Pathfinder Ministry Is Changing the Face of Hispanic Church in St. Croix

Pathfinder Ministry Is Changing the Face of Hispanic Church in St. Croix

Club activities are prompting dozens of community young people to study the Bible.

Ministries | St. Croix | Marcos Paseggi

The church service looks like any other at the Sunny Acres Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, as a group of Pathfinders in their uniforms is walking to the podium to welcome people, read from Scripture, sing, and pray. At this service on March 30, a youth leader is with them, while dozens of their fellow Pathfinder Club members, regular church members, and guests watch them from the pews.

There is something different about those young Pathfinders, however. It is something you probably couldn’t guess. Not one of the Pathfinders leading from the front is a baptized Adventist church member. Rather, they are part of the sprawling Pathfinder ministry in the community around the church in that Caribbean island.

Despite its English name, the Sunny Acres church has another distinctive feature. In a mostly English-speaking U.S. territory, it is a Spanish-speaking church. Church members are a combination of Puerto Ricans who have lived on the island for up to four generations and more recent arrivals from El Salvador, Venezuela, and other Spanish-speaking nations. Marcos Salas, a Venezuelan himself, has served as the local church pastor for the past two years.

On March 30, the congregation is showing its best face as church leaders behind the upcoming Impact 24 evangelistic initiative visit the church just in time for the official launch of the “Tu Camino a la Felicidad” (“Your Journey to Joy”) series. Among the special guests for this Saturday (Sabbath) are North Caribbean Conference president Desmond James and General Conference associate treasurer Josue Pierre. Luis Soto, from the Dominican Republic but currently serving in the U.S., is the guest speaker at Sunny Acres for the two-week wrap-up campaign. Andrés Santos, also from the Dominican Republic, will lead the ministry of music.

“The [congregation] has been making an impact in the Hispanic community around the church,” local leaders shared. Regular activities include drills, camping, and a drum corps band that attracts not only club members but also their friends, family members, and neighbors.

The local congregation has thrown its full support to the initiative, said Royston Philbert, communication director of the Caribbean Union Conference, which includes St. Croix and a dozen other islands. “The church paid for the Pathfinder uniforms and got the drums for the band,” he said. “Church members have witnessed first-hand the evangelistic impact of the initiative.”

The March 30 Sabbath service devotes considerable time to worship and praise. A series of musical items seems to raise the spirit of the congregation. Singers include local members and invited guests. Among them are José Mancebo and his family, and Marcián Frías. Frías used to attend Sunny Acres regularly, but now he’s the elder in charge of the Campo Rico Group, a Hispanic church plant on the west side of the island. “We have just around 15 baptized members, and some of them are older and find it difficult to even visit this church,” he shares, referencing the fledgling congregation. “But we are an organized group, the second Spanish-speaking congregation on the island.”

The service proceeds, as the group of Pathfinders follow every part attentively. They might understand that the next two weeks of evangelistic meetings have the potential of changing their lives for good.

“Thanks to the Pathfinder Club, now we have dozens of older children and teens studying the Bible, and several are getting ready to be baptized at the end of this series,” local church leaders shared. “And praise be to God, they are bringing their parents along.”

This article was provided by Adventist Review.