For Jorge Vazquez, the call to full-time pastoring came during his time at seminary. Over 17 years later, his passion for ministry is still going strong. He has been the leading pastor of Agape Baptist Church alongside his wife, Dahlia, for the past six years. The church, which is located in San Antonio, is a predominantly Hispanic church dedicated to cross-cultural outreach and evangelism.
“We have a very diverse population in our Northwest San Antonio community where the church is located,” Vazquez explained. “We already have many different Latino cultures in our church, like Bolivian, Peruvian and Caribbean, but we want to start reaching other ethnicities as well.”
With services in both English and Spanish, Vazquez also strives to ensure that, despite the separate services, the church is functioning as one body.
With over 17 years of ministry behind them, the Vazquezs recently began looking toward the future. Though they plan to continue ministering for many more years, they knew that they needed to save for retirement. They also knew they probably should have started saving earlier, but they were not completely sure how to get started.
A pastor in the Vazquez’s community recommended that they look at the Texas Baptists website for possible resources. While on the site, he found the Ministers Financial Health (MFH) team. Led by Director Tammy Tervooren, the Financial Health team provides support for pastors through grant funds, low-interest loans and financial literacy resources. One of those grants is the Ministers Financial Health Grant, a grant designed to help pastors struggling with debt, bills or retirement savings.
The Ministers Financial Health Grant allows eligible Texas Baptists pastors and church ministers to apply for a matching grant. Texas Baptists match, dollar for dollar, up to $2,500 that is raised by the church or the pastor. For Vazquez, the match was provided by the Pastor Strong Initiative of Greater San Antonio, which aims to support pastors to greater health in every aspect of their lives. Along with the grant, Vazquez was also given access to online financial literacy courses and personal financial counseling.
“It really taught me a lot about finances, both personally and in the church,” he said. “The videos that we watched during the trainings and then the meetings we had with our financial advisor were so helpful.”
Tervooren explained that retirement savings are an area of struggle for many pastors. In a survey Texas Baptists conducted in 2018, 26% of pastors said they had no retirement savings. Sixty-four percent said that they were not offered retirement benefits. Tammy Tervooren, director of MFH, said that this is a huge stressor for many pastors.
“We wanted the grant to be utilized for retirement because, after the survey, we realized retirement savings was one of the biggest problems,” she said. “Retirement savings is an important piece of financial health because as much as we want to work for as long as possible, eventually we are no longer able to, and it’s important to be prepared and cared for then.”
For the Vazquez family, the grant was proof that they were following the path God intended for them.
“At the end of the day, God is going to provide wherever He takes us, and that’s one of the things that grounds us and keeps us going and doing the things that we do,” Vazquez shared.
“I love that Texas Baptists has taken an initiative to pursue this and share resources with their pastors.”
To learn more about Ministers Financial Health, go to txb.org/mfh.