BRYANT, Ark.—Iglesia Bautista La Gracia celebrated a dedication service last Sunday with Regular Baptist Builders Club Director Clare Jewell and Pastor Rhyjob “RJ” Cabugwas of First Baptist Church, Spring Valley, California.
First Baptist, which is mainly a Filipino church, is helping to plant this Hispanic church southwest of Little Rock, Arkansas, under the leadership of Pastor Oscar Galan and his wife, Bessy. The couple’s son Benjamin has been the Spanish pastor at First Baptist Church since 2016.
Clare Jewell says it’s a major breakthrough for the kingdom of God when one people group crosses over cultural boundaries to reach another people group. “It’s great to see this Filipino church demonstrate a real passion to reach Hispanics with the gospel,” Clare says. “It also demonstrates great faith when a relatively small church invests its resources to plant new churches.” That sacrifice, he says, enriches the church, the people it reaches, and the greater body of Christ.
Iglesia Bautista La Gracia is the fourth church that First Baptist has planted.
RJ credits the Lord and financial assistance from the GARBC for the success and growth of the church. Last year Regular Baptist Builders Club gave Iglesia Bautista a first-year $10,000 Start Up grant to help with the costs of operating the church, which meets on Sunday afternoons at Hurricane Lake Baptist Church in Bryant. Prior to COVID-19, the church had grown to about 60 people since it started in 2019.
“When we ventured into church planting, we had thoughts that we were the only ones doing it,” RJ says. “Knowing that the GARBC had that passion and came alongside us made us feel that we are not alone in this. They were a huge financial help, and through the available resources, it made God’s work manageable, knowing the GARBC is always there above and beyond for what they could do.”
RJ says it has been a blessing to see the fruit, dedication, and sacrifice that his church has experienced in such a short time. “Being able to witness the dedication of this new ministry venture is life changing!”
To begin the dedication service, Hermie Azores Jr., a deacon at First Baptist Church, read the church covenant between First Baptist and Iglesia Bautista. Pastor Oscar Galan translated into Spanish Clare Jewell’s challenge to the church to follow Jesus, be changed by Him, and engage in His mission. Clare told the congregation, “We all face a fork in the road: to go our way or God’s way. Let’s choose to follow Jesus so He can transform us into fishers of men.”
Oscar also translated for RJ. Speaking from 1 Timothy 3:1, he encouraged the church to pursue its “external ministry to reach the lost,” a ministry that comes from an internal passion for Christ. Following his message, he sang “He Who Began a Good Work in You” in English and Spanish.
To close the service, RJ invited Clare and Hermie onto the platform along with Oscar and Bessy. RJ led a prayer of dedication for the couple and Iglesia Bautista.
Oscar thanks Regular Baptist Builders Club and RJ for participating in the dedication service. Oscar says, “We thank God for the blessing of being able to work together in the preaching of the gospel, and also for the benefit of knowing that we have others praying for us and supporting our ministry.”
Clare says he is encouraged by Oscar’s outreach mentality. “It’s obvious that he is connecting with unchurched people all around the community to reach them for Jesus,” Clare says. “I am equally impressed by the vision of Pastor RJ to reach across the cultural divide to reproduce churches that will make an impact for years to come.”