FRESNO – “I’m putting 10,000 Bibles in the storage container right now. Can you call me back around three o’clock?”
Some might characterize Oscar Sanchez as God’s juggler, but he sees himself as a servant, a “go-between individual” coordinating a massive mission effort. Oscar is California Southern Baptist Convention migrant ministries field specialist.
“I am a missionary,” Oscar said. “This is what I am, it describes what I do; and California’s migrant field workers are my mission field. Each summer we minister to thousands living in migrant centers throughout California, primarily in the Central Valley.”
From May through August, Oscar continually takes telephone calls, answers questions and checks on supplies. He enlists doctors and dentists for the Convention’s mobile medical and dental units, encourages migrant cluster coordinators, helps mobilize hundreds of volunteers, and does everything possible to facilitate "Feeding Those Who Feed Us" projects.
“The coordinators call me asking about the food that we are going to give away, the jeans and tennis shoes that we’re going to give away, and the backpacks of school supplies that we will give to the children. We have plenty of Bibles and tracts to give out.
“However, this year the country’s economical situation is challenging us, but I believe that God will give us the victory. We will feed from 200,000 to 300,000 people each summer. They will hear the Good News and the Holy Spirit will change lives. Churches will be strengthened this summer; we may even see some churches started!”
In spite of the project’s countless administrative details, Oscar finds time to meet and share Christ with those living in the migrant locations. He is willing to do whatever it takes to touch people’s lives.
“My greatest joy is seeing lives transformed by the power of the Gospel. There’s no comparison to that at the end of the day.
“In 1978, a year after Lydia and I were married, we spent a summer working with migrants on the eastern shore of Virginia. I did not realize then that 30 years later I was going to be working as the migrant ministries director here in California. I guess the Lord was preparing us.”
God uniquely prepared Oscar for service among the migrants. When he was five years old, his father died and his mother moved her family from Mexico to Union City where they lived with Oscar’s grandparents. Mrs. Sanchez was a U.S. citizen born in Nebraska to farm laborers.
“I watched my grandfather at work all of his life in the fields, and I worked in the fields for a short time,” Oscar recalled. “That experience gave me a great appreciation and sensitivity towards those who work in the fields.”
Upon graduation from California Baptist University and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Oscar pastored churches in California. He and Lydia served with the International Mission Board in Argentina from 1990 to 1995; he has been with CSBC since 1997.
Oscar works closely with Tom Stringfellow, director of missions for Sierra Butte Association and director of Feeding Those Who Feed Us, the non-profit corporation established to raise money for the migrant project. The funds raised augment those provided by the CSBC Cooperative Program and California Mission Offering and North American Mission Board Hunger Relief. The project costs between $200,000 and $300,000 annually.
Oscar claims Galatians 6:9 for himself and the Feeding Those Who Feed Us volunteers: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
Oscar’s message to California Southern Baptists:
“California is the breadbasket of the United States, and we have a mission field right here in our neighborhood. The federal government has listed the San Joaquin Valley as the third most poverty-stricken area in the nation behind the Mississippi Valley and Appalachia. This is our Samaria. Look into the opportunities for doing missions right here with the migrant ministry in California. Work with us this summer for one week; you will experience a great blessing.”
"I want to priase God for this summer's "Feeding Those Who Feed Us " migrant project. We have seen 1,1620 decisions for Christ. We have seen many volunteers lives impacted by having participated in the migrant summer projects. The majority of the migrant summer projects take place in the poorest region in the US---the San Joaquin Valley. I believe the Lord is please when we minister to the migrants---the "marginalized and forgotten" people groups."
Oscar’s prayer requests:
Please pray for the all the migrants that have made a profession of faith; that Spanish churches would faithfully do the necessary follow-up and that these believers would find a Bible-believing church to plug into.
Pray for physical, mental and spiritual strength for Oscar and Lydia. They need God’s special touch during the demanding summer months.
Pray for victory for the cluster groups and their coordinators that they will not be discouraged by the loss of revenue caused by the slowing economy and distracting political climate.
Pray that the hearts of men and women, boys and girls will be prepared to receive the Gospel presented at the migrant centers.
Pray that God will empower workers to follow up on those who make decisions for Christ through the migrant ministry.
Praise God for the 1,162 professions of faith during the 2013 Feeding Those Who Feed Us emphasis.
Praise God for the hundreds of volunteers including doctors and dentists who make each year’s migrant ministry a reality.
Praise God for Dr. Tom Stringfellow’s tireless fundraising activities in support of CSBC’s migrant ministry project, Feeding Those Who Feed Us.
Oscar’s contact information:
733 West Gettysburg Avenue
Fresno, CA 93705
E-mail Oscar Sanchez