Lee Baggett and Charles H. Whiteside honored at 2024 Texas Baptists Legacy Awards

by Jessica King on June 24, 2024 in Stories of Impact

Lee Baggett, missionary and founder of Manos Hermanas, and Charles H. Whiteside, a committed educator and servant leader across numerous Texas Baptists ministries, were recipients of the 2024 Texas Baptists Legacy Award. The awards were presented during a worship service on June 2 at historic Independence Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas.

Dr. Julio Guarneri, executive director of Texas Baptists, preached from Hebrews 11 on the legacy of faith, taking the congregation on “a hall of faith tour.”

Guarneri began with Noah, who passed on to us a legacy of faith in God’s power. Hebrews 11:7 says, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.” Noah’s faith led him to act on God’s promise, Guarneri said, believing he would do what he said he would do, and his faith saved him. 

The next stop on the tour was Abel, who passed on a legacy of believing in God’s provision. Hebrews 11:4 tells us that Abel’s faith made him righteous by his offering to God. Guarneri said Abel’s faith was demonstrated by offering what God required despite not knowing the Perfect Lamb was coming to be a sacrifice for him. 

Abraham, who left us a legacy of faith in pilgrimage, is the last hall of faith member visited. Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”  Even in the Promised Land, Guarneri said, Abraham was a sojourner because he was looking forward to a city built on God as the foundation. He said if we trust Jesus, our destination is beyond. 

“Faith connects us to the invincible God and his promises,” he said. “Faith fills the gap between the present and the future; it connects us with those who have come before us and trust[ed] in God’s Word.”

Meeting great needs by the Great Commission  

Baggett was introduced by Don Sewell, president of Hands In Service Ministry and former Texas Baptists ministry staffer. Sewell told the story of Baggett’s ministry by first recalling when the two met over a case of Dr. Pepper 45 years prior. 

Baggett came to know Christ at his home church of First Baptist Vernon, where he learned to meet the needs of Hispanic kids in his community. Sewell said this sparked a passion for making an impact. While discerning a call to ministry during his sophomore year at Wayland Baptist University, Baggett took a gap year to Guadalajara, Mexico, to improve his Spanish. With an increased love for Hispanic communities, Baggett decided to go to the El Paso area the summer after his return to Wayland for his junior year, where he was absolutely taken, according to Sewell, by the idea that he could make an impact on people for Christ by means of physical health.

Baggett and his wife, Ruthie, were appointed by the Baptist Foreign Mission Board to serve in Guadalajara. There, they developed a mobile medical clinic called Manos Hermanas, or Sister Hands, with the help of Dr. Omar Nicholàs, the former hospital president there. 

As Manos Hermanas developed its network across Mexico, Sewell said there became a need for a supporting ministry in the U.S. and in the early 2000s, Hands In Service Ministry was born. “So there’s this melding of the Great Commandment with the Great Commission,” Sewell said. 

“And in the process of bringing these two together, people began to say, ‘Why do they care about us so much?’ and in that process, those conversations that start with an inquiry eventually develop[ed] into something of a joy and spiritual value.” 

Committed to Christ and education

Whiteside was introduced by his daughter and provost of Baylor University, Nancy Brickhouse. She began by telling the congregation that her father’s legacy was marked by his commitment to his faith, his family and education. 

Whiteside was born and raised in Coppell, Texas, to a farming family and believed in teaching others about agriculture and how to feed the world, according to Brickhouse. Whiteside studied at a local junior college before attending Texas A&M University, where he joined the Corps of Cadets. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree, he went on to serve in the U.S. Army. 

Upon his return, he did not go back to College Station, where he started his family, but instead moved to Kilgore, Texas, where he got a job teaching Chemistry at Kilgore College. 

“I love these full circle stories where junior college is key to my father's success, and we're going to go back and teach at a junior college and provide the same kind of education that makes a difference in his life to the people there in Kilgore,” said Brickhouse. 

In addition to teaching, Whiteside pioneered an agricultural testing lab to educate people on the best practices available to feed the world. Brickhouse said her father’s hope was that the lab’s business would be in feedstock, but God had a different plan. There became a great need for environmental testing, and that’s when Ana-Lab took off as a growing enterprise, Brickhouse said. 

“He was very proud of the fact that we were in the middle of the East Texas oil field, where the economy was a boom and bust economy based on the energy crisis, and his business was one that was actually resilient to that,” Brickhouse said.

According to Brickhouse, her father’s business served as a community service, but he also invested much into the town. Whiteside was a member of the school board in Kilgore for many years and then went on to become the president of the Texas Association of School Boards. “He believed in the education of young people,” she said. 

Whiteside’s commitment to education was reflected in his dedication to the Texas Baptists Student Ministry, specifically Kilgore College BSM, donating to and naming it after his son who was profoundly impacted and supported by the ministry throughout his college career. 

His involvement with Texas Baptists only grew. Whiteside served on the BGCT Executive Board and the advisory committee of the Texas Baptist Mission Foundation. He has been a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award for the Christian Life Commission, the Adventure Award in Leadership and Missions for his work on world hunger relief and he and his wife have been recognized for their generous support and fundraising for the Texas Baptists Hunger Offering. 

Additionally, he served on numerous mission trips with Amigos International. Brickhouse recalled her early memories of Whiteside building mobile dental and medical clinics in their backyard that would be sent to Belize. 

“No one could out work my dad. He would work all day long and then come home and build things to be driven to areas where there was need,” Brickhouse said. 

Hall of faith legacies 

Baggett and Whiteside were chosen by a selection committee for their lifelong Christian service. Pavers commemorating Baggett and Whiteside were laid in the courtyard of Independence Baptist Church.

The historic church, organized in 1839, is the oldest continuously active Baptist church in Texas. The church annually hosts the Legacy Awards and is home to the Texas Baptists Historical Museum.

Jerry Carlisle, president of the Texas Baptist Mission Foundation, invited the congregation to give to Legacy Day and participate in the Legacy Society. Dylan Price, pastor of Independence Baptist and curator of the museum, welcomed Baggett, Whiteside and the other visitors to the church’s Sunday service.

To make a gift in support of Legacy Day, click here. To nominate recipients for the 2025 Texas Baptists Legacy Award, email Becky Brown at becky.brown[at]txb.org.

Texas Baptists is a movement of God’s people to share Christ and show love by strengthening churches and ministers, engaging culture and connecting the nations to Jesus.

The ministry of the convention is made possible by giving through the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, Mary Hill Davis Offering® for Texas Missions, Texas Baptists Worldwide and Texas Baptist Missions Foundation. Thank you for your faithful and generous support.

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