July 21, 1999

795 Hispanic women rally in San Antonio
___By Marv Knox
___SAN ANTONIO--Christians who exercise faith, obedience and prayer can stand on God's promises, a San Antonio pastor told participants in the Celebrating the Hispanic Woman conference, July 9-10.
___"Standing on the Promises" was the theme for the fifth annual conference, held at First Baptist Church in San Antonio. It attracted 795 women and girls from across the state and as far away as Ecuador, Peru and California. Scores of them made decisions regarding their spiritual condition.
ALMOST 800 WOMEN attended the recent "Standing on the Promises" conference for Hispanic women in Wichita Falls.
___"'Standing on the Promises' is a reaffirmation of God's unyielding love, his offer of hope and his desire that we have a prosperous future," said Margarita Trevino, the conference's chairwoman and president of the Christian Education and Research Institute in Keller.
___"Let us stand on the promises of our Lord and Savior, knowing that we are never alone, even in the most difficult circumstances of our lives," Trevino told participants. "May our unity in praise, in song, in worship and in learning be a sweet aroma before God."
___Faith, obedience and prayer are keys to standing on God's promises, stressed Hiram Almirudis, pastor of Iglesia de Dios in San Antonio.
___The Bible words that call on Christians to stand on God's promises are translated variously as "to trust," "to be of good cheer," "to believe" and "to be bold," Almirudis said in several small-group sessions that explored the conference theme.
___In each case, the call to "be of good cheer" is a command, not a request or even an exhortation, he reported. "When the Lord exhorts his people to trust in him, he does not do it as a way of recommendation but as definite command," he said.
___And in every case, a miracle was involved, he added, noting the command accompanied Jesus' healing miracles, his walk on the sea, his comfort of afflicted disciples and the Apostle Paul's imprisonment. "For the solution of all the situations, there was no alternative," he said. "There was no Plan B if Plan A failed."
___Also, God got involved every time he told people to trust him, Almirudis acknowledged.
BREAKOUT SESSIONS such as this one were a favorite of those attending the recent conference .
"The imperative from God to trust, to be of good cheer, to be confident was not a mere pious wish for people to feel tranquil, but a firm exhortation, (an) objective based on God's faithfulness," he explained.
___"When we speak of standing on the promises, we imply the use of faith. Ö But biblical faith is not a natural talent; it is not something congenital that one can develop with a strong will. Biblical faith is a gift from God."
___Faith is the "unswerving trust in the (truthfulness) and goodness of God," he said.
___Consequently, trusting on God's promises is a spiritual matter, he said. "A person with a superficial relationship with the Lord cannot be identified for his/her trust on him," he explained. "The heroes of the faith--those who knew how to demonstrate a great trust on the Lord--were in the first place spiritual people, consecrated to God. Our trust in God is in proportion to our submission and consecration to him."
___The conference theme also implies that God does indeed make promises upon which Christians can depend, Almirudis insisted.
___"Biblical trusting is only and exclusively in what God says, promises and affirms," he said. "The implicit warranty in the promises of God is that they proceed from him.
___"'The promises' is a reference to the promises of God given through holy Scriptures. 'The promises' points to a God that has spoken and continues to speak through a sacred document called the Bible. In order to develop the ability to stand on the promises of God, we need to know those promises; that is, the Bible's content.
___"No one can love whatever he/she does not know. It is impossible to love a God that one does not know; it is impossible to love what he has promised if one ignores what he promised."
___Faith in God's promises is a person's best defense against the problems of life, the pastor said. "Only when one trusts on the promises of God can one live a peaceful life."
___That trust is more than head knowledge; it involves practice, Almirudis said.
___"The depression that many people suffer is a consequence of wanting to carry a burden 'with God's help,'" he illustrated. "People insist on managing by themselves the adverse situations of life with the assistance that God may give.
___"That sounds good, but it's not the Bible's teaching. The teaching of the Bible is that we should surrender to the Lord all anxiety, to be freed from them in a decision of faith in God."
___The keys to finding and expressing that kind of faith are obedience and prayer, he told the women.
___"In order to receive the benefits of God's promises, there has to be obedience and prayer," he claimed. "These are the two rails upon which the Christian life runs. It is not a matter of much prayer and a little obedience or much obedience and a little prayer. Such a thing produces derailment. Genuine obedience produces in us prayer, and prayer produces obedience. He who is obedient prays, and he who prays is obedient."
___Two mothers testified that God is faithful to his promises of his presence and comfort, even during life's most difficult situation.
___Lydia Almares described the agony she and her family felt when her 12-year-old daughter, Priscilla, and 13-year-old niece, Sarah Vela, were abducted and murdered Dec. 17, 1994.
___"I cried and cried and asked the Lord, 'What am I going to do without my baby?'" recalled Almares, a member of Theo Avenue Baptist Church in San Antonio. "I prayed and prayed and wanted those policemen to say it was a mistake, to say some other children had been found in that park. But I didn't want another mother to go through this."
___For awhile, she was obsessed with finding the killers and would get in her car and drive through neighborhoods, looking for any clue that would lead to their capture. They still have not been found.
___Finally, she received some sense of peace when she asked for God's presence in her shattered life.
___"I prayed and asked God to be with me, to help me," she said. "He showed me that some way, he was there when that was happening to the girls. God was there all the time. Ö He held me when I cried. Even though I never saw him, in my heart I know he was with me."
___She also has taken comfort in knowing God understands how she feels, she told the crowd. "He also went through the same pain I felt. When his son died on the cross, he knew exactly what I felt. Ö
___"This year, my daughter would have graduated (from school). When she was 12 years old, she graduated to God's heaven. I know they are with God, in the best place. I know nobody ever will hurt them again."
___Oralia Godsey told how her son, David, died in an automobile wreck a week after his 18th birthday.
___Even in the moments after she heard the tragic news, she realized "Why me?" was not the right question to ask, said Godsey, a member of Iglesia Bautista Date Street in Plainview and the wife of Glen Godsey, a retired Baptist pastor.
___"Why not us?" she asked of the sudden death of her son. "God doesn't promise us tomorrow."
___But God does promise a purpose in everything, she added, noting her son was a faithful Christian who loved God and loved poor people along the Rio Grande.
___"He wanted a church for the people there" in an area along the river where the boy and his family often ministered, she recalled. "He was that person who made it possible for a church to be built" by others inspired by his memory and his commitment to Christ and to people.
___Godsey also told how she more recently survived cancer. Through her family's trials, one thing has been certain, she said: "God has seen us through."

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