On this day in 1846, General Samuel Kearny took possession of New Mexico in the name of the United States of America. Soon after he raised the flag over Santa Fe, two Baptist missionaries, H.W. Read and Samuel Gorman, entered the new territory in the name of Christ Jesus. They may have been the first of any missionaries in New Mexico other than Roman Catholic.
Eleven years later, Bro. Read had the joy of leading Blas Chavez, a twenty-one-year old Spanish-speaking national, to the Lord. Soon after that Bro. Gorman baptized the young man. Under the leadership of the two missionaries, Bro. Chavez grew rapidly in the grace of God, training to become a minister of the gospel.
When the War Between the States commenced, New Mexico was occupied by Confederate troops. The two missionaries, whose loyalties lay with the North, suspended their work and returned home, but the work of Christ continued through Bro. Chavez. While primarily ministering to Spanish-speaking inhabitants, he didn’t fail to preach to anyone who would listen, and several churches were started among various nationalities of people. It is said that Bro. Chavez was inexhaustible. Eventually he became known as “The Grand Old Man of the Baptist ministry” in New Mexico. After fifty years of service he was called home on February 20, 1907.