BWA Women’s Department President Visits DBU Campus

Raquel Contreras speaking to DBU students in the Patty and Bo Pilgrim Chapel during a DBU chapel service on Wednesday, September 26.
Raquel Contreras speaking to DBU students in the Patty and Bo Pilgrim Chapel during a DBU chapel service on Wednesday, September 26.

Raquel Contreras, who currently serves as President of the Baptist World Alliance's Women's Department, visited the Dallas Baptist University campus on September 26 and shared her testimony with students, faculty, and staff, encouraging them to trust in God for His plans and His perfect timing in their lives.

Contreras began the day speaking in the DBU chapel service in front of more than 1,400 students. A native of Chile, Contreras explained to students how she grew up in a home characterized by justice and spirituality. Her mother was a Southern Baptist missionary from North Carolina to Chile, where she met and married a Chilean lawyer. Naturally, Contreras pursued a legal career early in her life and even considered a life in diplomacy, while she always remained active in her Baptist church. One day in Sunday School, she met and soon married a young man who was studying to be a pastor, Guillermo Catalan. Sensing a new call to be a pastor's wife and support her husband through school, she left her growing legal career and moved with Guillermo to Dallas in order for him to attend then Dallas Baptist College.

Over the next eight years, the couple remained in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where he completed two degrees at DBC, as well as a degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, all the while pastoring a church. When they returned to Chile, Guillermo was eventually named president of the Chilean Baptist Theological Seminary. He served in this role as a leader among Chilean Baptists until his unexpected death in the early 2000s.

At that time, Contreras' life changed overnight. No longer a pastor's wife, she was now a widow with two teenage children. However, instead of standing in despair, she decided to serve the Lord one day at a time, and through this step of faith, God began to use her as a leader in new and unexpected ways.

After serving for a brief period of time in a local church, the Chilean National Convention, who was undergoing internal strife, unexpectedly and unanimously elected her as their president. During her time as president, she helped maintain harmony and order within the national convention and even helped to bring about reconciliation between the two Baptist conventions in Chile. Next, she was invited to be involved with the Baptist World Alliance on various councils, and eventually, the Union of Baptists of Latin America elected her to serve as their president. Her term as president of UBLA expired in 2010, and the following year, the Women's Department of the BWA asked her to serve a five-year term as president, and for the past two years, she has traveled the world serving Baptist women.

Recently, the Spanish Baptist Publishing House in El Paso, Texas, asked her to join them as their editorial director. Since that time, she has spearheaded a project to complete work on the first-ever Spanish Study Bible written by native Spanish speakers from a Latin American perspective. The Bible, sold in bookstores around the world, will soon be entering its second publishing.

"We don't see what is going to happen, and many times, we feel frustrated," Contreras shared with the students. "But then when we live one day at a time, we are able look back and see how the Lord works in our lives."

During the luncheon with the faculty and staff, Contreras also shared her story as a way to show how the Lord is working all over the world. She also brought greetings on behalf of the Women's Department of the BWA and shared stories from women around the world, especially those struggling with persecution, poverty, violence, and disasters.

"When we hear about these Baptists who are struggling in Burma refugee camps," she told those at the luncheon, "these are members of our family. These are our sisters and brothers."

Written by Kalie Lowrie

Kalie Lowrie was the former Director of News and Information at Dallas Baptist University.