“1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.” Psalm 127

During the week of July 17 – 21, a team of churches and ministries served in the heat in the Panhandle of Texas working on a very promising ministry at Immanuel Lutheran – Hereford: Hope Lutheran Church and School – Lubbock, its pastor and staff, Men’s Ministry, youth, and Evangelists; Prince of Peace – Amarillo, its staff and Evangelists; and, Pastor Lincon Guerra, Area A Mission and Ministry Facilitator and Hispanic Ministry Lead for the Texas District, and his wife, Noemi Guerra, lead of the Evangelist Ministry. We gathered under the words of Solomon in Psalm 127, acknowledging that Christ must be the foundation of all of our work to be done during the week and that the children and their families we were reaching in this mostly Hispanic neighborhood in Hereford are the heritage we seek to pass the Word in terms of a new generation. This team held several workdays for repairs and had a “splash” event to make “noise” in the neighborhood through a VBS to create awareness. First though, we’d like to cover how we got here.

Like many West Texas towns, Hereford was founded in the late-1800s under a different name given by the railroads that came through the area for commercial reasons as well as transporting people. In the early 1900’s the name become Hereford to reflect the cattle industry and the city by the same name in England. During its development, the Texas District formed a mission congregation in the city as it was throughout West Texas in the early 1920s as the area settled and developed. The county Hereford is in, Deaf Smith County, was formed as one of the last 10 incorporated counties, all in the Panhandle. This mission congregation was named Immanuel Lutheran, and like many, more than likely used a home or a borrowed building as its initial point of worship until it could either buy or build a building for worship and provide ministry to the growing area.

In 1949, Immanuel Lutheran built a more permanent structure. Today, the ministry serves three members (as was shared while we were there). The good news is these members, who deeply love their church and the ministry it has provided, sought to reach out to the changing demographics of the neighborhood the church serves. Through Beth Lauterbach, a Canyon resident and trained Evangelist, an idea started growing to become a Hispanic mission ministry. Mrs. Lauterbach serves to play piano at Immanuel along with her pastor, Pastor Joe Andrajack (Prince of Peace Amarillo), who serves as the vacancy pastor at Hereford. The idea was shared with Area A’s MMF, Pastor Lincon Guerra and the seeds took root.

Then, early in 2023, Pastor Eric Hiner sought a place to take the youth for an annual summer mission trip from Hope Lutheran Church and School in Lubbock, and Lincon shared the hope of Hereford’s vision to become a mission outreach. Through Pastor Guerra’s earlier work with Beth, Pastor Andrajack, and Immanuel, the conversation began. By July 2023, plans were in place for the Hope Youth to lead a VBS for neighborhood children, Hope Lutheran’s Men’s Ministry (which has an Evangelist ministry function at Hope) to conduct two workdays during that same time, and for Pastor Lincon Guerra and the network of Hispanic pastors he works with to canvas the area with flyers for the VBS and to share the vision of the new ministry.

Many people from many places throughout the Panhandle and South Plains gave time and talent to this event. Meals were furnished by volunteers donating time and resources. Work was donated as were the materials for the repairs. Skills for repairs and teaching and such were given by young and old alike. Music was part of each day as well.

God has richly blessed the beginnings of what we hope will become one of the first Hispanic ministries in the Panhandle, West Texas, and Area A. With Christ as our foundation, we pray the Spirit works through all of us to allow us to serve with the same intensity that Immanuel led with when it was established in the early 20th century. We lift a prayer of thanksgiving for all the ministries coming together to bless and share in the effort to fulfill the vision of the remaining families at Immanuel to continue to fulfill the Great Commission to a new community and the next generation.

You can track the work of the VBS, the workdays and the youth on the Hope Lutheran Facebook page (HopeLubbock).

By David Baldner
Texas District BOD Member and trained evangelist