July 15, 2020

From Video Viewers to New Church Members

Joel Guerra, Lake Union Herald

Like many other churches in the North American Division (NAD), Lighthouse Hispanic Adventist Church in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois, United States, has not met in person since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that has not stopped members from bringing people to the Word of God.

Since the church began its virtual programs, it has reached several people who had never before attended Lighthouse church and, as of June 6, baptized five of them.

Lighthouse’s lead pastor, Gilberto Bahena, said that seeing five new members come to Christ solely through virtual meetings has been amazing and showed him how much of a ministry virtual and online worship programming can be.

“God uses different methods to reach people. In my opinion, the enemy tried to close our church down and halt our evangelism. However, God has His methods and is using technology to reach people,” Bahena said.

According to Bahena, what has made the church’s outreach so successful is that they host both a Bible study and worship program via video conference every day. Having multiple programs daily has made it easy for current church members to invite others who may be looking to hear more about Christ and the church.

“A lot of people in the world are looking for some hope right now. A link makes it a lot easier to provide that to others,” Bahena said.

The accessibility proved to be a blessing for Mayra Guardado, one of the newly baptized members at Lighthouse Hispanic. Guardado said that she had never attended a Christian church before but joined Lighthouse’s online gatherings after a friend invited her. Guardado credits the church’s special emphasis on Bible study and the messages she heard as the main reasons she decided to take this step into a new life.

“I have changed. I feel good. I used to get frustrated easily,” Guardado said about her changed life. “I feel a lot calmer and at peace.”

Like Guardado, Dionisia García is another newly baptized member who joined the church through virtual meetings. García said that the pandemic left her without a church, as the Christian church she had been attending did not offer online services. Fortunately for García, a church member heard about her situation and invited her to study the Bible with Lighthouse church.

“I feel like the Holy Spirit guided me to join,” García said. “When God wants to use you, He will knock on your door.”

García said that God has shown Himself to her through several miracles in the past few months, and it became clear that it was time to give her life to God.

“God has not failed me, so I could not fail Him anymore,” García said. “I feel joyous that God has defeated the enemy.”

Lighthouse church opened on July 4 with a limited capacity of 50 people. García said she was eager for the church to reopen so she could meet the church members in person and get involved in the church ministry wherever God places her. She said, however, that she feels the virtual meetings have been a blessing to many and hopes that they do not end soon.

“Many people are joining the church. They are being taught how to read the Word of God,” García said. “Anything can be a ministry when you have enough faith.”

Bahena relayed a sentiment similar to García’s and said that even if the church building opens, he does not plan to end the daily online meetings anytime soon.

“I see something very positive here. Even though it is new to us, and we did not know how to do it, we are learning, and the church’s response has been positive. This is a huge blessing,” he said.

The original version of this story was posted by the Lake Union Herald.