JUNEAU, Alaska (BP) – Members of Rescate Church, the only Hispanic Southern Baptist Church in Alaska, have seen great spiritual fruit in the last couple of years and desire to continue growing their ministry by planting more Hispanic churches throughout the state.
Mario Morales, pastor of Rescate Church, told Baptist Press despite the church’s essentially having to start over after the COVID-19 pandemic, the congregation has grown to 25 members and baptized seven people in the last year.
Beyond his family, Morales said most of the members of Rescate have come from a unique outreach – his job at Home Depot.
Morales is the only Spanish-speaker who works at the store, and therefore any Hispanic customer who needs help is sent to him. Many of the members of the church have come through these conversations and connections.
His job at Home Depot is not just an avenue to finance his ministry, it is a part of his ministry, Morales told BP.
“In September of 2020, the Lord blessed me to be able to start working at Home Depot, and that became the best evangelism strategy,” he said.
“People are able to learn that I am a pastor as we have conversations. That is my evangelistic approach. If they were to take away my Home Depot job tomorrow, I would still go to Home Depot every week to buy a nail or something in order to interact with people and tell them about God.”
The journey to Juneau for Morales and his family began while he was pastoring a church in Wichita Falls, Texas. Morales has been a pastor for almost 30 years
One day, a pastor friend showed him an article about the need for pastors in Alaska, and he began researching the demographics of the state, and learning why the need was so great.
“One of things that captured my attention was how difficult it is to find pastors who are willing to step up in this ministry when there are several hurdles, particularly financially,” Morales said.
“I discovered the Hispanic population was a mission field. Seeing the need made me start praying that God would confirm that I needed to go.”
According to U.S. Census data, just over 7 percent of Alaska’s population is Hispanic, which is a higher percentage than southern states like Kentucky and Tennessee.
After a period of prayer and contemplation, Morales and his wife Migdalia contacted the North American Mission Board about starting a church in the state.