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Free and clear

Midway Baptist Church pays off debt, provides money to Tioga Church

Members of Midway Baptist Church burned copies of bank documents and the church celebrated the retiring of $3.5 million in debt.

“It feels absolutely amazing,” lead pastor John Theisen said. “We’ve been blessed.”

In 2007, the church borrowed money for the purchase of 10 acres of property and the construction of its main worship building, its preschool and other buildings. Since then, it has had to allocate about $250,000 a year for debt payments, Theisen said. Now clear of that debt, it will increase its support of missionary work and church sponsorships.

With the first step in that effort, Theisen announced the sponsorship of a new church in Tioga. Over Ochoa, the new church’s pastor, said it will be the first in the town’s history to offer a Spanish-language service. The plan is for the Vida Victoriosa church to open its doors on July 7. It will be meeting at the former site of the First Baptist Church of Tioga.

Ochoa lives with his wife and their 15-year-old daughter in Prosper, where he founded Vida Victoriosa and served as pastor for seven years. That congregation now has about 90 members.

There are enough Hispanic families near Tioga, thanks in part to all the work available on the area’s farms and ranches, to sustain a healthy Spanish-speaking congregation, Ochoa said.

His church’s growth in Prosper marked a shift in the local Hispanic population there, he said, away from alcohol and partying on the weekends to healthier, more family-orientated lifestyles.

Originally from Montería, Colombia, Ochoa studied business administration in the country’s capital of Bogota before becoming a pastor at a Christian church. Yearning to establish new churches and wanting to move with his family to the U.S., he began the process of applying for immigrant visas. In less than a year, he, his wife and their daughter had been approved as permanent U.S. residents.

The partnership with Ochoa and his family on the church for Spanish speakers in Tioga is part of Midway Baptist Church responding to the area’s growing Hispanic population.

“When it comes to people who follow God, we need to be thankful and meet their spiritual needs more than focus on the inconvenience of more growth coming to our area,” Theisen said.

At Sunday’s service, Theisen presented Ochoa with a $5,000 check. The commitment to Vida Victoriosa is ongoing; Midway Baptist Church will contribute monthly payments and serve as its safety net, along with other local Baptist groups. It is similar to a sponsorship arrangement Midway Baptist Church has kept for six years with a church offering Spanish-language services in Denton.

The Midway Baptist Church congregation has always been generous with its support of projects, Thiesen said.

And since the church opened its main worship building more than a decade ago, it has hosted many community events, including University Interscholastic League competitions, school band concerts and funerals.

“It has been worth every penny,” Thiesen said.

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