Hispanic church positioned to flourish in Belton
By Allen Palmeri
September 20, 2005
BELTON – When Mauricio Vargas, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) multicultural church planting strategist, visited the Belton area three years ago, he noted that many Hispanics from Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador were beginning to congregate.
He immediately began to envision a potential church plant. Little did he know how little time it would take for one united ministry operating out of two separate warehouses to take on the challenge of reaching not only the Anglo population of south Kansas City but also the Hispanic.
In 2003, LifeQuest Community Church was planted as an Anglo outreach, which in turn gave birth to La Iglesia de LifeQuest July 24. With 12 people receiving Christ as their savior in the first month, and 34 in worship Aug. 28, La Iglesia is the right church in the right spot for the right moment, Vargas said.
“I think that Belton is becoming a Central American/Mexican community,” Vargas said. “I think the whole south side of Kansas City has a tremendous number of Hispanics.”
Chris Pinion planted the Anglo church and is overseeing the Hispanic plant with lead pastor Ron Sifuentes and evangelism pastor Daniel Hermida. Vargas said that this team, given time, could very well wind up developing a multicultural congregation.
“I know that we have a Russian ministry, because more Russians are coming (to the Belton area),” Vargas said. “Hermez Moshi, an Iraqi pastor from St. Louis, and I did a survey for Middle Easterners, and that’s the region where the Middle Easterners are moving.”
Pinion’s vision is to plant reproducing churches where life transformation, as opposed to religious participation, is the norm.
“We feel like the church is the hands and feet, going out and bringing people the Gospel,” he said.
“With the Hispanics, there’s a lot of them that don’t know how to speak a lick of English, but they know that I l-o-v-e them. When they know that, then they’re willing to try to communicate with me.”
Vargas said that Sifuentes, a third-generation Mexican-American who was raised in the Kansas City area, and Hermida, a Mexican preacher who is gifted in evangelism, are a perfect fit for La Iglesia.
“Ron knows Anglo culture, and Daniel Hermida knows Mexican culture,” Vargas said. “Because of that, the two of them can reach a larger group of people.”
Sifuentes, 45, is a former software engineer with Sprint who is working to develop ministry teams for the new church. Sifuentes said his corporate background, in which he supervised about 20 people, is proving to be helpful at the church.
Last May, Sifuentes entered into a formal partnership with LifeQuest Church. In March, the Hispanic church plant began to move rather quickly though a series of events that led to its launch in the summer.
“I put together a campaign that was intended to serve the practical needs of the Hispanic community here in Belton,” he said. “We did that right before the launch of the church. I’ve met a lot of people within the Belton civic community, as well as the business community and school system, plus a number of people in the Hispanic community, and I’ve drawn upon those relationships now as I’ve tried to get the church started.”
The key to La Iglesia becoming a multicultural congregation would be to invite another people group into the building to study the Bible in their heart language.
“If they are believers, they will come on Sunday for their own Sunday School in their own language,” Vargas said. “A lot of them speak English, so Chris can reach them (when he preaches). Most of the multicultural churches, that’s what they do.
“You begin with one, two or three families and allow them to celebrate in their language.”
Sifuentes said the hand of God is clearly resting on the LifeQuest model of church.
“God is moving, it is His timing, and yes, He is blessing us because we have been faithful to Him through being patient and waiting upon His timing,” he said. “It’s been right at two years since He first called me into the ministry full-time, and now we’re seeing the fruits of the labors.”