LOUISVILLE—Omar and Tia Loza, who are being sent by La Respuesta-Highview Baptist Church in Louisville to serve God in the Americas, were among the 20 new missionaries appointed by the International Mission Board Feb. 28.
A native of Minnie, Ky., Tia is a graduate of South Floyd High School and attended the University of Kentucky before enrolling in the Seminary Wives Institute at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
As a youth, she was very active in her church youth group, participating on a drama/interpretive movement team, church camps, short-term missions projects and Mission-fuge. In her 20s, she taught a small group of 15 girls and volunteered at God’s Appalachian Partnership (GAP) with the pantry, Bible studies, outreach, childcare, singles ministry, short-term missions, discipleship classes, prayer team, FAITH outreach and serving as a greeter.
After marrying, she led a weekly international home Bible study, international Sunday school class. Later, as a mom, she again assisted with a home Bible study and with children’s church and childcare, English & Spanish Vacation Bible School, hospitality and administrative work.
“All of this has prepared me to be fluid—not flexible, but fluid—as things can and will always change,” Tia said. “The one constant, however, is the Word of God, that never changes. There has and always will be a need for Christ, and all these activities directed me to Him and His word for security, for answers, for comfort.”
These activities, she added, also have helped her in understanding various cultures and subcultures—something that’s beneficial on the mission field.
She also credits a Lexington congregation with developing her heart for missions. “Porter Memorial Baptist Church intentionally disciples its members to pray, give, send and go,” she said.
Porter Memorial’s missions pastor at the time, the late Larry Cranfill, and Porter’s current missions pastor, Trent Snyder, who currently is an IMB trustee, were both instrumental in providing international field experience, where Tia would meet her future husband, Omar, while on a short-term mission trip to Bella Union in Peru.
Omar converted to Christ in his home country of Peru, where he began sharing the Gospel with his friends and family. “A few years after reading that God wants us to go to the ends of the earth, I visited an Andean town, and I saw Aymara people worshiping God in their own language and culture,” Omar said. “God put in my heart a desire to see many different people groups worshiping Him.”
Omar was a missionary serving in the neighboring town of Acari when they met, Tia explained. “He’d been on the field for two years,” she added.
Realizing their interest in each other, Tia requested pre-dating counsel from Cranfill’s wife, Jane. Although she had never been asked before, Jane agreed, saying that “it wasn’t such a bad idea.”
After only a week, she and Omar became a couple, and they married almost a year to the day of their first meeting. Now, some 10 years later, they have two kids, Eliana Fe Loza-Martin, 3, and Ezra Galileo Loza-Martin, 1. While their kids are still very young, they are excited about going to Guadalajara, Mexico, where Omar and Tia will be serving as missionaries.
In Perú, they did church and missions work, visiting people of the town and surrounding towns together. Omar was a pastor and led worship and music in three services on Sundays, prayer service on Tuesdays, and youth/children’s church on Fridays. Meanwhile, Tia, though her Spanish was lacking, greeted people, tried to comfort those needing comforting, and hosted events as need.
“We led multiple home Bible studies throughout the area towns,” she recalled. “Occasionally, we did missions outreach in Nasca, earthquake relief in Pisco, and attempted to reach people further up in Otapara.”
Omar then decided to attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, receiving a masters in theological studies in December 2016.
While in Louisville, “La Respuesta gave us the opportunity to join a multicultural Spanish church, which had members from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Cuba and other places,” Tia said. Omar led a home Bible study, taught Sunday School and participate in community groups, she added.
“The English side of Highview Baptist Church helped Omar become bi-cultural,” Tia said, noting that its pastor of missions, John Klaassen, led a helpful group called Missions Academy.