The Rev. Max Guzman might be new to Columbia County, but the Mexico native already is making his presence felt in the Augusta area.
The pastor moved from North Carolina to Grovetown late last year with his wife, Jacqueline, and three young children to teach the word of God and provide an outlet for worship to Spanish-speaking residents.
"There's a tremendous need here," said Guzman, who also is a member at West Acres Baptist Church in Evans. "There's a pretty good size Spanish-speaking population."
A group of eight area Southern Baptist churches, including West Acres, within the Augusta Association of Baptist Churches partnered with Guzman so he could start his ministry.
"We have ongoing contact with the churches and plan to partner with their congregations on a variety of ways," he said. "It's just a blessing when you see how the local churches are treating us, and (how) they have adopted us and the excitement that they see for us to be here."
Since his arrival, Guzman has become acquainted with the area. He also is venturing out and meeting those in the Spanish-speaking community.
"He spends a lot of time, of course, in Grovetown just going to the different stores and just meeting people," said West Acres Senior Pastor Larry Harmon.
To those who are interested, the Guzman family opens up their home to provide a place of religious service and study.
Guzman moved to the United States when he was 19. In 2005, he earned his Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies degree at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forrest, N.C.
Guzman's father, a Baptist minister and journalist in Mexico City, served as his inspiration.
"That was a tremendous influence in my life as far as working on the ministry," he said.
While living in North Carolina, Guzman also worked with churches to provide a ministry for those speaking Spanish. In Raleigh, he said there are about 20 Spanish-speaking churches.
The need also is evident to Harmon, who recently spoke with a group of Hispanic residents attending a Sunday service at the church. Introducing a Spanish-speaking pastor to the area will help to eliminate the language barrier, he said.
"They would only pick up bits and pieces of what was being said," he said. "We just realized that the gospel tells us to share it with all the world, and sometimes, the world comes to us."
With support from the Augusta Association of Baptist Churches, Guzman said he ultimately hopes to establish a church for all Spanish-speaking citizens who may feel overwhelmed attending church services spoken in English.
"Eventually, the dream is to set up a Christian church in the area with the Spanish speakers," he said.
"Then eventually, they can go back to their county and teach this and do much better."
For information, contact the pastor at email@example.com or by calling (706) 855-2010 or (919) 389-6333.
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