Roger Alvarez shares highlights from the “Hope Caravan.”
In the struggles and the trials, the church continues to move on…” These are the lyrics of a song written in Spanish that convey our experience through COVID-19.
Astonished by the news, and in disbelief of what was happening, signs were placed on our church doors: “We are closed, due to the pandemic.” With aching hearts and fearing the unknown, we entered into unchartered territory; we began our journey into the quarantine trusting in the Almighty for guidance and safety.
The “Hope Caravan” from different churches throughout our territory took rays of hope to hospitals, firefighters, and the homeless, giving them food and sharing the love of Christ. The idea born in the Emmanuel Spanish Church in Tampa, Florida, rapidly spread throughout our churches. Soon we were celebrating birthdays, supporting our brothers and sisters through their times of loss, going to funeral homes, celebrating graduations, distributing flowers for Mother’s Day, and simply letting them know that we care. Every Sabbath since the quarantine began, the Hope Caravan, in some churches, distributes food to the needy members of our congregations. In some cases, members donate funds to purchase food to support this effort. Different chat groups have connected people in the Church like never before. The circle of interaction among church members has expanded; people are truly looking out for each other, praying for each other, and truly being “their brother’s keeper.”
The Lord has truly blessed us with committed members, putting God’s work before their own needs, calling their pastors to find out how to return their tithe, even when they didn’t have enough to pay their own rent. To God be the glory!
Through the Holy Spirit, we developed a strategy and created new ways to minister to our communities in very uncertain and tumultuous circumstances. Like the angel of Revelation, with technology on our side, the YouTube signal reached literally thousands of people around the world. An average of 82,000 people from more than 60 countries have been blessed every week since we began the quarantine. People have surrendered their lives to Christ, and 19 new individuals have been baptized so far into our congregations since the beginning of this pandemic. We give God the praise!
Eight of our members were affected by the virus, including an entire family of four. We suffered one death. In spite of the agony and death surrounding us, hope always prevailed.
Jesús Cabrera shares his testimony about God’s amazing grace.
Hello, my name is Jesús Cabrera. For those who do not know me, my wife, Jacqueline, has been a Seventh-day Adventist for 12 years. Many of you might know I am a commercial pilot. On March 28, 2020, my whole life changed. On one of my flights that day, several of my passengers became contaminated with COVID-19, and even though I took the necessary precautions, I too became infected with the virus. It was quite shocking to receive such news.
The first question that went through my mind was, “What’s going to happen to my wife and my entire family in case I die?” I knew I was not ready to die, and I also wondered how my family would survive. I know that many of you reading this may say to yourself, “I am ready to die,” because you have given your lives to Christ, but I couldn’t say the same because I had not given my life to the One that gave me life. I had frequently visited my wife’s church, Silver Palms, Miami, Florida, and you would think saying “yes” would have been simple for me to say. Something always held me back.
Fearful of dying without surrendering my life to Christ, I poured out my heart to God, pleading for Him to be merciful to me and allow me to be reborn in Jesus Christ, and promising that I would commit my life to serving Him. Only those who have been infected with COVID-19 and have survived know the horrible symptoms that you can experience. During my time of anguish, my wife’s pastor, Josue Parker, called me without knowing my situation and offered to pray for me. At that moment, I knew that it was God answering my prayer. I am certain that it was God’s grace alone. He heard my cry, and that same day my symptoms were gone. Praise God! He has given me the opportunity to be a better man, husband, and son; and, now it’s up to me to do my part.
I … surrendered my life to Christ on Sabbath, June 6, 2020, and I will no longer have any fear in facing tomorrow, for I will live and serve Jesus Christ now and until His coming.
Brother Jesús Cabrera is a living testimony of God’s love, and a reminder of His great faithfulness.
The Hispanic community has hosted 40 Days of Prayer; Weeks of Prayer; and seminars related to prophecy, mental health, nutrition, marriage counseling, and “surviving the quarantine.” As a result, motivation and inspiration has been reaching people more than ever.
Matthew 24:14 says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations …” To that end, we tirelessly work. It is our motto, our sacred mission. The enemy meant this for evil, but the Lord used it to save many, and lives have been touched with the transforming power of the Gospel. Maranatha!
Southeastern | September 2020