KANSAS CITY — The key to understanding Omar Segovia is commitment.
“When I first started coming to this church, somebody told me that it was transient,” said Segovia, who is pastor of Central Baptist Church, a congregation that runs 35-50 in Sunday worship. “It occurred to me, ‘What’s going to require people to commit?’
“Part of that commitment is actually moving into the neighborhood, living amongst people. I just noticed the relationships with the community are much deeper now. Basically if you appear as an outsider to the people, then their trust level will be lower.”
A case could be made for Segovia, who has connections all over the world, being the raw material that God is using to complete a mosaic of faith in the Pendleton Heights sector of the Independence Avenue corridor.
“Arabic is spoken by a number of different groups, and he speaks Arabic,” said Tom Johnston, professor of evangelism here at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the founder/director of the seminary’s evangelism team. “In fact, I almost think he is more comfortable with Arabic than Spanish. It’s very interesting. He’s tri-lingual with Arabic, English and Spanish.”
Segovia, who was born in Santiago, Chile, and raised in the cosmopolitan culture of Toronto, gives a lot of credit to Johnston for laying a solid foundation at Central Baptist as a former interim pastor. At one point Johnston, who was born in France as the son of missionary parents, determined that he needed to learn Swahili, so he did. He then discovered as he evangelized that Swahili is a language of choice for northeast Africa, because it crosses a lot of cultures.
“I would say Dr. Johnston is like the guy with the jumper cables,” Segovia said. “The red is for Jesus and the black is for the Bible. And there have been people in the past who have invested before.
“We are an evangelistic church,” he said with confidence. “We try and connect with people, even go door to door, but I think the next level would be actually living amongst them.”
Helping to provide logistical support is a unit called People Teams, led by a 28-year-old coordinator named Andrew Huesing. An envoy of the Blue River/Kansas City Baptist Association, Huesing plays soccer with internationals and builds friendships for the sake of the gospel. As he goes to the soccer field and beyond, he often finds himself tutoring the residents and their children.
“It’s mainly about relationships,” Huesing said.
Huesing, who has been active in his calling since 2008, is in the midst of the same committed lifestyle that Segovia is living in terms of leadership development. “Regular lay people can do this,” he said. “That’s our strategy as People Teams.” Plans are being formulated to increase the number of flags on display in the Central Baptist Church building. Right now there are 12.