building with another congregation, but I anticipate the day when the Bristol work will also have its own building.”
Shane and Lupita stay busy, sometimes visiting three (and occasionally all four) of the mission works on a given Sunday. They believe their work is not over, but they are getting closer to their goal of four self-supporting, Spanish-speaking churches. Shane says, “We are so thankful for God’s grace and for our supporters who have helped make all this possible. Through their prayers and sacrificial gifts, literally thousands have heard the saving Gospel of Christ in their language in East Tennessee, and many, many have responded making Christ their Savior and Lord.”
These faithful home missionaries started out to begin a single Hispanic mission work, and by God’s grace and direction, four churches are the result. FOUR. Four for the price of one…that’s not a bad deal!