MYAKKA CITY — It’s not unusual to see Pastor Fidel Diaz out in the tomato fields of East Manatee, ministering to the spiritual needs of farmworkers, and distributing food and water.
As important as that is, it offers only a small glimpse into the clergyman’s vast energy and enthusiasm.
He also leads Latino congregations in Myakka City and Bradenton — Tabernaculo Biblico Bautista — and serves as a chaplain for the Manatee Sheriff’s Office, Manatee Memorial Hospital, and the Pittsburgh Pirates during spring training.
The former president of the Manatee Ministerial Association is a dynamic study in the power of faith and positive thinking in the seemingly enormous challenges he tackles.
“God will provide whatever you need,” he says.
Diaz, a native of El Salvador who speaks English, Spanish, Greek and Korean, started the Myakka congregation of Tabernaculo Biblico Bautista Monte Sion in 2009. The congregation worships in the historic sanctuary of Bethany Baptist Church, 26604 State Road 64 E.
The Bradenton congregation, which was founded in 2007, worships at 1609 17th St. W. in facilities provided by Southside Baptist
“We are members of the Manatee Southern Baptist Association and the Florida Baptist Convention,” he said.
Members of both congregations are predominantly Mexican, and most of the Myakka congregation works at Falkner Farms.
Diaz, 49, speaks glowingly of the cooperation Falkner Farms offers with his ministry.
“John Falkner is our major angel,” he said.
He also speaks warmly of his partnership with the Rev. Mark Horton of Bethany Baptist Church, and Dr. Ronnie L. Kilburn of Southside Baptist Church.
“We are really blessed in Bradenton and Myakka City,” Diaz said.
When told that he seems to be a really busy man, Diaz responds simply: “Praise the Lord.”
Then he elaborates.
“Whatever I do, I do for the Lord. He gives me the strength for it. This is not work. It’s to help others,” he said. “I believe one person can make a difference. Jesus made a difference for us.”
Out of his work with jail inmates, Diaz has a dream of creating a trade school for them.
“We don’t need more jails. We need to lead more people to Jesus,” he said, adding that providing training as electricians and carpenters might be the ticket.
Diaz is well-respected in the English-speaking community.
He recently filled in at the pulpit for the vacationing pastor of Bethany Baptist, said member Irene Albritton.
Lee Parks, a deacon at Bethany Baptist, is impressed with Diaz.
“He is a man with a heart for people,” Parks said. “He is like no other as far as what he has done with migrant people. He’s all over the place — he’s really 24/7.”
James A. Jones Jr.