Seminary student leading local Hispanic church

Communications Staff — September 23, 2003

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Brad White pastors a church in which many of the parishioners are still learning English as well as Baptist polity.

In July of 2002, White was named interim pastor of New Dawn Baptist Church, a Hispanic church in Ballardsville, Ky. Last May, ‘interim’ was dropped from his title and White—a master of divinity student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary—became the church’s pastor.

“There are several baptized believers in the church now and most of them have a Roman Catholic background,” White said. “They are not familiar with a Baptist understanding of the local church and of church membership.

“I am preaching a series now on the church and have just finished writing material for a new members class, so we will be able to give people an opportunity to join the church.”

New Dawn has eight members and averages 25-35 adults and 5-15 children in attendance each Sunday. The church still relies heavily on its sponsor church, Ballardsville Baptist Church, so the first goal is to help New Dawn become an autonomous church, White said.

The church is also helping its members to learn the English language. It holds English classes one day a week.

A native of Paducah, Ky., White graduated from Union University in Jackson, Tenn., in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a minor in biblical studies.

White studied Spanish throughout high school, but it was a mission trip to Peru following his sophomore year at Union that sewed the seed of desire for missions in White. It also caused White to change the focus of his studies.

“I came back with a passion for Hispanic missions,” he said. “My major at Union up to that point had been biblical studies and Spanish had been my minor. After that trip, I switched and made Spanish my major and biblical studies my minor.”

Upon graduating from Union, he took a full-time ministry position in Jackson, serving in the Hispanic ministry of Poplar Heights Baptist Church, where he remained in 2000-2001. He worked part-time at the church in 1999.

Brad’s wife, Cassie, also a Paducah native, shares his love for Hispanic people and culture. Cassie studied Spanish for three years in high school and majored in the language at Union University, where she met her future husband.

Like her husband, a mission trip proved pivotal in shaping Cassie’s future. She traveled to Nicaragua the summer after her senior year in high school. It sparked an interest in missions and an appreciation for Hispanic culture.

“After learning about the culture in my classes and after many more trips to Latin America, I knew that I wanted to be involved in ministry to Spanish-speaking persons in some capacity,” she said.

“Then, through dating Brad and being involved in the Hispanic congregation, my passion has grown. I found myself being drawn to Hispanics. I just really like them. I like engaging in conversation with them and I like participating in their culture. It is easy to be involved in ministry to people that I like so much.”

A missionary from Venezuela planted New Dawn in October of 2001. White planned on serving the church as interim until it found a pastor. After calling one candidate only to see him fall through, White was the natural choice.

While the church is growing in numbers, knowledge, and grace, the Whites still see their long-term future as existing on the mission field in Latin America.

“I knew after that mission trip my sophomore year in college that that was where God ultimately wanted me to be,” he said. “We have been happy to come here and meet a need. It is great to have an opportunity to do ministry here with these people.”

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