Church Planting in Arizona

Psalm 96:3

“Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples” (Psalm 96:2–3 NIV1).

In Phoenix, Arizona, Hernando and Alcira Cardenas live out this Scripture every day. Mr. and Mrs. Cardenas are able to take the gospel to the nations, because like so many church planters in the United States, the nations have come to them. Incredibly, Mr. Cardenas is currently planting two Hispanic churches.

The first church plant is the Spanish-speaking church of First Baptist Church, in Chandler, Arizona. First Baptist gives the Hispanic church free use of the building, sound equipment, and rooms for Bible study and meetings. “These brothers and sisters at FBC are unique,” shares Mr. Cardenas, “We have at least 15 ladies that prepare all kind of food, so goooood, which makes the smell of this church ‘tasty,’ and during the events is great. Every Wednesday the ladies cook dinner for the parents and children, many of whom have not had time to go home for supper and come to church to participate in one of the many events we have on Wednesday night.” This Hispanic congregation is primarily made up of people from Mexico, Central America, Cuba, and South America. There are also Spanish-speaking Americans who enjoy worshipping God in their heart language. Interestingly, Mr. Cardenas reports that this church also has an occasional visitor from Italy and a couple from Spain. Mr. Cardenas says “I think it is so great that God put all of us together to move His Kingdom in all areas.”

Mr. Cardenas’s second church plant is located in Casa Grande, Arizona. This church is unique because it is a cowboy church. The congregation is made up of Spanish-speaking cowboys (vaqueros), most of whom are ranchers and migrant workers who come to work in the fields. Mr. Cardenas says, “I love these people, they are honest and humble. All of the congregation are from Mexico border towns who came to improve their lives and their children’s education. These families are low income and they work on the farms in the desert.” The cowboy church gives Mr. Cardenas an opportunity to take the gospel to those living in both physical and spiritual poverty. “It is great being around cowboys praising God while they are with the horses and cows working . . . I love this place, the smell when we have rodeos is the best. The smell of a horse is special to me, the cooking in the open, and the food is even better. The (atmosphere) is fantastic, the wind, dust, music, all is fantastic, and it is heaven on earth to me.”

When asked if there was anything special Mr. Cardenas would like share, he said that he wanted us to know that it was never his plan to be a pastor, and it was definitely not his plan to become a church planter! He chose to go to seminary only for the purposes of deepening his relationship with God and comprehending Scripture more fully. In fact, he shares that he told the director of the seminary that he was certain he did not want to be a pastor. Mr. Cardenas says, “Well, God was up in heaven smiling, and I think He was saying, ‘You do not know my plans for you, so hold on and keep going with my plan.’ I am doing it. I am just following God’s call, whatever will happen, to Him all the glory.”

Please join us in praying for Mr. Cardenas as he works with Spanish-speaking people groups who often feel intimidated and live with the daily fear of insecure futures. Pray that God will help Mr. and Mrs. Cardenas to cultivate authentic relationships as they seek to build trust within their community. Ask God to give them strength and persistence as they surrender themselves wholly to Him each day. Ask Him to give them encouragement and endurance to run the race that He has set before them and to give them assurance that He who began this good work in them will be faithful to bring it to completion.

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1Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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