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Nine new churches in four years – church ploants multiply in Alabama Hispanic work

DECATUR, Ala. — David Smith, elder of the Beltline church, is smiling. His congregation of 700 is evangelizing, growing and planting new churches. He’s quick to credit such growth to the church’s new Hispanic ministry.
Beltline started two new churches in 2004. Since 1997 it has added 90 members through the Iglesia de Cristo, a Spanish-language congregation led by Justo Dorantes.
Dorantes left Mexico in 1992 to begin studies in ministry at Sunset International Bible Institute, Lubbock, Texas.
Smith said, “The numeric growth of the Beltline church during the last several years has been through evangelism of the Hispanic population in our city.”
Dorantes, who came to Beltline in 1997 says his philosophy is not only to “contact, teach and baptize people, but to mature them in the knowledge of the Lord.
“Many will become preachers. Others will reach their families, and others will strengthen the churches where they will worship.” Dorantes philosophy is proving true, as seven men in his preacher-training classes have planted new congregations since 2000.
With Beltline’s help, two more Hispanic churches in Alabama have been planted by David Dorantes, Justo’s brother, and Carlos Perez, a Dorantes’ family friend.
Five of the new churches are in Alabama, three in Mexico and one in Guatemala, said Daniel Truitt, Beltline deacon involved in the Hispanic ministry.
Three of these nine church planters work with their congregations fulltime, and six, parttime.
The new congregations and their founders, locations and year begun are:

  • 2000: Tanner, Ala., by Fidel Mendoza; Veracrus, Mexico, by Elias Mendoza; and Cuernavaca, Mexico, by Mario Nava. Elias Mendoza and Nava began their works in their hometowns.
  • 2001: Hispanic congregation, Mayfair church, Huntsville, Ala. by Benjamin Colunga.
  • 2002: Merida, Yucatan, Mexico by Reyes Medina.
  • 2003: Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, by Jose Martinez; and Hispanic congregation, Collinsville, Ala., by Carlos Perez. Quetzaltenango is Martinez’ hometown.
  • 2004: Hispanic congregation, Hoover church, Birmingham, Ala., by David Dorantes; and Hispanic congregation, East Colbert church, Ford City, Ala., by Luis Hernandez.

A 10th minister associated with Beltline, Bernardo Sanchez, is preaching at the Albertville, Ala., Hispanic congregation during a minister search.
The Mayfair, Collinsville and Hoover churches asked the congregation for help in forming their Lation congregations, and Dorantes, Smith and Truitt “visited these congregations and explained what we were doing at Beltline,” Truitt said.
The trio is now consulting with congregations in California and Tennessee interested in planting Hispanic works.
Truitt said “The church-planting aspect of this work has been one of the most rewarding aspects for me.
“When we began this work seven years ago, I never dreamed we would become a ‘missionary factory.’ It has been the most spiritually-uplifting work I’ve done as a deacon.”

Filed under: National Staff Reports

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