Barnabas Initiative for Hispanic Leadership Development
The Biblical Mandate
After His resurrection, Jesus gave His disciples a command: to go to all the nations and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything He commanded (Matt 28: 19-20).
Throughout Scripture and throughout recorded history, we see numerous examples of the Lord moving people for His purposes (Acts 17: 26-27). Sometimes (as with Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Jonah, Paul, and contemporary missionaries) he moves believers to places where they can minister in His name. In other cases, such as with Ruth, Naaman the Syrian who came to Elisha, the wise men from the East, or the Greeks who sought out Jesus (John 12: 20-21), He brings those who don’t yet know Him to a place where they can see the gospel lived out and hear it preached. For several decades, people from Hispanic countries have flooded into our land of opportunity. As a result, the United States has the second largest Hispanic population of any nation in the world and Hispanics are now the largest minority in the US.
MNA Hispanic American Ministries sees the challenges of our changing nation as an unprecedented opportunity – orchestrated by God Himself – to continue our PCA commitment to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
The leadership development structure
Humanly speaking, well qualified, trained and empowered leaders are the fuel that drives a movement of this magnitude. Of the more than 4200 PCA pastors, only a small percentage is Hispanic. MNA Hispanic American Ministries is already engaged in leadership development through traditional seminary education, church-based seminary education programs such as Spanish LAMP, cross-cultural apprenticeships and internships. But we need more laborers! The only way to see the total annual number of PCA church planters grow is to greatly increase our commitment to the long-term task of recruiting men with high leadership potential, training these men for the gospel ministry, and launching them into leadership roles within PCA churches and ministries.
The Barnabas Initiative for Hispanic Leadership Development is our comprehensive long-term strategy to see the total annual number of Hispanic PCA pastors and church planters grow in a self-perpetuating way. The two branches of the Barnabas Initiative for Hispanic Leadership are the national branch and the international branch. These two branches complement each other and contribute to the creation of a healthy leadership development ecosystem.
The National Branch
The Barnabas Initiative National branch will work with local churches, Presbyteries, and Church Planting Networks to hire a Hispanic Leadership Developer for their region. This person will be a strategic resource for the church and Presbytery. As a result of extensive networking and recruiting in the region this person will develop a rich pipeline of ministerial candidates, provide them with a variety of opportunities to learn ministry skills, help them design the best path for pursuing ordination in the PCA, and help place them into suitable opportunities.
The Leadership Developers will recruit candidates from our own PCA seminaries and college, along with laymen from our churches. There exist Hispanic pastors unaffiliated with a denomination though with interest in reformed theology. Leadership developers may also approach these as potential candidates.
The International Branch
Latin American missionaries who are Biblically and theologically trained and have an evangelistic zeal are a rich and unexplored gold mine of laborers for the Hispanic Harvest in the USA. The US Citizen and Immigration Services Department Religious Worker Program provides us with a legal path to bring such gifted men to labor in our churches. The Barnabas Initiative International branch will work closely with PCA churches with the vision and passion to plant Hispanic churches to identify, assess, and launch qualified Latin American missionaries to lead their church planting initiatives.
Since its inception in 1973, the PCA made the commitment to fulfill the Great Commission, in and out of the United States. Today, the PCA, through MTW, puts into the field one of the world’s largest Presbyterian missionary force. A great number of MTW missionaries minister in Latin America. These missionaries labor tirelessly to win people to Christ, disciple them, train leaders, plant churches, start seminaries, and eventually establish indigenous denominations. The fruit from that labor of love is that many Latin American countries have Presbyterian denominations. The largest Presbyterian denomination in Latin America, with 6,000 churches and two million members, is in Mexico.
These Presbyterian denominations in Latin America are zealous to fulfill the Great Commission. The Barnabas Initiative International branch provides an avenue for the PCA to work with them to reach the Hispanic Harvest in the USA. This fraternal collaboration will strengthen our bonds of love with sister denominations throughout Latin America.
Our Hispanic Leadership Developers
Jeff White is the Director of Youth Leadership Development at Las Tierras Community Church in El Paso, Texas. He grew up in Guatemala City, met his wife Matheson at Appalachian State University, and studied theology at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary near Boston. Matheson studied Spanish Education at Appalachian State University and has been an English as a Second Language (ESOL) teacher in the Greater Boston Area. They have a baby girl named Poppie Marie.
Through partnerships at UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso), EPCC (El Paso Community College), and local high schools we seek to engage young Hispanic Americans in discipleship and apprenticeship opportunities in order to equip them to lead multiethnic ministries in the church and community.
Frank Matthews accepted the position of Hispanic Leadership Developer for the Greater Richmond Region. He is currently raising funds for his ministry. Frank and Suzanne have been married almost 20 years, and have 5 children. They have served in a variety of ministries including being missionaries in Peru and in two associate pastor roles in the United States. In his new role Frank will work to develop a rich pipeline of Hispanic ministerial candidates, mentor these men during their ministry preparation, and help place them into suitable ministry opportunities in PCA churches.