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3-18-15 Columbia Union Hosts Hispanic Evangelism Event
By Carol Vanessa Leiva and Visitor staff
|Small lights were given during the final song and altar call to symbolize the attendee’s commitment to let their light shine in their communities. Photo by David Leiva
The theme “Livangelism (it’s all in all)” permeated every activity of the weekend. Nearly 2,300 members and pastors from more than 200 Hispanic churches gathered for the event that focused on fulfilling Christ’s mission. Leaders introduced and urged attendees to participate in the following initiatives: to share the Gospel with five friends; proclaim Jesus Christ with the goal of starting 500 new small groups; plant 15 new churches; focus all ministries and activities of the church on meeting community needs.
José Cortés, president of the New Jersey Conference, kicked off the event with a message titled “The Church With the Open Door,” where he invited delegates and pastors to cultivate an environment that opens the door to all who seek Christ, free from any prejudice and baggage. “The “open door” church is one that has Jesus and shares Jesus; one that has hope in the second coming and a mission, and these are shared with all who come in contact with the church of the open door,” he shared.
Roger Hernandez, director of Evangelism for the Southern Union, shared constructive principles for permanent and transformative church growth. He reminded delegates and pastors to transform each ministry to reach the community so churches will be ready to receive people.
Another focus of the festival was on using small groups to accomplish “living out” evangelism. Speakers challenged the delegates to turn their homes into places of worship and hold a small group week of prayer for the groups.
Attendees heard the story of 9-year-old Ariadna Reyes, who is practicing evangelism in her everyday life. Reyes was baptized after attending a family retreat with the Potomac Conference’s Wheaton Spanish church in Wheaton, Md. Immediately following her baptism, Reyes begged her parents to open a small group in their home, a great witness to her unconverted family. Each week her small group has nearly 30 people participating in Bible studies.
The entire congregation responded to Columbia Union president, Dave Weigley’s, challenge to attendees to “became passionate about being fishers of men” and bring at least one friend to Christ this year.
Event leaders prepared to give out a series of sermons for 500 small group evangelism meetings. But attendee response surpassed their expectations when people pledged to start more than 800 small groups.
“We longed and prayed for our planned Festival of Evangelism, Livevangelism 2015, to be more than just an event, but a new Pentecost,” says Rubén Ramos, Columbia Union vice president for the Multilingual Ministries and organizer of the event.