Picture in your mind today’s Hispanic (Latino/Latina) leader. What image comes to mind? Let me tell you what I’m seeing here in Virginia.
I see, first of all, Latina leaders who look like Artemia Tamayo. Young, outgoing and energetic, Artemia – or Archie as her family and friends know her – has long been a leader in her father’s church in Alexandria where he pastors la Iglesia Bautista Hispana Emanuel, and among Latino churches and youth in the NorthStar Church Network in Northern Virginia.
But I really saw her shine when she, along with our son Jason, planned and led a VBS-focused mission project in several Romani churches in Hungary in 2008 in connection with our trip to the Baptist Youth World Conference in Leipzig, Germany that year. I just stood back (and mainly stood out of the way!) as she expertly led a team of 10 Latino youth and 4 chaperones in ministry to Romani children through music, games, crafts and Bible study activities.
Since then, Archie has demonstrated herself a leader in WMU of Virginia, she’s a seminary student at the John Leland Center for Theological Studies, and (boy am I proud of this!) she was asked to serve on the task force to recommend the next CBF executive coordinator!
Yet when I widen the lens of my mind’s eye, I also see many other Latinos, stepping up to the plate and leading churches across Virginia and beyond in pastoral, teaching, and serving duties. In conjunction with the Latino Network of Virginia Baptists, the Leland Center in Arlington and Newport News is committed to providing Certificate- and Diploma-level training in Spanish to Latino leaders where they live and serve. I see these Latino and Latina leaders seeking to become better prepared for the work God is calling them to do. I see them yearning to take God’s word to both Spanish- and English-speaking populations, and even beyond!
I guess what I mostly see, then, are not Latino/Latina leaders but rather LEADERS…PERIOD! They aren’t simply leaders of Latino churches, but they are MY leaders, MY pastors, and MY teachers, that is, leaders who pastor and teach me in the ways of God’s kingdom. And I, for one, am anxious to keep learning at their feet!