Ask Osmel Jimenez if he likes living in America and he is quick to smile and say yes.
He is from Cuba, after all.
Jimenez spent 20 years in Christian ministry there before he and his wife, Hilda, and their three kids came to the United States, settling down to live in the Charlotte area. He loves his new home country — and, because of his background, he wants to explain to Americans why they also should love their country.
Jimenez was called to plant a new church in the Monroe area and soon started partnering with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Church Planting team. That team was able to provide him financial support and coaching because N.C. Baptists provide support through the Cooperative Program and the North Carolina Missions Offering.
Jimenez found a great partnership with Lakeview Baptist Church, whose spacious building stands tall in the rolling rural area northeast of Monroe. Lakeview has adopted Jimenez and his church as ministry partners, not just rented or loaned him a meeting place.
On a typical Sunday morning, Lakeview volunteers are working on the equipment setup for the Hispanic service, making sure the sound and other provisions are working correctly.
“I found a family in this church and in the Baptist state convention,” Jimenez says, “because they have made me part of their team and that has been really good for me.”
“People are disconnected from God but God wants all people to be connected to Him and the love of Jesus.” — Osmel Jimenez
One would assume a Spanish-speaking Hispanic from Cuba would surely plant a Spanish-speaking church for Hispanics, because there are many Hispanics in the surrounding area. However, he is reaching out not just to Hispanics, but to people from many lands who now live in the Charlotte-Monroe area.
Very soon after launching — and after services became possible amid the pandemic — attendance was more than 30, not bad for a new launch.
But Jimenez is dreaming way beyond Monroe.
He preaches every week via the internet to scores of other people gathered in Durham, Cuba and Brazil. And in his vision, that’s just the start.
“Pray for me, because I want to go to another nation and help young people and families come to Jesus,“ Jimenez says. “People are disconnected from God, but God wants all people to be connected to Him and the love of Jesus.”
Ask Jimenez how he meets new people to talk to and his answer is, well, electrifying.
He works as an electrician for a Charlotte company. His work takes him to many parts of the state week by week. As he meets people, he shares his faith and then stays in touch with the new believers. That’s how he sets up new groups meeting far from Monroe.
If you happen to drive the Concord Highway from Monroe and you pass Lakeview Baptist Church, you won’t see the connections that reach out to many people and lands.
But through Osmel Jimenez, those connections are definitely there and growing.