Anyra Cano has been the youth minister at Iglesia Bautista Victoria en Cristo in Fort Worth since 2008, the academic coordinator of the Christian Latina Leadership Institute since 2017, and is the coordinator of Texas Baptist Women in Ministry. From deep in the heart of one Texan, she shares her background and thoughts on church and ministry. To suggest a Baptist General Convention of Texas-affiliated minister to be featured in this column, or to apply to be featured yourself, click here.
Where else have you served in ministry, and what were your positions there?
I have served previously with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as an advocacy outreach specialist, bringing awareness of the needs to advocate against payday lending and advocating on behalf of our immigrant communities.
I also have worked for Buckner International as the Ethiopia and Guatemala program coordinator for international adoptions and as a missions coordinator.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the beautiful city of El Paso.
How did you come to faith in Christ?
I came to faith in Christ when I was only 9 years old. A deacon from our church came to visit my sister who had demonstrated her desire to follow Christ. I hid behind a couch in our family living room, and as Jim Murray shared John 3:16 with my sister, asking her to personalize it, I did the same. At that moment, I knew I wanted to follow Jesus. I chose to give my life to Christ that day, and the following Sunday, I made a public profession of my faith and was baptized.
Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?
• Baptist University of the Américas, Bachelor of Arts degree in biblical and theological studies with a minor in youth ministry
• Dallas Baptist University, Master of Arts in global leadership with a concentration in global studies
About ministry life
Why do you feel called into ministry?
I feel called to ministry because I have a love and passion to teach God’s word, to minister to those in need, and to empower and inspire others to find God’s given purpose. When I am doing ministry, I feel I am doing what God created me to do. I have seen God work through and in my ministry, and I have been affirmed by my church and other ministry partners.
What is your favorite aspect of ministry? Why?
My favorite aspect of ministry is teaching because it is exciting to see those you teach, and yourself, learn how the Holy Spirit brings freedom or empowers through God’s word.
What one aspect of ministry gives you the greatest joy?
Seeing my students put into practice what they have learned by loving God in serving the church and our community.
How do you expect ministry to change in the next 10 to 20 years?
I expect ministry to be more diverse in gender and ethnicity. That women and people of color would have a place at every leadership table, not because they are women or of a different ethnicity, but because the church sees the richness of their capacity, calling and gifts to lead in all areas of ministry.
If you could launch any new ministry—individually, through your congregation or through another organization—what would it be? Why?
I would love to launch a new ministry that helped the church in America to read and understand the Bible through the context of the marginalized and vulnerable.
What do you wish more laypeople knew about ministry or, specifically, your ministry?
I wish laypeople truly would believe that those of us in ministry are truly humans. We live lives just like them and experience the same joys, hurt, grief, fears, stress, etc.
What would you change about the Baptist denomination—state, nation or local?
I would want to change how we see and love each other, instead of demonizing each other for our difference of practices or how we understand Scripture, that we would learn to love each other besides our differences, and that we could find ways to work together in the areas we do agree with each other.
Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?
• My mother taught me the importance of education.
• Pastor Phil Parker, my pastor as a teenager, affirmed my calling to ministry and began mentoring me.
• Alicia Zorzoli was a mentor to me in a very vulnerable time in my life, and today, she is a mentor in ministry.
• Dr. Nora Lozano, professor of theology at Baptist University of the Américas, has mentored me in understanding who God is.
• Dr. Gus Reyes, executive director of the Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission, has mentored me in many areas of ministry.
• Debbie Wynne, a former supervisor at Buckner International, mentored me in how best to serve families and children.
• Stephen Reeves, the associate coordinator of advocacy at Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, has taught me so much about doing advocacy as missions.
What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
My favorite Bible passage is Psalms 40 because God rescues the psalmist from a muddy pit and restores his life to one that praises God in his way of life. When I read this Psalm, I can identify myself with the psalmist who has found herself in a muddy pit.
Who is your favorite Bible character, other than Jesus? Why?
My favorite character is the Samaritan woman because she goes from being someone who is completely isolated to a woman who was transformed so greatly by Jesus that she shamelessly went back to the same community that isolated her to tell them about the Messiah. She became an evangelist.
Name something about you that would surprise people who know you.
I love to ride my jet ski. When I am riding it, I feel like I am flying above water!
If you could get one “do over” in ministry, what would it be, and why?
When I worked as a missions coordinator and led mission trips, I was at a boys’ orphanage in Guatemala City. One of the kids turned 18 years old, and that day, he had to leave the orphanage. I was so nervous for him because he had nowhere to go and no one to go to. I remember praying for him and wishing him the best. If I can do that over again, I would have a local church ready to connect with him and be a resource to him as he learned to transition outside of an orphanage.