10 Sep Two Congregations, One Team
HEART LANGUAGE /
IDIOMA DEL CORAZÓN
Many of us have the opportunity to come to church on a weekly basis and worship in our native tongue, English. We are able to worship in our “heart language,” the language that we were spoken to as a child, the language that we pray in, and the language that connects with our soul. But there was a growing Hispanic community around Houston, Pennsylvania, who did not have a place of worship, simply because they were not English-speaking.
Four years ago that changed when Pastor Francisco Teodoro and the leadership of Central Assembly of God teamed up to answer God’s call to minister to the Hispanic community in the Houston area, located outside of Pittsburgh. With a joined mission, Central Assembly of God launched a Parent-Affiliated Church, Iglesia Cristiana Central, that specifically ministered to the Spanish-speaking community.
THE MINISTRY /
Central AG provides the resources, the building space and support system for Pastor Francisco and Pastor Kurt Jenkins to partner together so the ministry can thrive! Pastor Francisco leads Spanish-speaking worship services on Sunday mornings at “The Rock,” which is the student center. Throughout the week, he also leads a Bible study in a mobile home community, discipleship classes, a weekly prayer service, as well as an alternate Friday service for those who cannot attend on Sunday mornings.
When Pastor Francisco began this ministry, he didn’t wait for the Hispanic community to find the church. He sought them out and formed relationships by visiting the mobile home community and apartment buildings which were largely populated by Hispanics. He posted road signs and banners. He visited local Mexican restaurants and met the owners and workers, offering to pray with them. He went to Walmart and formed relationships with the Hispanic employees. Pastor Francisco simply started making friends for Jesus in the community, and he showed them his “authentic invitation” in his words. He shared, “My purpose, the God-purpose in my life, is that God created me for this time to preach the Gospel. My blessing is changing lives.”
Central AG’s Hispanic ministry extends beyond the walls of their community, and people travel from all over the region to join his congregation. Pastor Francisco leads a weekly online prayer meeting, which is broadcast to Mexico, and usually has about 100 people tuned in for prayer. He also mentors 6 pastors from different parts of the world via skype, pastors from Cuba, Mexico, and his home country, El Salvador.
AN ISLAND FOREVER CHANGED /
UNA ISLA PARA
Long before coming on staff at Central AG, Pastor Francisco ministered from a distance to his home country of El Salvador. He would preach on the radio to a little island called Isla Tasajera with only 1,500 occupants. The island had only dirt and sand roads and three vehicles, but they had a great love for Pastor Francisco and his ministry, so much so that they started inviting him to visit them and preach the Gospel, and even honored him by giving him a piece of property.
When Pastor Francisco came to Central AG, the church adopted the island as a focused project, under the direction of Missions‘ Pastor Vicki Barton, and continued to invest by raising $50,000 to build concrete fish tanks for tilapia harvesting on the property that was originally donated to Pastor Francisco. Through this investment, they are teaching those on the island how to fish and become entrepreneurs! Central AG has also entered a spiritual covenant with the main church on the island, and it was renamed, “Central AG of Isla Tasajera.”
Already this year, Central has made numerous trips to the island to teach spiritual leadership, kingdom lifestyle, business and finances. They also hired an El Salvadorian professional who is training a few church members on a weekly basis about how to care for the fish and tanks.
It is amazing to see how God has used this ministry model to reach the unreached and unite the Spanish- and English-speaking congregations of Central AG! Pastor Kurt emphasized that that they operate as, “two congregations, but one church family,” and this model works because “the leadership of the church really embraced it.”
Missions is not just overseas; sometimes it’s reaching out to the immigrants, the undocumented, the non-English speakers in our communities and creating a space for people to grow in their faith and in their heart language, whether that is Korean, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic or Vietnamese. Although launching a ministry in a second language and dealing with language barriers and cultural differences is not always an easy feat, because of this Hispanic ministry, now a church in western Pennsylvania has had a profound impact on a tiny island in El Salvador! Now that is a picture of God’s mission for the world.