by Makayla Sykes, writer for the North American Mission Board
Fernando Mangieri is a third-generation pastor’s kid who has three older brothers and an uncle who also serve as pastors. “I did not plan or want to be a pastor, but God called me,” said Mangieri. Since he was called to the ministry at the age of nine, he has had the vision to be a missionary pastor.
Born and raised in Argentina, Mangieri moved to Mexico in 2000 to attend seminary. “My original plan was to move back to Argentina and then leave from there to a different country as a missionary,” said Mangieri. “But while I was in Mexico, God spoke to my heart. Plus, I met my wife. So I stayed in Mexico working at the seminary, planting churches and helping the students as the seminary chaplain.”
Mangieri also worked with the Mexican Baptist Convention and the Mexican Missionary Board until his family received violent threats for spreading Christianity. Mangieri and his wife were forced into hiding for two weeks with their children—a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old.
“I assumed the Lord was asking me if I was ready to die for Him. I told Him if I have to die, then I will do it,” said Mangieri.
Soon after, God opened the door for Mangieri to be a missionary in the United States, serving as a Hispanic church planter. Mangieri said that through it all “the Lord just told me to stand still and know that He is God.”
Upon arriving in the United States, Mangieri became a catalytic church planter with the SBC of Virginia. The first church he planted was in December of 2009, with 19 people in attendance at the first service.
“My church planting strategy is prayer,” said Mangieri. “We want to capture God’s vision so that we can move in His direction. We just have to trust that we will be connected to the people who are ready to receive the Gospel. He has always been faithful to that.”
Six and a half years later, Mangieri has planted four Hispanic churches across Virginia. His first church, Iglesia Bautista Nueva Esperanza (New Hope Baptist Church), was in North Chesterfield. In 2011, he planted another Nueva Esperanza in Petersburg, VA. Both churches continue to thrive.
“I have always had a burden in my heart for all of the ethnic groups in Mexico. One day, an IMB missionary called me and asked about the large number of Mixtecs in Richmond,” said Mangieri. “I found out that I already had a man that was Mixtec in my church, and we realized God was already working.”
Shortly after, in 2013, Mangieri planted a church specifically to reach the Mixtec people in Richmond. They continue to meet in a small trailer and are able to worship in their heart language. Mangieri’s latest church plant is called Iglesia Bautista Conexión (Connection Church), in Chesterfield, which was planted in 2015 and already has around 80 people meeting each Sunday.
“Our passion is to plant churches and really to raise up pastors,” said Mangieri. Due to this, they also started a Bible institute in Richmond, using the curriculum through the Bible Training Center. The Bible institute focuses on raising up future pastors and equipping them to eventually shepherd their own churches.
“I like the materials we use because it allows us to train the pastors, make sure they are doctrinally sound, and insure that the churches are going to be doctrinally sound as well,” said Mangieri.
Their strategy is to prepare pastors for the churches planted through the Bible institute. About 50 percent of the students who attend the institute are people whom Mangieri was able to evangelize, baptize, and disciple himself.
“The hardest but most precious thing is to have people who have become a part of your church family leave and go plant another church,” said Mangieri. He continues to follow the Lord by planting churches and raising up men to reach the Hispanic people of Virginia.
Originally published at namb.net, May 5, 2016. Reprinted with permission.