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Potomac Hispanic Members Welcome New Plant to Camp Meeting
Story by Taashi Rowe and Tiffany Doss
Homero Salazar, pastor of the Washington Spanish church in Silver Spring, Md., baptizes a new member of the Potomac Conference. Photo by Ancient City Photography
Two months ago, the Chesterfield (Va.) Spanish group did not exist. But at Potomac Conference’s Spanish Camp Meeting, last weekend, the newly established group with some 50 members, were warmly welcomed, along with 11 others, into the sisterhood of churches. Held this year at the Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, Va., 2,000 attendees of the camp meeting were the embodiment of evangelism in action.
“This year camp meeting was specifically geared toward evangelism and growing the Word of God in a long-lasting way,” said Jacqueline Sanchez-Ventouris, assistant to the director for Hispanic Ministries. “Our preparation began long before camp meeting. We held 10 evangelism series in the Richmond area to generate a curiosity and thirst in the community. We hoped this would draw people to our camp meeting and ultimately they would have the desire to be part of something long term.”
Hispanic Ministries leaders chose the Richmond area for evangelism because of its dense population. Data from the 2010 U.S. Census says there are 316,256 people that live in the county of Chesterfield and no Seventh-day Adventist Church in that area. Out of that number, link2lead.com states that there are 33,940 Hispanics in Chesterfield County. The Hispanic Ministries leaders felt the responsibility to fulfill the mission of the conference: to go into each community of 20,000 or more and plant a new church group.”
Members from the Spanish-speaking Richmond Evangelistic Center, the mother church for the Chesterfield church, have committed to growing the group. Among them is Nazira Cabrera who walked away from the church for 22 years and was baptized two years ago. She and her family are now committed to evangelism. “A lot of people knew me when I used to drink and smoke and that’s a good thing for my ministry,” she says. “They can see that if Jesus can change me, then He can do anything.”
The Chesterfield church has 20 visitors every Sabbath and out of the 14 people who were baptized on Sabbath, five belong to Chesterfield. Only recently the fledgling group were in a small house, but due to God’s leading, they were able to find two Methodist churches willing to rent their facilities either for free or at a very reduced cost.
“We decided to go with the church that is charging us $200 a month for rent,” explained Carlo Duran, the church’s Bible worker who serves as pastor under the leadership of Obed Rosette, the district pastor. “That is a pittance! The upside is that the church has a free clinic that will give us an opportunity to share Christ with more people.”
The goal is to have five Spanish-speaking churches in the Richmond area. With three already established, they are more than halfway there. After the Sabbath services, hundreds of camp meeting attendees donned green shirts and walked the streets of Richmond witnessing and distributing 4,000 copies of Steps to Christ in English and Spanish. Mario Quinteros, a member of the Springfield (Va.) church said participating in this kind of witnessing was extremely important to him. “I met Jesus a year ago and now I see that there is no other way to live,” he said. “God saved me. I was doing a lot of wrong things, but He found me and showed me that He has a purpose for my life. That’s why I’m committed to showing other people how much Jesus loves us.”
The Sabbath program also included a ceremony celebrating 134 new graduates from the conference’s School of Discipleship. With newly minted certificates in the following courses: assistant to the pastor, evangelist, Bible instructor and small group leaders, the new graduates are committed to expanding the evangelism ministry across Potomac starting with camp meeting and beyond.
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