VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 6/2/16)—Denise Osejo and the Rev. Juan Aragón of Ravenswood, West Virginia, have been endorsed to serve as American Baptist International Ministries (IM) missionaries in Chiapas, Mexico. They will work with the Council of Rural Indigenous Evangelicals of Mexico (Consejo Indígena Campesino Evangélico de México, CICEM), an IM partner in Mexico, to empower leaders in their communities.
Through this new role, Denise and Juan will continue a ministry that they have already begun. In his current position as Hispanic Ministries Strategist for the West Virginia Baptist Convention (WVBC), Juan has worked extensively within the Mexican-American community, and this vocation has engendered a personal mission for both him and Denise.
Juan explains: “For the last eight years, my wife and I have been ministering to Hispanic immigrants in West Virginia. Most of them are from the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. We’ve listened to their stories of faith, hope and courage. But we have also learned about the struggles and challenges they face in their villages and communities. Through them we have learned to love the people of Mexico.”
Denise, who will be serving mainly in women’s ministries, has for a long time felt called to serve among women who live in male-dominated social contexts. “My sisters need to be empowered to believe they deserve more in life than just working in the kitchen or suffering silently from domestic violence,” she writes. “They need to realize how important they are to God and to the ministry of the church.”
Juan’s work will focus on leadership development in churches. He will seek to strengthen the witness of local churches by offering theological education, coaching and discipling to new and current leaders. Juan sees this role as one of coming alongside men and women as they advance their ministries, accompanying them as a mentor while they continue to do the good work that God has already begun in them.
After walking with the Aragóns through an extensive discernment process, IM believes that “God has called and equipped Juan and Denise in order to minister in Southern Mexico among the indigenous groups often neglected and forgotten by its society,” says IM Area Director Adalia Gutiérrez Lee, who will be overseeing and providing support for their ministry. “Denise and Juan go with our prayers and support to learn, to share and to experience, together with our Mexican brothers and sisters, the goodness and grace of our always loving Savior, Jesus Christ.”
The WVBC supports the Aragóns in their new ministry together. “We rejoice in this endorsement,” writes Dr. David Carrico, executive minister of the WVBC. “The Aragóns have been a blessing to our region, and now they can be a larger blessing to world mission.”
Originally from Los Angeles and Nicaragua, respectively, Denise and Juan both began their collegiate educations at Ave Maria College of the Americas in Nicaragua, where Juan earned a Bachelor of Philosophy in Computer Information Systems and Denise earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Juan went on to receive a Master of Divinity from Palmer Theological Seminary.
Once they have raised the funds to get their ministry off the ground, Denise and Juan will move to Chiapas, Mexico, with their two young children—Juancito, age 5, and Hefziba “Ziba,” age 2.
More information on Denise and Juan is available on their profile page on the IM website. To send words of encouragement or support, contact Denise and Juan at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Baptist International Ministries works cross-culturally to invite people to become disciples of Jesus Christ and to proclaim, through both word and deed, God’s reign of justice, peace and abundant life for all creation.
American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.