Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister, and today we are pleased to introduce Raquel Contreras.
Raquel, tell us how you are currently serving in ministry?
I am the general director (publisher) for the Baptist Spanish Publishing House/Editorial Mundo Hispano in El Paso, Texas. This organization was the first Spanish evangelical publishing house and has now been in existence for 110 years. We distribute our resources wherever Spanish is spoken.
What are some of the other ministry roles you have had in the past?
I was born in Chile. My mother, a US citizen, went to Chile as a single missionary and married my father who was Chilean. Until about five years ago, my entire ministry was carried out in Chile. After my husband passed away, I became the pastor of a large church in the southern region of my country, and during that period I was elected as president of the Chilean Baptist Union. In my country the president’s role is similar to that of the general secretary in USA organizations. I was also elected as vice president of the Baptist World Alliance and later named as president of the Baptist Union of Latin America. In 2010, I was elected president of the Women’s Department of the Baptist World Alliance.
What have been some of the challenges you have faced in your ministry journey?
I have faced many challenges, both from outside sources and from within myself. There were times that it was very hard for me to believe that I could do the things that I had been called to do. My worst enemy at times have been my own insecurities. But those were the moments that Christ became more real to me. I have learned in my own struggles that “His power is made perfect in my weakness.” Because of the very demanding positions I have had, I always struggle with setting aside time for myself, and especially finding time to be with the Lord. Without realizing, I have used much of my time in doing rather than being.
In many of the positions of leadership that I have held, I have been the first woman in those roles. In many ways, I have had to make the way for other women, who did not have any other models to follow. Another big challenge has to do with the many different types of ministry that I have had. I don’t understand why the Lord does this with me, but just when I’m feeling comfortable, He sends me to another servant position, and most of the time it’s much different than the last one.
Who has inspired you, supported you, and encouraged you along the way as you have lived out your calling?
Because I feel so insecure in my own abilities, I have learned to trust in the Lord, depending on His Word, which constantly inspires me. Sometimes a simple Bible story gives me the courage I need to face a certain situation.
My mother passed away as I was beginning to develop as a leader, but her example as a woman who accepted the big changes in her life with grace and complete trust in the Lord, always gives me the strength I need. I saw her praying every day of her life for me and many others. I like to think that her prayers are still being answered in my daily life.
My daughter has been a great encourager for me and provides for me an example of trusting the Lord. I also learned early in my life from my mother-in-law, a pastor’s wife, to respond to the calls I received.I have some “girlfriends” to whom I turn in times of despair, and they always have words of encouragement, without being judgmental. Within the BWA circles, I have been blessed with the friendship of several male leaders, who have been models for me as servant leaders.
God has been good to me by placing the right people around me, at the right moment, and during different moments of my life.