As the new year begins, I want to take a moment and share how grateful I am for our Latino brothers and sisters within EFCA’s North Central District. I am tempted to explain in detail why the Latino community is so close to my heart (beginning with my childhood in the Southwest, sharing about my former church’s beautiful Latino congregation called Grace Hispana, pressing into the reality that Latinos are the largest ethnic minority in the USA). But since I have limited space, so let me dive right in and share six reasons I am so grateful for their presence and impact in our NCD family of churches.
1. I’m grateful that our NCD family is blessed with gifted Latino church leaders like Pablo Cachon (New Hope Church), Tim Dahlin and Miriam Vallette (Bethel EFC, Fairmont), Hector Franco (Morris EFC), Jorge Osorio (Hope EFC, Monticello), Ismael Martinez (Cornerstone EFC, Blue Earth), Vidal Quevedo (Iglesia Nueva Salem, Minneapolis), José Rivera (Living Hope, Willmar), and Paul Stilwell (Trinity Church, Lakeville). God has truly blessed us in calling these leaders, and many more just like them, to pour their lives into our EFCA churches in Minnesota.
2. I’m grateful for the first ordination council for a Latino pastor in the NCD, held for Pastor Pablo Cachon at New Hope Church in November 2017. It was such a joy to watch the council examine and affirm Pablo’s calling, gifting, preparation, and character. I am praying this is the first of many ordination councils for our NCD Latino pastors.
3. I’m grateful for Latino congregations in places like Blue Earth, Fairmont, Morris and Monticello. Right now, there are Latino EFCA congregations in nine communities in Minnesota. May God give us more!
4. I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet each quarter with our Latino leaders. Our first meeting was at Camp Shamineau, during a weekend that saw more than 300 Latinos at camp. The second was at our NCD office, where we dreamed and prayed together about how God might allow us to reach more and more Latinos in Minnesota. It is a joy to serve these leaders, and I always walk away feeling I received so much more than I gave.
5. I’m grateful for church leaders like Scott and Jane Barber (Grace Community Church, Worthington), who drove me around their town and shared their deep desire that their church reach out to the Latino community there with the gospel.
6. I often share about our Latino congregations as I travel around our district. I’m grateful that, in response to what I share, there has been a genuine desire to welcome our Latino brothers and sister to an equal place of fellowship at our NCD table. Much more progress needs to be made, but we are moving in the right direction.
As I hope you see, I believe we are blessed by our Latino congregations and church leaders. In the coming years, I hope and pray that this beautiful part of our NCD family will grow. For the glory of God among all people in Minnesota, will you join me in praying and working toward that end?