The Hispanic-American Church of Collegedale, Tenn., on the campus of Southern University, continues to work on the “Su Casa Church” project that launched about a year and a half ago. Building a bigger temple is one of the main goals, as attendance has grown to not being able to accommodate everyone in a single service. However, the main objective is to make this sanctuary a mission center that includes the training of disciples, production of audiovisual material, creation of evangelism tools used locally and abroad, and “organic” mobilization of the believers. Thus, different fundraising activities were organized.
The School of Organic Discipleship took place in June 2017. “We had 32 students from different states of the United States, Central and South America.. During the 10 days, we focused on presenting the Gospel without cultural additives. The group became a true organic church, where young people and adults from different countries mingled in a loving community, and reconfirmed their call to be part of the Adventist movement. Fourteen decided to be re-baptized on the last Sabbath ….. In addition, every night more than 2,000 spectators participated in the evening meeting via the Internet. Many were challenged to be witnesses in the locations where they live, to share the Gospel as the Bible admonishes,” said Joel Barrios, pastor of the Hispanic-American Church and director of the School of Organic Discipleship.
In order to collect funds for the Su Casa Church project, Barrios, together with Daniel García, in charge of the project, and John Younberg, one of the main collaborators, made an appointment with a possible donor who was going to attend an event in which they would participate as well. Before going to the meeting, they prayed intensely for God to intervene as they spoke of their need to this gentleman. The donor’s response was not what they expected: “I am going to donate money,” he said, “but only to plant a new church, not to build a new temple to replace the one you have.” They were not discouraged. On the contrary, they left the meeting convinced that since they had prayed, that was the answer to their prayer.
After the meeting with the donor, the group headed to an invited lunch. They had an assigned table, but one of them took the opportunity to sit elsewhere, leaving his chair empty. A young Chinese man, “Dennis,” occupied it, and they introduced themselves. Dennis told them he is an entrepreneur in China, but decided to study theology at Southern Adventist University in 2016. When Barrios introduced himself, the young man was surprised, because someone had earlier advised him to talk to Barrios about a project he is working on.
A group of Chinese students had started to meet at Dennis’ house on Sabbaths, and started looking for Chinese families in the community. Many they discovered felt lonely and were eager to find friends. Some had family members who are Adventists. Dennis and his friends organized meetings in his house, where they shared meals, cultural experiences, and spiritual conversations. Eventually, three individuals were baptized. The group grew and no longer had a place to meet. Someone told them to talk with Barrios to see if the Hispanic-American Church could help them.
After Dennis presented this request, the Hispanic-American Church group at the table started to think of how they could help. Due to the small church space, they offered Dennis a place for his group on Friday nights for their meetings. “The church welcomed the guests with great joy,” said Dennis, and his mission became the mission of the Hispanic-American Church, who collaborated enthusiastically. In turn, the Chinese group endorsed the Su Casa Church project, and now help with fundraising and activities.
The ways of God are higher than human ways, said Isaiah. If the Hispanic-American Church group had become discouraged after speaking with the preliminary donor, the story would have been different. The group felt that God responded to them according to His thoughts, and they accepted the challenge. That donor has now offered to buy a church, so the Hispanic-American Church and the Chinese group can meet as they build the new temple.
The Hispanic-American members have decided they will allocate a hall in the new temple to help new congregations in the process of forming/finding a place to meet!
Southern Union | May 2018