Hispanic Students and Church Members Join Hands
The Hispanic-American Church on the campus of Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee, has a growing group of involved students. The students show a great interest in the spiritual and social events of the congregation, and the church is happy to have so many talented young people.
Part of the Family
Every year, a special adoption ceremony takes place where each family “adopts” a student; the students then become part of the family activities they are deprived of when they are away from home. This program has been a profound benefit to the students and church members. The Hispanic-American members first reached within to their student population, and now together they are creating new activities for the church, and reaching out to the world via evangelism.
The Latin Night
Several of the student leaders of the Latin American Club at Southern are among the active members of this church. For the club’s first event, “The Latin Night,” which takes place twice a year, the students decided that instead of hosting the customary social event, they would instead hold a service of worship with testimonies and spiritual songs. The goal was to convey the message that God is first in their lives, and the program was inspirational for the audience.
Currently, a school of discipleship and evangelism for the young people is being promoted (www.discipuladoorganico.com), and will be held June 2017 on Southern’s campus. Enrollment is already open, but space is limited. The project was shared through sermons and talks that are transmitted weekly on Facebook and the Internet.
The goal of this school is for young people of different cultures to share ideas, receive instruction, and be motivated to develop a faith based on principles, in order to carry out the fulfillment of the mission in an effective way among their secular friends. Already the discipleship school has taken the interest of young people from around the world, and many are processing their visas to attend.
The students also collaborate in the virtual evangelism programs that are carried out in the church through the Internet. They take on much of the work of photography, design, and production. Eight videos on discipleship were created, then transmitted through Facebook on Friday evenings during the months of December 2016 and January 2017. These eight videos had reached 200,000 viewers by mid-February. There is a questionnaire that comes with the video which helps the audience analyze the material in the light of Scripture.
- In Spain: Several members of evangelical congregations joined to watch them. They were highly motivated by the contents of this material, and contacted Joel Barrios, pastor of the Collegedale Hispanic-American Church, to invite him to meet with them to hold conferences in Galicia in 2018. Also in Spain, Hope Media will use the videos as a means to attract secular youth.
- In Tucumán, Argentina: Members of a congregation were concerned that some of the newly baptized youth were not interested in Sabbath School, did not attend church service regularly, nor get involved in church activities. One of the elders invited them to analyze these videos in a family home and study the Bible. As a result, 14 of these young people became active and are excited about studying God’s plan for their lives.
At the end of this series, the church started an interactive seminar via Facebook, which takes place on Friday nights. It is a guide to study the Bible with people outside the church. The results of this activity can be seen in the comments people make as the seminar is in session.
An evangelical woman who lives in Colombia contacted Barrios to tell him that she watches the transmission of his sermons every Sabbath, and can recite them by heart. She confided that her financial position is solid, and she has contacts among the wealthiest people in the country — adding that she was willing to receive any request that would help in this ministry. At the same time, the Adventist University of Medellin, without knowing about this incident, invited Barrios to give the Week of Prayer for young people next September.
An evangelical young man who had been following church sermons on the Internet contacted the pastor in October 2016 to tell him that he was baptized in the Adventist Church, and is now working for his parents and grandparents, who are founders of evangelical churches in his country.
Youth Revival Week
During the month of February 2017, the church’s student ministry, led by Martha Calderon, organized a youth revival week with the goal of encouraging a deeper relationship with God. Preachers were students who shared poignant testimonies: The positive impact of attending Southern Adventist University and being an active part of the church has caused positive results in their lives. Subsequently, they decided to go to other congregations to promote Southern Adventist University.
Many of them have contacted the pastors of their hometown churches to share their testimonies with the local youth. The first promotion event and revival was in New Orleans in February. At the close of the weekend, the father of one of the students saw these students preach and testify. His daughter was enthusiastically engaged in this activity, and he expressed his joy at realizing how Christian education could impact the feeling of belonging to a local church. He commented on how blessed he feels about his daughter’s opportunity to participate in a Hispanic church on Southern’s campus, which gives her the opportunity to work in different ministries, instead of just attending a church and getting lost in the anonymity of the crowd.
He thanked God for Christian education and the Collegedale Hispanic-American Church, which opens its arms generously to embrace these young souls full of energy and dreams, and to channel them along the path of service to God.
is the SURF customer service and accounts manager at the Southern Union in Norcross, Georgia.
Southern Union | April 2017