An Interview with Ubaldo Rodriguez and Kirk Hanger
on the Occasion of Ubaldo’s Ordination – September 9, 2015
by Noel Santiago
On August 2, 2015, I had the privilege and honor of officiating at the ordination service of Campo Ubaldo Rodriguez at Iglesia Nueva Esperanza that meets at Wilkens Avenue Mennonite Church located in Baltimore, Maryland. Ubaldo Rodriguez, originally from Colombia, educated at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, who is now serving with SEND International in Manila, the Philippines returned home for his ordination as he continues to build bridges between cultures and continents.
Iglesia Nueva Esperanza is a church plant initiative of Pastor Kirk Hanger. Pastor Kirk is the pastor of New Hope Fellowship in Alexandria, VA a partner congregation with Franconia Mennonite Church. Pastor Kirk has been a mentor to Ubaldo over the years, as Ubaldo began pastoring at Iglesia Nueva Esperanza in 2011 and did so there for 2 years before moving to the Philippines, the home country of his wife, Joy, as a missionary with SEND International.
Following Ubaldo’s ordination, I had the opportunity to ask both Ubaldo as well as Kirk Hanger, mentor to Ubaldo, a few questions about embracing God’s call and life in the Philippines.
What has this ordination meant for you?
Ubaldo: The recognition of my calling and ministry by the Franconia Conference gives me encouragement and I feel the support of the Mennonite community even though I am in the Philippines.
Ubaldo, what is it you and Joy do in the Philippines?
Ubaldo: We promote missions awareness, training Filipino missionaries to send others into the world to reach those who have never heard of Jesus and the Good News. We help churches to fulfill the Great Commission by doing missions training for them. We intentionally disciple people for them to disciple others (2 Timothy 2:2).
Who is SEND?
Ubaldo: SEND is an international mission organization based in Michigan that sends missionaries to do church planting among the least reached peoples in about 20 countries. Currently, SEND has about 550 missionaries in the world.
As their website states, “About 1/3 of the world’s population lives outside the reach of the local church—they have no opportunity to hear the gospel. SEND International, an interdenominational mission, mobilizes missionaries to engage them with the gospel and establish reproducing churches.”
What brings you the greatest joy?Ubaldo: It brings me great joy to see people come to Christ and see their transformation as disciples for the Kingdom of God.
Kirk, what has been your relationship with Ubaldo over the years?
Kirk: I first met Ubaldo at a Church Planter’s Retreat at Highland Retreat in Virginia some years ago as he was finishing his studies at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. We later met at the Atlantic Northeast Conferences (ANEC) Regional Church planters gathering. Soon after that, Ubaldo called me to see if I might have a place where he could serve. At that point, I was looking for someone to lead Nueva Esperanza in Baltimore meeting at Wilkens Avenue Mennonite Church. Ubaldo came and pastored the church for about two years. I’ve been a mentor and pastor to Ubaldo since then. I had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines two years ago to preach at Ubaldo and Joy’s wedding.
What have you appreciated about Ubaldo?
Kirk: Ubaldo is a man of deep faith, humility and integrity. Ubaldo is a prayer warrior and spends much time in intercession. I appreciate his intercession for me, especially when I travel. His is also a gifted pastor and teacher and now along with Joy is making the church more aware of the importance of reaching the least reached in the world and mobilizing people for missions.
What has the partnership between Nueva Esperanza and Wilkens Avenue Mennonite Church been like?
Kirk: Wilkens Avenue Mennonite Church is part of Lancaster Mennonite Conference. While Nueva Esperanza has grown out of New Hope Fellowship in Alexandria and through me connects with Franconia Conference, Wilkens Avenue shares the vision of a Spanish speaking church in the community. Wilkens Avenue provides a free space for the church to meet and occasional financial support for Nueva Esperanza. A couple of times a year Wilkens Avenue and Nueva Esperanza have a joint, bilingual outdoor evangelistic service. When Ubaldo lived in Baltimore, he related closely to the Wilkens Avenue congregation.
Ubaldo has bridged cultures and conferences, he has also play a role in RIMI (Red de Iglesias Misioneras Internacional/International Network of Missionary Churches), what will his ongoing relationship be with RIMI and you?
Kirk: RIMI is a network of churches in eight countries that work together in church multiplication, leadership development and missionary mobilization. Ubaldo was instrumental in helping RIMI expand in South America. He and I visited his home church in Bogota, Columbia where I met Ubaldo’s pastor, Islandes and the co-pastor Eduardo. That visit began their relationship with RIMI. Recently, Pastor Eduardo was sent out to start a daughter church in Bogota and last year they hosted Generacion Sana / Healthy Generation, RIMI’s annual international youth event.
Ubaldo also helped RIMI expand into Quito, Ecuador. Pastor Dairo Rubio had been pastor of Ubaldo’s church before Pastor Islandes many years ago. Pastor Dairo went to Quito to work with Trans-World Radio and while there started two churches. Dairo stays in close contact with the church in Colombia. Through Ubaldo, we met Dairo and he is now part of RIMI. Dairo is an excellent teacher and his experience in radio has helped RIMI’s radio ministry in Mexico expand.
RIMI has an international network of intercessors and Ubaldo is one of the intercessors of the network. RIMI has a coordinator in Mexico who sends out prayer requests to intercessors in several countries who together pray for needs from around the globe.
Ubaldo, Joy and I are developing a plan for young adults from Latin American to go to the Philippines to learn English and be equipped in the region for missions in Southeast Asia and beyond. We have people in Latin America interested in going and are praying for funding for this project. The goal is that some would commit to long term missions among the least reached.
It seems that God’s purposes for Ubaldo and I meeting were much larger than Baltimore as Ubaldo has helped make important connections with Colombia, Ecuador and now South East Asia that we pray will result in the multiplication and training of many followers of Jesus.
Franconia Mennonite Conference is delighted to have Ubaldo as one of our credentialed leaders as he continues to connect the body of Christ across cutlutres and continents.
For more information or to send words of encouragement you can reach Ubaldo at: firstname.lastname@example.org. To support Ubaldo and Joy’s ministry you can donate here: https://apps.send.org/give/missionaries/rodriguez-u-j, Send checks payable to SEND International at this mailing address: 36216 Freedom Road, Farmington, MI USA 48332, or setup direct deposit by calling 800-SEND808 or 1-248-4774210.