HOUSTON (BP)—Union Baptist Association is investing in the lives of Houston-area Hispanic pastors, their wives and church leaders through its Transformative Leaders (Lideres Transformadores) training program.
“This is not just another retreat,” said Victor Marte, UBA Hispanic church consultant. “This is a two-year process that includes four retreats once every six months, and each retreat (focuses) in one of four areas of transformation.”
The pastors, spouses and church leaders who participate in the training will focus on personal growth to become more effective leaders, growing others through discipleship, transforming their community and transforming the world by being missionaries, he explained.
“Instead of just telling them ‘do missions,’ we teach them how to get involved with the agencies that handle human trafficking in the city. Houston is a hub of this,” Marte said.
“We have some members who can’t travel internationally, so we show them how to do missions at home. We show them how to work with refugees and diasporas.”
A community tour is part of the process to show participants opportunities for missions in the city.
“It’s more than going to China,” Marte said. “China is here.”
From humble beginnings
Pastors also learn how to develop and discern a mission and vision. They learn not only to communicate and implement their goals, but also to train leaders to help and to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation.
The program, which costs $130 to attend, has been running for more than 15 years and has trained close to 100 pastors and approximately 800 congregational leaders, consultants said.
“We started with just four or five pastors,” said Campo Londoño, Hispanic consultant for UBA and support pastor at Iglesia Bautista Horeb in Houston. “Not long after, we developed the training for the pastors’ wives and congregational leaders because we didn’t want the pastor to be alone in his new knowledge.”
If pastors try to implement what they’ve learned, but other leaders at the church “don’t know what they’re talking about … they stop using their new knowledge,” Marte said. “That’s why we started asking the pastors to bring their leaders to conferences tailored for them and (started) training them on how to support their pastors through this new process.”
‘Touch and change lives’
Victoria Fuentes, a pastor’s wife, counselor and women’s prayer and missions leader, conducts the women’s training portion of Lideres Transformadores. The training for women, Fuentes said, is similar to the pastors’ training, focusing on personal growth, the church, the community and missions.
At themed tea parties, women learn about unreached cultures, pray for people groups and learn about the roles and achievements of women in missions.
“It’s not just another training; it’s not just another retreat,” Fuentes said. “It goes further to touch and change our lives as Christians.”
Lideres Transformadores has not only provided training, but also has created connections and community, program leaders said.
“Houston has a large connected Hispanic church community because of Lideres Transformadores,” Marte said. “A mission group was born out of this initiative that does work in Senegal and other countries in that area. These pastors are even sending missionaries to those parts of the world to plant churches.”
Londoño also emphasized the sense of connection the training program has created, saying, “We feel that we are friends and brothers and that we are doing something together.”