Voices: BUA: Bridge builders for God’s kingdom

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email

EDITOR’S NOTE: In commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month, this opinion article describes the significance of Baptist University of the Américas.

Bridges are essential parts of our lives, but most of the time we take them for granted. Day in and day out, we cross them to go from one place to another and do not give them a second thought. Still, we would not be able to get to our destination without them.

In the early 2000s, the motto of Baptist University of the Américas was “Bridging Cultures, Building Lives.” Even though we do not use this phrase anymore, it is still very much a part of who we are and what we do.

Every semester we have students from 15 to 20 countries who speak multiple languages. Most come from the United States and Latin America, but last semester alone, we also had students from Canada, China, India, Pakistan and South Korea. We are making and crossing bridges every day.

At BUA, we have what we call our ABCs. “A” stands for “Affordable,” “B” stands for “Biblical” and “C” stands for “Cross-Cultural.”

All of these speak to who we are and what we are committed to. However, the one characteristic that most distinguishes us from other schools is “cross-cultural.” What does being cross-cultural mean to Baptist University of the Américas and our students?

Bridging cultures

We are practicing for heaven.

The apostle John wrote: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes, peoples, and languages … crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9-10)!

In heaven, there will be people of every tongue, culture and skin color. Studying, working and living at BUA is practice for what is to come.

Sign up for our weekly edition and get all our headlines in your inbox on Thursdays

If we do not get along here, how do we expect to get along in heaven forever? It is not easy to do life with people different from us, but diversity makes things interesting and beautiful. That is one of the things I love about BUA.

We are preparing our students to thrive in a multicultural world.

The Bible was written in a remarkably diverse context. The people of Israel always were surrounded by people from other nations, languages and cultures. In Jesus’ times, the most common languages were Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic.

All great men and women in the Scriptures functioned among many cultures. The same is true today.

The apostle Paul wrote in: “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (Corinthians 9:22b).

Success in our ministry or career, but also in others coming to know Jesus, will depend greatly on how we function in a multicultural context.

Forming and inspiring leaders

The mission of BUA as an institution of higher education is the formation of cross-cultural Christian leaders.

We do this through our day-to-day interactions, our coursework—classes like “Cross-Cultural Leadership” and “Cross-Cultural Communications”—and through student missions experiences in Texas, other parts of the United States and the world.

Our students leave BUA with the competencies required to cross cultural divides and make a difference wherever the Lord may lead them. This has been the case for 75 years of our school’s history, and it will continue to be so in the future.

We are inspiring leaders to reach their potential for the glory of God.

I always am amazed when I see or hear about BUA graduates continuing their educational journey, earning post-graduate degrees and becoming leaders in their fields.

Many arrived in the United States with little to no English. They complete our English-as-a-Second-Language program and earn multiple degrees at BUA and other institutions. Our students come with a dream, and once they are here, they realize it is within their reach with the Lord’s help.

Impacting Hispanic Baptist life

For the longest time, BUA has been known as the producer of most Hispanic Baptist pastors in Texas Baptist life. Almost everywhere our staff goes, we run into a BUA graduate. They are leaders in the church, education, social work, mental health, music, business, law enforcement and many other fields.

Most of our pastors and ministers are bivocational and have a tremendous love for Christ and his kingdom. Each learned to build bridges across cultures while at BUA and have continued to do so for the rest of their lives.

During any given semester, the student population at BUA is between 85 to 90 percent Hispanic or Latino. The 2020 Census showed the Hispanic population in Texas grew by nearly 2 million in 10 years and was slightly below the white population (39.75 percent) at 39.26 percent.

There is no doubt Hispanics soon will become the state’s largest demographic group. Therefore, it is necessary for BUA to continue growing and developing bridge builders for the kingdom of God.

Bridges are essential parts of our lives, but most of the time we take them for granted. Day in and day out, we cross them to go from one place to another and do not give them a second thought. Still, we would not be able to get to our destination without them.

Dr. Gabriel Cortés serves as chief of staff at Baptist University of the Américas. To partner financially with BUA, visit https://www.bua.edu/en/giving/.

We seek to connect God’s story and God’s people around the world. To learn more about God’s story, click here.

Send comments and feedback to Eric Black, our editor. For comments to be published, please specify “letter to the editor.” Maximum length for publication is 300 words.

More from Baptist Standard

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email