NEW ORLEANS — The “Abre Mis Ojos” conference, Spanish for “open my eyes,” yielded salvations as more than 800 guests from the Hispanic community gathered at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for the second annual event earlier this month.
The conference was developed as an intentional way for the seminary to engage the Hispanic community.
“I love hearing you sing, and while I may not understand your words, I hear your heart,” said Jamie Dew, president, as he welcomed attendees on Friday evening. “I’m reminded that our God is the same God, our savior is the same savior, and our mission is the same mission.”
The seminary partnered with the New Orleans Baptist Association and the North American Mission Board as hosts of the conference to strengthen and encourage Hispanic pastors and their churches. Bill Warren, professor of New Testament and Greek, and Julio Arriola, director of Send Network for the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention, were the plenary speakers.
The conference theme was “Christianity and Gender Identity,” which included discussions such as “Following Christ in a Sexualized (or hypersexualized) Culture” and “The Authority of the Bible for Culture.”
Warren said the Bible is our “sure guide” for the cultural issues of today.
"We are called to be holy, which means living morally upright lives,” said Warren. “We need to remember that while Christianity is about more than morality, it’s never about less.”
One cultural issue the Bible speaks to is the relationship between men and women, Warren explained.
“If we can overcome the most evident difference in the human species, male and female, and can learn to live in peace, love, and harmony as men and women, there is hope for this world,” Warren said.
Arriola ended the last plenary session with a call to faith which saw at least half of dozen attendees make professions of faith.
“I was able to share the gospel at the end,” Arriola said. “Several people came to Christ, and there was a great response when the altar call was offered, packing the altar with people needing prayer and reconsecrating to the Lord.”
When asked about the importance of the conference for the Hispanic community, which saw attendees from four different states and representing eight different countries, Arriola said it is “one of a kind.”
“Mobilizing that number of churches and their leaders/members was evident during the conference,” said Arriola. “The attendance itself shows you how important it is for them.”
Arriola explained the importance of the Abre Mis Ojos conference for Southern Baptists, as well.
“I believe NOBTS has been developing a great reputation among Latinos in Louisiana and beyond...NOBTS has reinforced what we know, how theological teaching within the context of the current cultural battles greatly interests the local church,” Arriola continued.
Fabio Castellanos, seminary director of Spanish Online Education and conference host, hopes the reputation of the conference increases and becomes a staple event for Hispanic communities.
“My prayer and desire are that Abre Mis Ojos matures and grows to be an annual meeting not to be missed for the Hispanic community in the southern United States, where both children and adults find an intense and refreshing strengthening of their faith.”