Alaska has a couple nicknames that I have come across: "The Salmon State," "The Last Frontier," "The Great Land," but my favorite is "God’s Playground."
Having been here for almost two years, I understand why this state is considered a paradise. Being surrounded by mountains, glaciers, rivers and wildlife is a blessing that constantly serves as a reminder of God’s existence and presence.
Even though nature serves as a great way to feel connected with God, this blessing is better found in the people of Alaska, and especially in God's church.
As the only Hispanic Adventist church in Alaska, the responsibility the Lord has placed upon His church is great. As a church, we are striving to be a place where all Hispanics can feel at home and part of a community. Hispanics are a small portion of Alaska’s population, and we are all spread-out, so remaining connected is challenging at times.
Anchorage Spanish Church, before my arrival, underwent division. Members were left with some trauma and families left the church with a bitter feeling towards Adventism.
Before we could have any plans of growing or do any kind of ministry, the Lord impressed me to focus on healing. How could I as a pastor, go about this? It was a hard task at hand, but I knew that I had to develop genuine friendships with my members. So instead of developing evangelistic visions, my focus shifted to creating bonds.
Fellowship and food are a great way to get people together, and it’s a great time for members to develop friendships. Organizing some outings and events were challenging and tiring, but I could see that they were helping.
My sermons were centered in God’s love, and we were reminded that God was still present and guiding our church. In the time I have been in Alaska, we have made beautiful memories and we are excited to make more.
I believe God is now guiding us into the next step of His plans — reaching the Hispanic community. We are so excited about next year as we have two evangelistic series planned. We want to focus on developing a better children’s ministry and we want to conduct more Bible studies.
God is rekindling our passion for ministry, but sometimes this takes time. Many churches today are eager to grow and do outreach, but it has come to my attention that maybe some churches aren’t at a stage to evangelize.
Our church had to heal so it could be a place where members could feel safe and loved. This required patience and fervent prayer, but God has been faithful. God is starting to bring people to our doors, and we are all excited to introduce them to our loving Father. We can only praise the Lord for helping us this far.