July 28, 1999

Concern for housekeeper sweeps
Midland woman into missions

___By Mark Wingfield
___Managing Editor
___MIDLAND--Deborah Fikes considers herself the least likely person to be chairman of the Mexico missions committee at First Baptist Church of Midland.
___A self-described "little housewife from Midland," she never would have predicted she would end up guiding and promoting the West Texas church's extensive ministry along the border.
DEBORAH FIKES visits with a Mexican pastor at a site where First Baptist Church of Midland is helping build a new church.
___"I'm Mexico missions chairman by default," she explained. "God seems to be raising up unlikely people."
___When first approached about taking on the lay leadership role for the ministry that handles hundreds of thousands of mission dollars every year, she replied, "But I do not balance a checkbook; I never have in my life."
___Others assured her they would handle the finances if she would give the committee leadership. That she has done with great enthusiasm.
___"She's been a tremendous example and inspiration to a lot of laypeople with her enthusiasm and the way she goes about her ministry," said Dale Pond, minister of missions at First Baptist. There are people involved in Mexico missions, who would not have been otherwise, because of her enthusiasm and her getting the word out. She's a great advocate for missions in our church."
___But just three years ago, Fikes didn't have the burden for reaching Mexicans with the gospel that she has today. In fact, she admits, she was outright prejudiced in the past.
___As a schoolteacher before her own children were born, she resented the Hispanics who required extra time in her classroom because of their language barrier, she recalled.
___Today, however, the 41-year-old mother of two is a strident advocate for cross-cultural missions. She and her family have personally participated in numerous mission projects in Mexico; she has become an advocate for a Spanish-language congregation in Midland; and she is the foremost promoter of First Baptist's Mexico missions endeavors.
___Her passion for Mexico missions was sparked three years ago by Elvia, a Latino woman who did housekeeping for her. Elvia's father was dying of cancer. Though he lived in Mexico, he had collapsed while visiting in Midland and been taken to a local hospital.
___"I was burdened for his soul," Fikes explained. "My husband encouraged me to call a Hispanic pastor to minister to him."
___She did, and then accompanied the pastor to the man's hospital room where together they told him about God's love.
___"I can't get you off my mind," she told the father.
___As the Spanish-speaking pastor shared the plan of salvation, the man began to sob. "I have been wanting to make my peace with God," he said.
___He gave his life to Christ that day, starting a chain of conversions that now has extended to 20 or more family members in West Texas and Mexico.
___That fulfills a promise Fikes and the pastor made to Elvia's father, who died soon after his conversion. "Please tell all my family about this good news," he implored them.
___"It has just been the power of God," Fikes explained. "It took just a little bit of obedience and then some prayer."
___As a result of her experience with Elvia's family, Fikes began going to the Hispanic pastor's church to help with various projects. Then she got involved on the Mexico missions committee at First Baptist.
___Now she wants all Texas Baptists to see the need for ministry along the border.
___"The timing is right with Texas Baptists, and we can make such a difference," she said.
___For example, for about $4,000 a year, a Texas church can support a Mexican pastor in full-time ministry.
___"If every church in Texas--if even 10 percent of the big churches--would adopt a pastor in Mexico for $4,000 a year, we could change the face of Mexico," she said.

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