BAXTER INSTITUTE IN MEXICO
A YOUNG MAN'S DREAM: EVANGELIZING LATIN AMERICA
(We occasionally receive requests for information about the beginning of Baxter Institute in Mexico. Since Harris Goodwin founded Baxter Institute there one year after establishing the "La Voz Eterna" publications ministry in 1963, we are presenting this article written by T. C."Bill" Miller, longtime elder at the Garden Oaks Church of Christ in Houston, Texas and member of the Board of Directors of Baxter until his untimely death in 1999.)
Baxter Institute had its beginning in Mexico City in 1964, but it didn't just happen. Let me give you a little background. In the early 1960s, Baxter was only a dream in the mind of a man. This man was well acquainted with Latin America, as he had received his Master's degree at the University of the Americas in Mexico City in the mid1940s. He had just completed his Bachelor's degree at David Lipscomb University at the ripe old age of 17. After completing his studies in Mexico City, he settled in Hollywood, California as a preacher for the Hollywood Church of Christ. During his tenure there, he continued visiting Latin America. Also, while at Hollywood, he continued his education, receiving his Ph.D. It was ten years after I met him before I knew he had his Ph.D. Many of you know I am speaking about Harris Goodwin.
At this time there was only one small congregation of the church of Christ in Mexico City, a city with millions of people. Missionaries were going to Latin countries from the U.S.A. even in the 1930s. Progress was slow and mostly the poor were being reached. With each political upheaval, the U.S. preachers would return home and the Latin converts would be left to carry on the work as best they could in the established congregations. There were Latin preacher training schools in existence for any who wished to preach. Many who enrolled were barely literate, with some having more education. There was a need for evangelists who could reach a higher stratum of society and wealth so that congregations could be self-supporting.
The dream of Harris envisioned a school catering to students who were more educated and had completed secondary or high school level. The students would be Latins from Latin countries, so they would be preaching at home after graduation when political upheavals came; so there they would stay. The entrance requirements would be very high and the students must have high moral standards. Grade levels must be maintained at 80 or above to remain at Baxter. In addition, weekends would be spent in evangelistic efforts by the students, giving practical experience of the classroom theory.
Harris' dream also consisted of sending the graduates out to begin congregations, with literature for strengthening and teaching. If this sounds like the biblical approach to evangelization, it's because it is the biblical way the world was evangelized in New Testament times.
In the early 1960s Harris looked around for someone he could send and personally support in the Latin mission field, someone who could carry out his dream. No one could be found; he decided he should not ask someone else to do something he would not do. He was still preaching at the Hollywood church and also owned a large business. He sold his business and moved to Mexico City with John Matz, after discussing his purpose with the Hollywood elders.
After arriving in Mexico City, property was located to begin Baxter Institute and also to be used for worship. Many people helped in the purchase of the property. The Hollywood church was helpful in many ways and the West End church in Nashville were among the first to become involved in this work; the Garden Oaks church in Houston was close behind.
A number of problems developed with the Mexican government and also with labor unions and the postal service. Baxter began looking for a location where the government was more cooperative.
Due to these same problems, the printing ministry of La Voz Eterna was moved to Houston, Texas in 1970 where it still remains. Harris, Ken Rhoads and others searched for a new location for Baxter in Central America and finally settled on the property in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Baxter was moved to this site in 1978.
Since Baxter moved to Tegucigalpa, many good things have happened, and Baxter's scope of influence and prestige in Latin America has continued to expand. Baxter has become a great school. Every person who performs the most menial job, those who teach, the students, those who support Baxter financially, and whose who work for Baxter in any other way can be proud of their contribution to fulfilling Harris' dream of long ago.
- T. C. ("Bill") Miller
Houston, Texas(Although our brother Bill's article was primarily about Baxter Institute, we are happy to say that the Garden Oaks church has supported the "La Voz Eterna" ministry equally thru out all these years and continues to be one of our major supporters in 2008.)
Harris Goodwin also began several medical, dental and nutrition ministries in Tegucigalpa. In 2000 he founded the beautiful home for abandoned street children in El Zamorano, Honduras called "Jóvenes en Camino" ("Children on the Way"). In 2008 he is serving as missionary and editor of LA VOZ ETERNA magazine, which he founded in 1963 and which is requested by brothers and friends in 30 Spanish speaking nations.
(Pasajes bíblicos tomados de la Biblia Reina-Valera Revisada ©1960 Sociedades Bíblicas en América Latina. Copyright renovado 1988 Sociedades Bíblicas Unidas. Utilizado con permiso.)
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