For the first time since the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conversation, laughter, and joyful singing of more than 50 Hispanic leaders and coordinators from across the North American Division (NAD) echoed through the halls of the NAD headquarters. From August 30 to September 1, 2022, the Multilingual Ministries department hosted the Hispanic Annual Council Meeting, where various speakers encouraged, inspired, and reminded pastors of their mission to multiply hope within their communities through the theme Multiplica Esperanza (“Multiply Hope”).
The three-day meeting commenced with the presentation of the evangelistic plan “Multiply Hope.” It also included ministry reports from the nine unions within the NAD and special presentations from Hispanic media ministries such as Esperanza TV (Hope TV), El Centinela (“The Centinel”) magazine, and the La Voz de La Esperanza (“The Voice of Hope”) radio program, among others.
The event culminated with a team-bonding trip to the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. Additionally, inspiring worship thoughts and music were infused throughout the three-day program.
Minervino Labrador Jr., NAD vice president for Multilingual Ministries, welcomed attendees, highlighting, “This is a time to worship, celebrate, and to be reminded of the vision.”
Upon introducing the meeting’s theme, Labrador noted the premise for Multiply Hope by stating, “We are living in a world that lacks and needs hope. God’s will is that we multiply hope.”
As an extension of the NAD’s threefold strategic focus (multiply, media, and mentorship), the Multiply Hope plan is a seven-phased initiative that seeks to guide the work of local Hispanic churches throughout the division by strengthening member retention and promoting effective evangelism within local church communities. Multiply Hope’s seven phases are preparation, sowing, growth, harvest, equip, plant, and revitalize.
“The seven phases are meant to surround and complement the work being done in churches throughout North America,” explained Labrador. “This plan will help church leaders to coordinate and combine church, conference, union, and division ministries to strengthen local mission fields.”
Labrador added, “Our prayer is that every local church refers to the seven phases, reviewing the organization of every activity and program they produce to ensure it is aligned with the overall vision of Multiply Hope.”
Vice presidents (VP) for Multilingual Ministries from the nine unions within the NAD, representing 59 conferences and more than 300,000 Spanish-speaking church members, informed attendees of the evangelistic work and church growth occurring within their respective unions.
Each VP and their Hispanic Ministries conference coordinators summarized events and initiatives that took place within their unions during the past three years. Many celebrated numerous baptisms, small groups, the opening of new congregations, church building projects, children and youth ministries initiatives, community service projects, and more. Speakers also presented their union’s evangelistic goals moving forward.
These reports inspired listeners and provided attendees with new ideas for evangelism. Osvaldo Rigacci, VP of Multicultural Ministries for the Southwestern Union, emphasized, “I love that Multiply Hope is not complicated and can be adapted to the needs of every local context.”
“I enjoyed each of the presentations every union gave,” shared Raúl González, Hispanic Ministries coordinator for the Ontario Conference. “As I listened, I wrote down ideas of what other leaders were doing within their conferences to implement within my conference.”
Miguel Tirado, Hispanic Ministries coordinator for the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, observed, “These reports have allowed us to consider how we can improve and ensure we meet our objective to reach as many Hispanics as possible for Christ’s second coming.”
“We’ve been equipped with strategies and tools to continue moving forward,” said Gerson Sanchez, Hispanic Ministries coordinator for the Gulf States Conference. “By coming together as pastors, coordinators, leaders, and directors, we join in the purpose of ‘Together in Mission.’”
Upon highlighting the positive work occurring within the NAD, the speakers noted the obstacles each union has faced since 2019. A common challenge included the onset of the pandemic and its effects on church ministry. However, despite the difficulties most attendees faced during the transition to digital church, all concurred with Yeury Ferreira, Hispanic Ministries coordinator for the Greater New York Conference, who stated, “We can only say, ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ (“To God be the glory”) for the work that has occurred within the NAD!”
The Hispanic Adventist television channel, Esperanza TV, focuses on providing viewers worldwide with holistic lifestyle Christian media. On Tuesday, August 30, 2022, Axel Orellana, assistant director of Multilingual Ministries for the NAD and manager of Esperanza TV, announced the NAD Multilingual Ministries’ new initiative, Hope Channel Hispano.
Orellana highlighted that Hope Channel Hispano will be a “digital center of influence” for Spanish speakers worldwide. It will contain content produced by Adventist pastors and church members throughout the NAD.
Calling it a “channel to share,” Orellana encouraged Hispanic Adventist pastors and members to share the channel with friends and family who have yet to know Christ. Through digital evangelism, Orellana emphasized the value of “Together In Mission,” asking, “If every Hispanic Adventist shares the channel and its content ten times, how many thousands of people will it reach?”
Pacific Press/El Centinela
The Hispanic Adventist magazine, El Centinela, reported that more than 45,000 copies have been distributed each month so far in 2022. The goal is to increase distribution to 50,000 copies per month by the end of the year.
Along with Pacific Press Publishing Association, El Centinela presented several books. They included the evangelistic book Ser Feliz: Guia Para Una Vida Con Sentido (“Being Happy: A Guide for a Meaningful Life”) by Rubén Bullon, a book for laypeople training titled Permanecer en Cristo (“Remaining in Christ”) by Pastor Yohalmo Saravia, and a book for small groups, Hablemos de Jesus y Su Iglesia (“Let’s Talk About Jesus and His Church”) by El Centinela.
During the report, attendees ordered copies of the books for literature evangelism purposes. With the NAD’s financial support of 20 cents per copy, the orders quickly multiplied to an astounding amount of more than 163,000 copies.
In celebration and dedication, “We placed our hands over the books, praying over them like our pioneers used to do before the distribution of any book,” shared Ricardo Betancur, El Centinela editor. “We asked God to touch the hearts and lives of those who would receive this literature and thanked God for Pacific Press.”
Elvis Díaz, director of Sales and Marketing for El Centinela, said, “Our prayer is that each church member becomes a centinel of hope that can reach out to their families and loved ones to lead as many people as possible to the feet of Jesus.”
La Voz de La Esperanza
Since 1942, the La Voz de La Esperanza radio program has shared hope worldwide. La Voz de La Esperanza has led to more than 1,000 baptisms since 2020. Despite their positive impact, the radio ministry faced financial challenges for several years.
During their report, Pastor Omar Grieve and his wife, Nessy Pittau, director and associate director, respectively, for La Voz de La Esperanza, shared their powerful testimony. “When we first arrived at La Voz de La Esperanza, we learned it had a debt of over $1 million,” shared Grieve. Nevertheless, the couple began to pray, asking God to provide for the debt to be paid.
One day, the prayer was finally answered through the contribution of a faithful listener of the radio program who willed her small home to La Voz de La Esperanza. “The house was appraised at more than $800,000,” explained Pittau.
In like manner, “The Lord led our administration here at the NAD to credit all the interest paid by La Voz de La Esperanza over the years, which added around another $100,000 to the debt,” elaborated Labrador.
“After praying about this debt for over nine years, we’re not only out of debt but also have more funds to continue doing ministry for years to come,” said Pittau. “We praise God for this lady’s generous heart and for her desire to impact the lives of others through the radio.”
Elated, Omar Grieve rejoiced, “La Voz de la Esperanza is debt-free!”
During the meetings, NAD Multilingual Ministries department leaders recognized the contributions of Tony Anobile, VP of Multilingual Ministries for the Southwestern Union and previous NAD Multilingual Ministries VP, for his dedication and commitment to Multilingual Ministries.
Dionisio Olivo, retired VP for Multilingual Ministries at the Atlantic Union, was also recognized for his dedication to Hispanic and Multilingual Ministries for 51 years. Henry Beras—whom Olivo baptized at eight years old—the current VP for Multilingual Ministries at the Atlantic Union, prayed a special blessing for Olivo.
Through the multiple reports, testimonies, and worship experiences, Multiply Hope reinforced the flame of evangelism within the hearts of leaders serving Hispanic communities throughout the NAD. This evangelistic mission does not stop here, however.
Justino Aguilar, Central California Conference Hispanic Ministries coordinator, said, “The intention through these meetings and what we learned here is to inform and equip local church members so that they, too, can be equipped to serve in the mission.”
“We can only spread hope if we go ‘Together in Mission,’” Labrador mentioned. “When we do so, we multiply hope, which is the gospel, discipleship, and evangelism summarized.”