MUSKOGEE — When Alexander Montero boarded a plane from Venezuela to Oklahoma to visit his son in March 2020, he didn’t expect that a global pandemic would shut down all travel and he would find himself calling Oklahoma home.
Now, three years later, Montero is leading a church plant in the city of Muskogee to reach his Hispanic neighbors with the support of the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
The Venezuelan native and agricultural engineer by trade has been in ministry for 40 years and has planted churches in the Venezuelan provinces of Lara, Portuguesa, Yaracuy and Apure and has led the Venezuelan Baptist Convention. But in his heart, he always felt the calling from God to plant a church outside of Venezuela.
“I didn’t intend it to be in the U.S. I thought it would be in another Latin American country, but God brought me here instead,” he said.
After filing paperwork and gaining legal status in the country, Montero met with Julio Crespo, Send Network Español’s south Champion and pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City. Crespo shared with Montero what church planting with NAMB’s support would look like to which Montero replied, “I will go if they will have me.”
“Two things caught my attention about pastor Alexander,” said Crespo. “The first thing is his humility. He could have taught me about church planting, but he was one of the best students we’ve ever had, and he was very active at Central Baptist Church; he was very loved at Iglesia Bautista Central.
The second thing is that pastor Alexander is a leader. Since he began planting in Muskogee, he has made efforts to unite Oklahoma pastors in praying for the state. The truth is that he and his wife are a blessing to us in Oklahoma.”
In August 2021 Montero began the residency program at Iglesia Bautista Central where he learned how to reach the Hispanic population living in Oklahoma, he built relationships with other area pastors and gained another perspective on ministry from his Guatemalan residency classmate. More recently, he attended a Send Network Orientation in Alpharetta, Georgia, where he heard from Send Network’s president Vance Pitman. “My eyes were opened to the bigger picture,” Montero said about the experience.
In May 2022, Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Muskogee was launched. Just as they were getting ready to launch, an older church in the area was closing its doors. Rather than see the building turned into anything other than a church, they donated it to Montero’s church plant. “It was unexpected, but it was a major blessing,” he said.
Since it launched, the church has contacted 400 Hispanic people living in their area, they have shared the gospel with 60, are currently discipling 10 and by offering free English classes they have made themselves known in their community.
As their first anniversary approaches, Montero is planning a block party in partnership with the Baptist association in Muskogee and other churches in the area. To reach Muskogee with the gospel, he said, all the churches must come together.
And when he says all people, Montero is talking about the 38,000 people that call the city of Muskogee home with 20 percent of them being Hispanics or Indigenous people. “My vision is that Iglesia Bautista Hispana will be a church where all people feel welcome.”
Published April 17, 2023