Monday, January 28, 2019

God is always at work around you

Experiencing God: Reality 1 

When a missionary enters a “pioneer” area they tend to think that they are bringing God into a “godforsaken” land. I was a Marine attending a very mission minded Southern Baptist Church in North Carolina when I received orders to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. In my mind, the north was the realm of atheism and I saw God's hand in providing me an opportunity to bring the gospel to a sinful people.

I was surprised to find Christians in Maryland and a new church start in the community where I had moved. I quickly found a home there and was licensed, mentored and ordained by a people who were mission minded and eager to train a young man with a call to ministry. I learned that God was at work in Maryland long before He arranged for me to arrive.

From Maryland, I went to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I had pictured myself as a youth pastor in an outlying rural community. Apparently, so had every other ministry student. I found myself, instead, the pastor of an inner-city new church start just outside the French Quarter.

God had been at work in advance of my arrival. There were seminary students who had arrived at NOBTS for reasons unrelated to my church who partnered with me in this God-sized adventure. They were sojourners on a quest for their own God-driven destinies.

Looking back I can see how God had been at work in my life and in the life of Baptist Temple to create the wonderful ministry that has emerged. I know that He has been at work carefully selecting who would be a part of the future and who would not. Even now He is developing leaders who will lead Baptist Temple into the future.

God is always at work around us. We must open the eyes of our heart to see what he is doing. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

A place for children of all abilities to play together

Jeff and Jonathan assemble a playscape
Baptist Temple recently received a check for $7395 from the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio to build an inclusive playground on the Southside. Inclusive playgrounds allow children of different ability levels to play together. They can inspire mutual understanding, friendships, and a real sense of community.

Play is an important part of a child's development. It helps them to develop social, physical and problem solving skills. However, children with disabilities often lack places to play. This is especially true in the Southside of San Antonio; an area declared to be a very low opportunity area for children (according to Furthermore, we are in an area identified by the federal government as economically depressed (Eastside Promise Zone). A community survey estimates that there are more than 1000 children with disabilities in Baptist Temple's immediate vicinity (Highland Park).

Social isolation can be more painful to live with than the physical or development disabilities themselves. Many kids with disabilities spend less than two hours a week with their peers outside of classroom. A study by the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor, shows that 53% of disabled kids have no friends.

Nora Gonzales, mother of a child born missing arms and parts of his legs, remembers her son playing at Respite Care's inclusive playground, “I remember seeing my little boy having a good time. He could explore and excel in his environment,” she said.

Her son, Xavier, is now a 19 year-old college student. Nora attributes his growing independence to services that she and Xavier were able to access. They want that access for other children with special needs.

Everyone benefits. Children who learn to play with children of all ability levels will be more prepared for a diverse work environment. An inclusive playground shows that everyone has value. “[Inclusive playgrounds] are a big step to making the world a more inclusive place,” said Xavier.

The first phase of the playground is complete and features accessible playscapes suitable for children aged two and under. This was was made possible by the Baptist Health Foundations grant plus additional gifts through the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation and from Baptist Temple members.

We are currently raising funds for the second phase for children age five and up,” said Jorge Zayasbazan, pastor of Baptist Temple.

This phase, too, will include wheelchair access and features for the mobility impaired. “We want all children to feel welcome and included,” said Zayasbazan

Monday, January 07, 2019

Baptist Temple Year in Review: 2018

Xavier, Nora, Jorge and Robert receive grant from Baptist
Health Foundation on behalf of Baptist Temple.

The dedication of the OLAYA LONG MISSION HOUSE, on our 107th anniversary (December 9), was the high point of a another victory-filled year of ministry. The journey began in the Summer of 2017 when the house to the east of our property line became available. We began to pray for vision and provision.

God gave us a vision to use the house as a residence for ministry interns so they could add practical experience in a multicultural, urban setting to their classroom learning. Over the last ten years, Baptist Temple has worked with over 20 interns. We have a strong commitment to train future generations of urban ministers.

Financial gifts, labor and other support from George and Olaya Long, Ed and Rose Flynn, Jean Williams, Buster Snellgrove, FBC Corsicana, FBC San Marcos, Woodland Baptist Church, Crosspointe, Inc., the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), and the members and friends of Baptist Temple made this ministry vision a reality.

The SOLAR PANELS on our roofs were completed in May. They belong to a venture capital firm who sells energy to CPS. In return, we receive 3 cents per kilowatt (over $600 on a good month). Our primary motivation is to help tilt the scale in favor of renewable energy and energy independence. Tending the planet was humanity's first job.

Another big event this year was the completion of the cell tower. This will improve technological access for our community and provide funds to support our expanding ministry.

This year we welcomed FUNERALCARING® USA to our family of churches and agencies serving our community. FuneralCaring® USA is the leader in affordable funeral services in San Antonio, helping folks celebrate the life and the memory of loved ones with a dignified funeral at a reasonable cost. They provide support to grieving families with high-quality, value-driven merchandise, superior service, and uplifting facilities.

Also, NEW TO THE BT CAMPUS this year are the Message Church (a CBF-related new church start that worships at 9 AM in the chapel), Club Lighthouse (a Christian performing arts ministry), and Nora Gonzales (Metrohealth Community Health Worker).

We created A NEW LIFE FOR THE LIBRARY by moving into the large hallway outside the classrooms on the second floor of building 4. Books that had not been checked out for decades were removed and children's books from Jubilee Academy were merged in. We hope that the increased visibility will increase the number of books checked out by the children and adults on the BT Campus.

Our deacons continue to grow in their ability to minister to our members. This year we ordained long-time member Melissa Baxter and selected Roger and Rosie Ramon and Armando and Rosalinda Acosta as yokefellows. A yokefellow goes through a period of training, prayer and reflection prior to ordination as a deacon.

Family Deaf Church, CBC Highland Park, a mission team from Baptist University of the Americas and Immanuel Motorcycle Ministry joined Baptist Temple in putting together another spectacular VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL. We had 102 students and 90 volunteers.


Our annual BACK 2 SCHOOL HEALTH FAIR immediately followed. Eighteen community organizations joined together to give out school supplies, hot dogs, information and more. Working with Metrohealth, the Moose Lodge and District 3, this year's event was the official Highland Park back to school event. Other family focused, community outreach events included the EASTER PARTY, the FALL FEST and the CHRISTMAS PARTY.

The GYM was humming all year as we hosted nine youth basketball teams and two adult recreational basketball groups. We hope to bring that level of activity to the FRITZ BUILDING, hosting classes everyday of the week. Robert Newman joined our pastoral staff as MINISTER OF ADULTS to help develop our weekday ministry and outreach efforts.

As the year came to an end, we were poised for our next major project. Grants of $7395 from the Baptist Health Foundation and $1000 from the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation have been added to the $5470 raised through our Mother's Day and Christmas offerings to fund phase one of our INCLUSIVE PLAYGROUND project. Our goal is to create a playground where all children can play together regardless of ability. Phase two will cost $80-100,000. We awaiting a decision on a $60,000 grant and will be applying for some other grants, as well as doing other fundraising events.

The new year will start with an EXPERIENCING GOD WEEKEND. We will be intentional about drawing closer to God and to each other as we prepare of a new decade of ministry to our community.