ENTERPRISE, Ala. (WDHN) – Hispanic Heritage Month is every month at Iglesia Bautista PIBHE Alpha y Omega in Enterprise.
Offering services entirely in Spanish, PIBHE is not just a house of worship for its congregation, it is a place of community and family.
Pastor Manuel Martinez and his family moved from San Antonio to the Wiregrass 18 years ago to start a Spanish ministry at First Baptist Church in Enterprise.
In 2019, the ministry got its own building in the City of Progress, Iglesia Bautista PIBHE Alpha y Omega.
“Es importante para compartir la palabra de Dios y para que la gente busque a Dios y se acerque a Dios. (it is important to share the word of God and for the people to seek God and get closer to God.),” Pastor Martinez said.
As of July 1, 2021, Enterprise’s population was 9.4 percent Hispanic or Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The language barrier in the Wiregrass can prevent people who only speak Spanish from going to church.
“I remember how my parents didn’t want to go to church when I was younger,” seven year attendee Kimberli Juarez said. “I didn’t know there were churches like this here so I came here and I’m like, ‘You know what? We should try this church.’ My family was in a bad condition and everything and right now I just feel so peaceful.”
Just because everyone is speaking Spanish at PIBHE, it doesn’t mean the language barrier is entirely eliminated.
“No todas la comunidad hispana que vienen los otros países no habla español, muy bien. Hablan dialectos de su país entonces, a veces batalla, no para comunicarnos con ellos y segundo también las tradiciones que ellos traen son diferentes. (Much of the hispanic community that comes from other countries does not speak spanish very well. They speak dialects of their country so sometimes we struggle to communicate with the and the traditions that they bring are different.),” Pastor Martinez said.
Manuel and his wife Maria say one of their goals is to bring each culture and Spanish dialect in their church together to serve the community and God.
Right now the church has about 80 members some of whom have been attending their entire lives.
“It’s like a second home really,” lifelong attendee Pascual Baltazar said. “I get to come here and just worship.”
The Martinez’s hope that everyone who attends PIBHE sees it as a second home.
“We look like a family,” Maria Martinez said. “We share food and we share testimonies of how we got here, how we live and a lot of things.”
“We support each other,” Juarez said. “If anyone is needing help everyone just comes together and helps out.”
As PIBHE hopes to grow its community one of its next goals is establishing a youth ministry.
“Porque es el futuro de la iglesia. (because it is the future of the church.),” Pastor Martinez said.
Pastor Martinez has also played a role in establishing churches in other Hispanic communities, including in Panama City Beach, Florida.
He says it’s important to share the love of God with the Hispanic community in every place possible.
If you’d like to attend a service a PIBHE, they’re held Wednesday night’s at 7 p.m. and Sundays at noon.