Ramseur, NC — Joaquin Martinez was ordained to the Gospel ministry by First Baptist Church, Ramseur, on Sunday, March 20, 2011.

That’s a one-line summary of what happened that day.

But here’s the rest of the story.

First, note the number of Hispanics in Ramseur and surrounding Randolph County has climbed steadily in recent decades. North Carolina’s Hispanic growth was one of the fastest in the nation during the 1990’s, seeing an almost 400 percent population growth. The Hispanic population in Ramseur and surrounding Randolph County grew by more than 1,400 percent during the same period.

Some churches retreat or close down when communities change so abruptly.

After a time of reflection and prayer, First Baptist Church’s leaders decided to reach out instead.

“Our community has more Hispanics now. We knew the church should reflect the community. We prayed for guidance on how to reach out to our community,” said John Fogarty, chairman of deacons.

As part of their searching, the First Baptist leaders called on Guillermo Soriano, consultant in multicultural evangelism with the Baptist State Convention. Soriano, himself a native of Honduras, counseled patience and prayer, promising God would open doors for ministry when the time was right as he came to meet with First Baptist leaders.

As those meetings were under way, Soriano was contacted by Manuel Chacon, missionary and pastor of Roca Eterna Baptist Church in Dale City, Va., near Washington, D.C. One of Chacon’s member families was moving back to Ramseur, where they had lived earlier. And the man in the family wanted to reach Hispanics for Christ and start a church. That was Joaquin Martinez.

It was just the kind of God’s timing Soriano had talked about. “Joaquin had lived here before and wanted to move back to live. He was looking for a place to get started,” Fogarty said.

Soon First Baptist had endorsed the ministry of Martinez and later licensed him to the Gospel Ministry. The church Martinez is starting, also called Roca Eterna (Eternal Rock), has been meeting in First Baptist Church’s building and growing slowly.

That growth was evident in the March 20 service: Immediately after being ordained, Martinez stepped into the baptistry and baptized Mrs. Alicia Rosales, a new believer.

Chacon brought a van full of his members from Virginia to support Martinez and his new ministry.

“For us, it is an amazing experience to see him ordained, because God has been working both in the two churches in Virginia and North Carolina and through the Virginia Convention and the Baptist State Convention to bring it all together,” Chacon said. During the ordination service, Chacon introduced Martinez and the family to the combined congregations of First Baptist Church and the two Roca Eterna churches.

Ron Coleman, a minister and First Baptist Church member, delivered the ordination sermon and presented the certificate of ordination and a Bible to Martinez; Guillermo Soriano delivered the charge to the churches; and John Fogarty conducted the traditional ordination examination of Martinez.

It was a big, God-directed step forward for First Baptist Church in reflecting the changing community around them as hoped for by Fogarty and other leaders.

Please click on link to see photos http://www.firstbaptistramseur.com/Ordination/index.html.

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