He insisted to the point that Dr. Fernandez finally agreed and attended the conference. That same man provided lodging at his home for him and another preacher named Roland Garlick.
Dr. Garlick was already suffering from Parkinson’s disease at the time, but was still able to teach. During the conference, he taught a course on soul winning, and Dr. Fernandez was asked to preach. Messages originated during that conference that, by His grace, God also used later on. These were messages such as: “There is a Hell” (the responsibility of soul-winning), “Clean Your Lamp” (the essentials of separation for the Christian), “The Fullness of the Holy Spirit” (we are not the ones who do the work, it is He through us). He also taught classes on how to do the work, in which he demonstrated methods he had learned up to that point, had put into practice, and were working at his church. Dr. Ezekiel Salazar, who had not long before started a church in California which consisted of a small group of approximately 100 people that attended regularly, attended this conference. At the conference, he heard about what God was doing in the Spanish ministry at the First Baptist Church of Hammond and decided to visit the church to see the work firsthand. God impressed him during that visit, and he thought if God could do something great in Hammond, Indiana, He could also do it in California. He returned to California with that vision. Years later, the Lord would bless the ministry of Montecito Baptist Church with more than 1,300 people every Sunday.
A few years after this first conference, Dr. Roland Garlick invited Dr. Fernandez to preach at a conference in Guadalajara, Mexico. It was 1984 when he attended this small conference which consisted of a daytime attendance of approximately 30 people and a maximum attendance of 100 people in the evenings. Dr. Fernandez returned home thinking that the conference had been a failure. In that small group of people, however, there were two pastors that were greatly moved by the teachings: Pastor Alejandro Cordova and Pastor Hazael Cocon. Later on, Pastor Alejandro Cordova’s church in Celaya would become one of the largest Baptist churches in all of Mexico, and Hazael Cocon would become the pastor of a tremendous church in the Mexican state of Campeche. They both credit the teachings received during that conference for being what God used to transform their ministries. Through the years, God would transform and develop men such as these who would have an impact on the lives of other pastors through their preaching and teaching at our conferences.
As God began transforming ministries in Latin America during the next several years, Dr. Fernandez and a few other men of God who now shared the same burden began traveling with Dr. Roland Garlick to numerous conferences throughout the Spanish-speaking world. God was doing amazing things, and the potential for even greater things was immense. It was this God-given opportunity that led Dr. Fernandez to resign his position as the Spanish pastor at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, in 1990, where he spent 18 marvelous years. This was necessary in order for him to dedicate his time completely to train pastors and laymen through the conferences.
Since then, the Fires of Evangelism Conferences that we know today were developed. Fires of Evangelism currently consists of 21 yearly conferences in over 30 different locations throughout the United States, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. By His grace, God has used this ministry to transform many churches throughout Latin America. It is estimated that over 10,000 people have surrendered their lives at a Fires of Evangelism Conference and that hundreds of churches have been started by Bible college graduates who surrendered to preach a Fires of Evangelism Conference. In Mexico alone, the number of independent fundamental Baptist churches has grown from approximately 600 to over 2,000 in the last few decades, and the number of professing Christians has grown from just under one million to over ten million. Many pastors attest that this growth is directly related to the influence of the Fires of Evangelism Conferences.
The Fires of Evangelism Conferences developed out of a great need for training and motivating Spanish-speaking pastors in doing the work of the Lord. In the fall of 1981, a layman from Calexico, California, invited Dr. Fernandez to preach at a conference in Mexicali, Mexico that following February. However, he explained that the Pastor of the church needed to approve the invitation, for Dr. Fernandez had never been invited to a conference by a layman before. The man explained that since he paid for the conference,he was in charge of inviting the speakers.