After my first trip to the Yucatan, reports reached Dallas and the offices of our state convention of the amazing success of the work among the Mayan’s of South Mexico. I was asked to speak before the Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. This group consisted of many of the most prominent pastors and leaders in the state. People like Ralph Smith, Morris Chapman, Winifred Moore, Bill Pinson, Carlos McCloud, and others were in the room. A little over two hundred people would hear me bring a word of encouragement to be engaged in Partnership Missions around the world. I received a strong round of applause for my remarks. That day I stepped out of obscurity and into a circle of leadership that I never dreamed I could be a part of.
Because of that brief speech, I was invited to appear on a nationally televised program called “Life Today”. It was on the ACTS network which Baptists were trying to launch. I was interviewed about Partnership Missions by Dr. Jimmy Allen who was formerly pastor of First Baptist Church in San Antonio. Somewhere I have a tape of that interview which I never watch, but which my children have loved to watch in days gone by. After the interview I was chosen to speak before thousands of people at the state convention in Dallas, Texas. In the crowd that day was Dr. Jimmy Franklin who twice pastored the First Baptist Church of Kingsville. He had met me while he was Vice President of Howard Payne. I was commuting to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at the time and he heard me on a CB radio. My handle was Demon Chaser. He ask me several questions and invited me to his office. When he saw me on the platform in Dallas, he had in his possession a letter from Kingsville inviting him to come for the third time to be their pastor. Without asking me, he sat down after the convention and wrote to them telling them that he had just heard their next pastor speak at the state convention. He knew that my obvious love of missions and capacity to speak Spanish would be a good fit. Kingsville was almost seventy per cent Hispanic by that time and anyone who went there would necessarily have to have a love for a missions setting.
Simultaneously, two other strong churches were talking with me about being their pastor. First Baptist Church in Haskell actually invited me to be their pastor. Coggin Avenue Baptist Church in Brownwood was very interested as well. In contrast First Baptist Kingsville was interested, but the church was at its lowest point in decades. Neither the salary nor the potential for growth compared with the opportunity in Haskell or Brownwood. God made it clear in time that our family was to move to Kingsville. The circumstances of that move were all about the missionary calling and my understanding that God had gifted me for seeing churches turn around and overcome obstacles. Turning away from being well known and receiving a stronger salary, we would move in time to a place below the bible belt and into an area of the state that most ministers would not consider moving to. The details of that move constitute another story.