SAN JOSE – “We haven’t called you to preach in English. You are going to preach in Spanish.” Those words changed Josias “Joe” Robledo’s ministry focus.
Named one of five of the North American Mission Board’s top church planters in 2005, Joe serves with the California Southern Baptist Convention (CSBC) Church Starting Group as a church planting catalyst.
A third-generation Baptist, Joe’s rich cultural heritage began in Mexico with the evangelization of his great-grandfather by a Baptist missionary.
“My great-grandfather was a bricklayer. He actually helped to build the Baptist church and parsonage in Monte Morelos, Mexico. Later, he saw his son, Moises, become the pastor of that church. Moises Robledo, my grandfather, worked for the Home Mission Board during the Roaring Twenties.”
Raised in a Christian home in San Jose, Joe’s call to ministry was nurtured during his childhood by parents who were actively engaged in Baptist life and missions. Pastor Jesus Rios, the first pioneer Mexican pastor to start Spanish work in California, baptized Joe. At the age of 17, Joe realized that Jesus wanted to be more than his Savior, He wanted to be the Lord of his life.
“My journey took me to California Baptist College (CBC) (now California Baptist University), and God opened my eyes to ministry. Little did I know it would be a Spanish ministry. I was totally adapted to the Bay Area culture. You know, USA Boy, apple pie, and Taco Bell®.”
During his senior year at CBC, Joe had his first student pastorate at a church in El Cajon. It was there in 1974 that God set Joe’s ministry.
“I remember the El Cajon congregation telling me, ‘Oh no, son, we have not called you to preach in English. You are going to preach in Spanish!’ I did not even own a Spanish Bible. I had to go out and buy a bilingual Bible and a dictionary to try to understand what I was reading!”
God touched Joe’s heart and awakened the heart language of his heritage. God graciously awakened Joe’s command of the Spanish language, and gave him a passion for the Hispanic people. He gave Joe a heart for evangelism and the necessary people skills to allow him to live unafraid in a bilingual world.
“My passion for the Hispanic people continues to grow even now after 30 years of being able to mingle with the different Latino cultures. In my young life, Hispanics were from just one country — Mexico. What I found were Hispanics from countries such as El Salvador and Guatemala. It is a wonderful mix of people.”
Joe works where he grew up. His CSBC assignment is to start new churches for the Bay Area’s 1 million Hispanic people. He seeks out men touched by God to start new works.
“Many of our men are homegrown bivocational pastors. We discover them, provide training for them, and encourage them. Several have stayed in the Bay Area because of going to extension classes provided by the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (GGBTS). Some are now senior pastors in area churches.”
Joe’s greatest joy is seeing the birth of a brand new church. During the 30 years of his ministry, he has seen more than 60 new churches started.
Thirty-six years ago, Joe married Elizabeth, a San Jose girl. They have three daughters and two grandchildren, Jonathan and Isabella. Joe earned a master of divinity degree from GGBTS in 1978.
Joe’s message to California Southern Baptists:
“Continue giving to the Cooperative Program and the California Mission Offering. Continue giving so that we can plant new church starts and discover, support, and train new pastors and leaders.”
- Pray for churches to open their doors for language work.
- Pray for the 2 million unreached Hispanics in the Bay Area.
- Pray for more helpers to start new churches.
- Ordination of Pastor/Planter Homero Hernandez, Iglesia Bautista la Roca, Hayward.
- North Morro Bay Church public launch with Planter/Pastor Jeremy Ventresca.
- Fuente de Victoria, Castroville finding new opportunities to start new churches.
- Summer volunteers helping with VBS along the California Coast.
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Joe’s contact information:
5086 Gazania Drive
San Jose, CA 95111