POMONA, California – Grandfather of seven, Rodolfo Martinez likes to fish, swim, walk, and start churches. Throughout his ministry, he has always considered himself a missionary.
“The Lord has given me an apostolic gift to go and start new churches,” said Rodolfo. “Since I was a pastor in my early twenties, I have always started new congregations. At my first church, we had five missions. Every place I was a pastor I started at least one new congregation.”
Raised in a Christian home in Mexico, Rodolfo surrendered his life to the Lord at a youth retreat. After receiving a bachelor of arts degree in theology from the Mexican Baptist Theological Seminary, he earned a bachelor of science in psychology from California Baptist University, Riverside, and a master of art’s degree in religious education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.
Over the next 14 years, Rodolfo served as pastor of three California churches.
“My years as a pastor in California,” he said, “prepared me to continue doing mission work in this beautiful state. In 1994, my wife, Noemi, and I were commissioned by the Home Mission Board (i.e., North American Mission Board) and the California Southern Baptist Convention to do mission work in the greater Los Angeles area.”
As an Hispanic language church planting catalyst with the Church Starting Group of the California Southern Baptist Convention, Rodolfo currently serves the Los Angeles Southern Baptist Association, Long Beach Harbor Baptist Association and the High Desert Baptist Association. His mission: find men and women who have the passion to plant churches.
“Nowhere in the United States is the mix of people more diverse or the range of cross-cultural issues more complicated than in the Los Angeles basin,” confided Rodolfo. “This Greater Los Angeles area has been called the Tower of Babel. One department of Tandy Incorporated, in Santa Fe Springs, employs workers from 11 different nations in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
“Los Angeles today,” Rodolfo continued, “is the heart of a sprawling metropolitan region that includes more than 19 million people living in seven counties. Of the 10 million people living in Los Angeles County, 50 percent are Latino.”
When asked what has contributed to the effectiveness of his ministry, Rodolfo listed three things:
- building relationships,
- fostering prayer partners, and
- encouraging teamwork.
His daily responsibilities include assisting English and language churches to start new Hispanic congregations, promoting mission support through the Cooperative Program, and helping established Hispanic churches to reproduce themselves in new church starts.
“My greatest joys are seeing what God is doing in the lives of new congregations and seeing lives completely changed by the power of God,” Rodolfo said. “On the other hand, my greatest challenge is finding God’s man to plant a church in a specific area.”
Rodolfo’s message to California Southern Baptists:
“The people with whom I work in this region are Hispanics or Latinos,” explains Rodolfo. “Hispanics are all of the people in the United States who have come from Spanish speaking countries. Even though they speak the same language, they do not have the same background or history. They are from European, Asian, and Indian descent. Not all Hispanics are Mexican or eat enchiladas. Furthermore, not all Hispanics speak Spanish. Thousands of them only speak English, and we have to reach them with the Gospel.”
Rodolfo’s prayer requests:
- Pray for two church planters ready to launch congregations.
- Pray total recovery from surgery on my spinal cord.
- Pray for EBI (Equipping Bible Institute and the new semester.
- Pray for the Spanish fellowship of church planters in LA.
- Pray for the Basic Training Journal training for church planters.
- Pray that people who are without Christ will have soft hearts to receive the Gospel.
Rodolfo’s contact information:
190 W. Grove Street #1
Pomona, CA 91767