A typical Sunday for Jose Nater looks anything but typical. As church planter and pastor of not one, not two, but three Spanish-language church plants on the eastern shore of Maryland, Nater and his family spend their Sundays on the road.
The mornings begin early in Cambridge, Md., as Nater, along with his wife, Myra, teaches Sunday School classes, prepares music for praise and worship and leads the morning’s service at First Hispanic Baptist Church of Cambridge.
As Sunday services close in Cambridge, the family packs up, grabs a quick lunch and makes the 20-mile drive to the nearby city of Easton, Md., where Nater delivers his second sermon of the day, this one at First Hispanic Baptist Church of Easton, also a Spanish-language church planted by Nater.
After another quick meal, they are on the road again, this time crossing into Delaware where Nater hosts Bible classes before beginning his third church service of the day for the Hispanic community in the city of Seaford. By the time the family makes it back home, Nater and his wife have just enough time to get to bed before Monday morning comes and takes them both back to their full-time jobs — his at a local property management company, hers as the director of an after-school program.
For many, the grind of a full-time job, the needs of a family and the demands of pastoring three church plants in two states might be too much, but for Nater, it’s a calling.
“I have a family, a job and three congregations to pastor — it’s a full plate,” Nater says. “But I know God is the one who has filled my plate with this work, who called me to these communities and these people. And He is the one who sustains me through it.”
Nater is one of six missionaries featured this year in the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) 2014 promotion of the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. The church plants he pastors are part of NAMB’s effort to help Southern Baptists start 15,000 new churches in 10 years. Half of NAMB’s financial support comes from the Annie offering.
This hectic life of a bivocational church planter is not what Nater or his family had in mind when they moved to the United States from Puerto Rico in 2002. At the time, he was working for a prominent hotel chain and, with a transfer to Maryland to open a new location, was quickly climbing the corporate ladder. But just months after moving his family and taking the new position, Nater was unexpectedly let go from the company.
“It was such a difficult time,” Nater recalls. “We didn’t see it coming and didn’t know what to do. We considered leaving the area, but something in my heart said, ‘This is where you’re supposed to be.'”
And so the family remained in Maryland despite their unexpected hardships. Soon after losing his job, the family of four lost their home as well, moving into a friend’s basement. Nater took several part-time jobs and worked around the clock to keep his family from completely going under financially.
“We were so unsure of what to do in that season. Looking back now, I see how God provided for us in little ways along the way to reassure us of our decision to stay in Maryland rather than to return home to Puerto Rico. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was all part of His plan for our ministry,” Nater says.
SOURCE: Sara Shelton