Friday, January 4, 2013



Dear Friends in Christ:

My heart has broken as I see the suffering of the members of Primera Iglesia Bautista De Frisco.  I have been moved to share some of their words and thoughts with you.   The following statements are from three Hispanic Christians who shared their testimony.  One is a grandfather who has been part of PIB for 25 years.   He worked with the men of FBC as they labored together to build the sanctuary and remodel and landscape the Church.  The second is a young mother who found a church home at PIB where she could raise her children in the love of Christ.  The last is a child who has never known any other church.

Sometimes I am so angry I cannot pray.  I know Christ says I must forgive, but it is so hard.  I see the members of FBC on the street and in the stores, and I wonder to myself, “Does HE know what HE is doing to us?  Does SHE care that we are driven from our Church Home? I see the men who worked side-by-side with us to build our sanctuary.  I see women who used to work with us on missions.  I want to ask them, ‘What happened?  What did we do to deserve this?   What CRIME have we committed against you that you should treat us this way?  What SIN have we committed against God that we should be punished so.? Are we less than dogs to you that we are treated in this way?  You have locked us out of our Church; you have taken all the things we bought and made for teaching, for worship, for preparing and serving meals, even our mowers and tools for caring for the grounds.  Not only have you taken all we loved, you have done all this with contempt and without remorse. You have taken our Church – the Church we built together – and given it to strangers.  Their songs and praises fill the sacred space we built with our sweat and gifts.  I know we must forgive you, but it is so very hard, when you do not even seem to know or care.”

“When I was younger we had only the drafty old farm house.  We all had to give our tithes to raise the $500 a month to pay the mortgage.  Some months we were short, and we would have a fund-raiser to make extra.  There were fewer than 10 families, and most of us made only about $1,000 a month; and we all tithed to keep our church going.  I remember the day we dedicated the sanctuary, and the day we opened the parking lot.  Now most of the shrubs we planted to landscape our grounds are dead – no one from FBC has watered or cared for them.  I drive by and see the sign in the strange Korean characters, and my heart breaks. I bruised my thumb stacking the bricks for that sign.  I know and love every wall and floor – I built them.  I cry inside every time I drive down that street.  I long to go into my Church and praise God; I long to kneel at our altar and take communion, but I cannot.  I realize that I will never do these simple things again, and part of me dies inside.  I wonder if the Christians who worship there now know how I feel?  I wonder if the people of FBC know how we suffer?”

“I used to go to the church playground almost everyday.  Now, even in the summer, I cannot play there.  My Mother says that the First Baptist Church has taken our Church from us. One Sunday we went to the Church and found it locked.  We could not go inside so we worshiped in the parking lot.   Now, on Sundays we go to people’s homes and pray and sing.  At first that was fun, but we miss our Sunday School classrooms and having dinners at the church.  Mostly, I missed Vacation Bible School.  We always had lots of children – not just our members – but others, and we all had fun.  This Christmas was worst of all.  We always have a pageant with the Christ Child and the animals in the stable; and we sing Christmas songs and open gifts.  We couldn’t have Christmas in our Church this year, and I cried.  Now, on Sunday, I see strangers coming and going at our Church, and other children playing on the playground. We used to read about Christians in Muslim countries who are persecuted for their faith.  I didn’t understand the word ‘persecuted.’  Now I do!  My Mother cannot tell me why they have taken our Church.  Can you?”

“If I could speak to the people of First Baptist Church, I would say – ‘Who are you that you have the power to take everything from us?  Who are we that we are powerless to protect what is rightfully ours?  What kind of justice; what kind of country allows one people to treat another with contempt and without pity?  We wait and pray that God will defend us; that God will answer our prayers.’  I would say to the Christians at First Baptist Church, ‘Ask God if what you have done is right?  Ask God if it is HIS will that you should drive us from our Church and take all that we gave to Him?’”


Since I wrote this blog, Primera Iglesia Bautista de Frisco (with the help of a friend from FBC) has found a temporary meeting place in a little building located at 8120 Sunnyvale Circle in Frisco.  They have invited friends to join their Worship Service this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and to stay for a Fellowship Lunch.  I hope that some of those reading this will join us in supporting this little Hispanic congregation, and demonstrating that Christian love reaches across barriers of culture and language.

Thursday, January 3, 2013



It is often said that The best test of Truth is Time.  Lies will be revealed with the passage of time.  Last Spring, three of the pastors of First Baptist Church Frisco (FBC) met with concerned members of their congregation.  The subject of the meeting was the closing of the Primera Iglesia Bautista De Frisco by First Baptist Church.  Several assertions were made by the pastors at this meeting.  The passage of time now allows us to test the veracity of their statements.

Let’s consider the Pastors’ statements:

1.     STATEMENT #1:  The reason for the lock-out is to protect the congregation of Primera Iglesia Bautista (PIB) from a minister (Rev. Ruiz) whose character flaws make him unfit to pastor a Baptist Congregation.  
a.     In the subsequent months, the PIB Congregation agreed to fire Rev. Ruiz, if FBC would return their Church. 
b.     Having achieved their professed goal, did FBC restore the church to the Hispanic congregation?  NO

2.     STATEMENT #2: There is no desire to destroy or abolish Primera Iglesia Bautista.  FBC’s actions are not racist, and not motivated by prejudice or cultural insensitivity.  FBC loves the people of PIB, and only wishes to protect their faith.
a.     FBC has not attempted to work with or even communicate with the board, officers, or members of PIB to resolve the conflict.   Until PIB hired a lawyer, there was no communication between the PIB membership and the FBC leadership.
b.     In a spirit of love and protection, the pastors of FBC appropriated all of the furnishings and equipment in the PIB Church building.  What they wanted to use, they kept in the church, and everything else they threw into a trailer and dumped in a storage facility.  Then they notified the pastor of PIB that he could pick up anything he wanted from the discard heap. 
a.     Finally, in their desire to protect and love the people of PIB, FBC leased the PIB church building (equipped with PIB belongings) to a Korean congregation.  This is Christian love and protection?

3.     STATEMENT #3: FBC is not motivated by financial gain to destroy PIB in order to secure the PIB property.
a.     PIB hired a lawyer to negotiate a settlement with FBC, and agreed to all of FBC’s demands in order to recover their church.  They agreed to fire Rev. Ruiz.  They agreed to accept outside supervision in their selection of a pastor and in the management of their church.  Did all of this move FBC to return the church to the Hispanic congregation?  NO
b.     Is there anything PIB could do to persuade FBC to return their church?  Apparently not.
c.      Is FBC prepared to invest large sums to employ lawyers to fight all attempts by PIB to regain their church and property?  YES
d.     Does this indicate that FBC intends to keep possession of the PIB Church and property no matter what PIB does?  YES!
e.     Does FBC desperately need the millions to be gained from the sale of the PIB Church property?  YES!



Since the publication of this blog, Primera Iglesia Bautista de Frisco has secured a temporary home in a prefabricated building.  They are meeting there for the first time this Sunday, Jan. 6, at 10:30.  After services there will be a fellowship lunch.  Any Christians wishing to support this little Hispanic congregation in their time of need should consider attending.  In this way we can demonstrate that Christian Love is not bound by culture or language.


IT’S A SIN TO KILL A CHURCH (Or A Mockingbird)


When 2012 began, the Primera Iglesia Bautista De Frisco (PIB) was a thriving Christian Congregation exerting a positive influence in the town of Frisco.  They operated a street ministry in their neighborhood, and supported foreign missions in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Cuba and the Bahamas.  After 25 years as a mission church, they were about to complete incorporation and achieve legal independence.  They were full of faith and optimism.

They had given their time and their money to make their little Church beautiful – volunteering to landscape and clean and paint.  Their Sunday school rooms and kitchen facilities were well equipped and demonstrated the family-centered mission of the little Hispanic Church.  They had just celebrated Christmas, hosting all the children from their central Frisco neighborhood.

As 2013 begins, the little congregation is dramatically changed.  After nine months, locked out of their Church; after losing all of their equipment and furnishings; after seeing a Korean congregation possessing and enjoying all that was theirs; after being betrayed by their brothers in Christ, they are short on optimism and hope.  They are angry, and constantly fearful that the remaining families will desert  -- terrified that their beloved Church is dying.

And who, or what is killing Primera Iglesia Bautista De Frisco?  Is it a bank with a forfeited mortgage?  Is it a business with unpaid bills?  Is it the government with unpaid taxes or illegal activities?  No it is none of these. 

First Baptist Church of Frisco locked the doors of PIB Church last March 25, five days after the Hispanic mission church notified their sponsor that they had completed incorporation under Texas law, and were eligible for independence.  The stated reason for locking the Hispanic congregation out of the Church they had bought and used for over 25 years was the character of their pastor.  Although Rev. Ruiz had led PIB for almost a decade, he was now considered unfit by FBC.  However, even when PIB finally agreed to fire their beloved minister, FBC was not satisfied.

In an almost unbelievable display of distain and disrespect, the pastors of FBC appropriated all of the equipment and furnishings in the Hispanic Church.  Everything from audiovisual equipment and musical instruments to pots and pans was taken.  What FBC could use was kept, and everything else was hauled and dumped in a storage facility.   PIB was informed that they could pick up what they wanted from the things piled in storage.  Then FBC leased the PIB Church, furnished with PIB property, to a Korean congregation. 

It is hard to believe that the only objective of FBC was to protect the people of PIB from an unworthy Pastor.  If their goal was to punish Rev. Ruiz, they are succeeding.  If their goal was to kill Primera Iglesia Bautista, they are succeeding.  If their goal was to appropriate the property of PIB for the financial benefit for FBC, they are succeeding.  FBC is killing their former mission church and in the process enriching FBC by close to 2 million dollars.  

One can only wonder how the good people of FBC feel about the destruction of the little Hispanic Church and the enrichment of FBC by these actions.



For most churches, missions consume human and financial resources; but First Baptist Church of Frisco is demonstrating that with shrewd management, a mission church can be worth a few million in profits.  

The basic story is simple.  First Baptist Church sponsored a small Hispanic Church for 25 years.  Over these years, the Hispanic church (Primera Iglesia Bautista De Frisco) bought and paid for their building, paid their utilities, expanded, remodeled, improved, landscaped, and furnished their church.  The church prospered, contributed to the Frisco community and sponsored local and foreign missions.  The partnership between the two Baptist congregations was mutually beneficial.

Then in 2010-2012, three events converged.  First, the value of property near downtown Frisco began to escalate dramatically as Exide Industries closed.  The property purchased by Primera Iglesia for $45,000 was anticipated to increase in value into the millions.  Second, Primera Iglesia Bautista completed the process of becoming incorporated and independent under Texas law.  And finally, First Baptist Church of Frisco experienced financial difficulties related to their ambitious building program, and the economic slow down.  

Declaring that they had decided that the long-time minister of Primera Iglesia Bautista was not worthy to be a Baptist pastor, First Baptist Church locked the doors of the Hispanic Church, took possession of all the belongings and furnishings, and gave a short-term lease on the furnished building to a Korean congregation.   

When Primera Iglesia Bautista engaged a law firm to seek justice, FBC engaged in delaying tactics, pretending to be willing to return the church if PIB would fire their pastor and agree to external supervision. PIB agreed to the terms, but after several months it became apparent that FBC can afford to pay legal fees until the financial resources of the poor Hispanic congregation are depleted.   FBC will take the PIB property by legal default.  The injustice is even more apparent when the details of the case are revealed.


This Story of two churches begins 27 years ago in 1986, when the Rev. Phillip Salomon and four Hispanic families formed Primera Inglesia Bautista De Frisco, known widely as PIB of Frisco.  First Baptist Church of Frisco (FBC) opened their doors to their brothers in Christ, and a partnership was formed, which lasted over a quarter of a century.  For almost two years, the PIB congregation met at First Baptist Church.  

Then, in 1988, an elderly couple (the Montgomery’s) wanted to sell their home near downtown Frisco.  For $45,000 in payments of $500 per month, PIB could buy the frame home.  Since PIB was not incorporated, Rev. Steve Fowler, Mr. Jim Newman, and the Missions Committee of FBC contracted to sponsor the purchase by PIB.  Agreements were signed on Oct. 31, 1988.  From Jan. 4, 1989 through Oct. 4, 2000, Primera Iglesia Bautista made 144 monthly payments totaling $72,000 to the Montgomery’s, completing the terms of the sale.  This was a major accomplishment for a congregation of 10 families with a median income of less than $10,000.

Having purchased their property, PIB devoted their resources to improvements.  Between 1990 and 1991, they constructed a 20’ by 40’ Sanctuary.  A gift from the Roeschley Family purchased most of the materials, and men from PIB and FBC 
worked together.  Over the next four years, the little congregation remodeled the 70 year-old frame house, bought furnishings and equipment and lovingly decorated their sacred space.

By their 25th Anniversary, in 2011, PIB was a prospering Church with a beautiful brick building, paved parking and landscaping.  Their ministries included a street ministry in Frisco, and foreign missions in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Cuba, and the Bahamas.  They were completing the process of incorporating and establishing full independence.  The Congregation celebrated a Victory In Christ.

On March 20,  2012, PIB notified First Baptist Church that they had completed the incorporation process.  Five days later on Sunday, March 25, the PIB congregation could not enter their Church.  The doors had been locked by First Baptist Church.  In shock, the Hispanic Congregation held services in the parking Lot.  

When the chairman of the Missions Committee of First Baptist objected to FBC’s actions, he was replaced.  The leadership of First Baptist stated publicly that they objected to the Pastor at PIB, and that their quarrel was not with the church, but with Rev. Ruiz.  While the PIB congregation continued to meet in homes, FBC entered the church building, and began removing PIB property.  Keeping what they felt was useful; the FBC pastors removed the other contents and dumped everything else in a storage building.


Then FBC leased the PIB Church Building to a Korean Congregation, including the PIB equipment and furnishings in their lease.  Then FBC notified PIB that they could collect the discarded belongings from the storage building.  The disrespect and contempt for the feelings of PIB members was apparent in everything FBC did.  The PIB congregation had sacrificed to make their church beautiful.  To the FBC pastors, many of the PIB belongings may have been junk; but to the members of the congregation these simple things were their gifts to a beloved church.

The congregation of PIB is neither rich, nor sophisticated.  At first they could not believe that their brothers in Christ in First Baptist Church would steal their church and appropriate their furnishings.  When the Korean lease was made public, the members of PIB finally sought legal assistance.  At first their hopes were high.  First Baptist Church seemed willing to negotiate and settle out of court, if PIB was willing to fire Rev. Ruiz.  However, as time passed and their money ran low, PIB realized that FBC was not negotiating in good faith.  The congregation of PIB can’t afford to fund an extended legal battle.   It is clear that FBC has the financial resources necessary to bury the PIB legal defense.  FBC continues to invest in legal services that will pay rich dividends when PIB is destroyed.  Since PIB cannot afford to contest the “theft” of their church, FBC will eventually make a nice profit on valuable real estate.

2 SAMUEL 12:

In the 12th chapter of 2 Samuel, the prophet Nathan tells King David the story of injustice perpetrated by a rich man against his poor neighbor.   It is heart breaking to realize that a Church has been stolen; and that the thief is another Church.  It is even worse to realize that we are all just standing by and watching this injustice.  

EDMUND BURK – “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”