At the 2023 Hispanic Advisory Meeting of the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, participants’ joy and sense of community were palpable. In late August, the NAD headquarters in Columbia, Maryland, United States, came alive with dynamic singing, devotionals, prayer sessions, ministry reports, and presentations from Spanish media ministries Esperanza TV and El Centinela. The event concluded with a day trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as a team-building activity.
The annual gathering aimed to unite more than 100 Hispanic coordinators and leaders from across the NAD, affirm them as they shared regional ministry efforts, and help them strategize new ways to reach their Hispanic communities.
The advisory’s theme was “Multiply Hope,” emphasizing evangelism and outreach. Multiply Hope is a seven-phase program focusing on every stage of a person’s discipleship journey, including preparation, sowing, growth, harvesting, equipping, planting, and revitalizing.
In his opening devotional, Minervino Labrador Jr., the event organizer and NAD vice president for multilingual ministries, encouraged participants to strengthen their connection with God. Labrador distinguished between rhema, a spoken message from God, and logos, the Bible — noting that both are necessary for the Christian walk. He asserted, “When we come to the Lord, reading the book is one thing. It’s quite another to sit personally with the book’s Author.”
Later, Ricardo Betancur, El Centinela editor, shared insights from his book The Word Became Flesh, which focuses on seven revelations about incarnation and the promise of John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (NIV). Jesus is the light enabling us to transcend life’s challenges as we traverse an upward path to heaven. Bentancur concluded that to receive Christ’s presence in our lives, we must clean “the basement of our house,” the darkness within, and worship God in spirit and truth.
Bentancur spoke with an unmistakable passion, later reflecting, “I felt the Holy Spirit in a special way in this advisory because God is calling us. He’s calling right now because Jesus is coming soon.”
Each day, vice presidents for multilingual or Hispanic ministries at union conferences and conference Hispanic ministries coordinators shared ministry initiatives, tithe gains, and church growth among the Hispanic congregations within the NAD’s nine unions. They represented the roughly 260,000 Hispanic church members who form nearly a quarter of the NAD’s total membership.
Several presenters focused on activities for children, teens, and young adults, such as camping trips, soccer games, and retreats. “[The churches] love the energy of the youth,” Labrador said. Osvaldo Rigacci, Southwestern Union Conference’s vice president for multicultural ministries, highlighted his union’s work to reach the growing population of second- and third-generation Adventists in Hispanic churches. One such initiative is implementing the intergenerational Growing Together program, which empowers young leaders while helping older members be more receptive to their youthful ideas and leadership.
Other featured initiatives included camp meeting, women’s and men’s ministry events, community outreach, small groups, and lay training. Among the reported gains during the past year, several conferences reported more than 1,000 baptisms, many doubled the number of congregations, and tithe reports reflected a significant increase in contributions.
Participants heard reports from conferences and unions of all sizes, from the Texas Conference, where nearly 50 percent of the membership is Hispanic, to the Alaska Conference, whose first Hispanic pastor is leading a small but growing Hispanic congregation. “It’s very encouraging that even those with a smaller membership are working hard, and God is doing amazing things in those territories,” Raul Gonzalez, Ontario Conference’s associate ministerial secretary, said.
For many, these reports sparked new ministry ideas. For example, Henry Beras, Atlantic Union Conference’s vice president for Hispanic and Portuguese ministries, said, “I will put more attention to supporting immigrants to find jobs or learn English as a second language, [among other assistance].”
Alberto Ingleton, the Pacific Union Conference’s vice president for Hispanic ministries, concluded, “These presentations show that the Spirit of God is alive in our regions!”
Dale Galusha, president of Pacific Press, shared materials designed for Hispanic outreach, including a missionary book and small group lay-training materials. He shared the history of Pacific Press and its continuation of James White’s mission of creating “pulpits” through literature. “Paper plus ink equals a book or magazine. But paper plus ink plus the Holy Spirit equals a changed life. Let’s work together to change hearts and lives,” he said. Notably, Pacific Press will play an even bigger role in next year’s NAD Hispanic advisory, as the meeting will be held there in celebration of the publishing house’s 150-year anniversary.
The advisory also highlighted NAD departments as ministry partners in a segment called “Ministries at Your Service.” Hispanic leaders throughout the NAD headquarters presented initiatives such as a Hispanic leadership summit, the Alive in Christ Children’s Sabbath School program, and a mentorship guide.
An extended session was dedicated to Esperanza TV, the NAD’s Spanish-language Hope Channel, whose team had blessed attendees through uplifting music. The team shared plans to expand the channel’s content, typically curated from South and Central America, to incorporate more local programming. Then, they challenged each union to brainstorm ideas for programs and TV personalities, noting that Esperanza TV will select one program from one union each year and help them produce it. They aim for their newly relaunched website to become a “Spanish Adventist Netflix.”
Labrador said of the volunteers who have come from other divisions to help create North America–specific media, “These young professionals are bringing all their talent to raise up Esperanza TV for the Hispanic communities in North America. They’re out-of-this-world amazing — their soul, commitment, and professionalism.”
Silvia Patricia Medina, Esperanza TV’s general producer from Venezuela, expressed the team’s excitement to collaborate with unions. “There’s so much talent and creativity in our members and churches, and we want to equip conferences to [produce programs] because it’s a good opportunity to present our church and what we can do.”
Omar and Nessy Grieve, speaker/director and associate speaker/director, respectively, of La Voz de la Esperanza, the Spanish-language Voice of Prophecy ministry, also presented on the critical role of media ministry in the Hispanic work. They brought Hispanic leaders an exciting report on the meetings and soul-winning they are witnessing across the NAD.
Finally, attendees learned of a digital evangelism initiative initiated by the NAD multilingual ministries and spearheaded by Roger Hernandez, Southern Union Conference ministerial and evangelism director, which intended to prepare 1,000 Hispanic lay members to preach and share the same sermon at the same time on September 16 via their social media accounts. This initiative aligned with the NAD’s 10,000 digital evangelists’ initiative. Remarkably, 1,336 people registered to participate. On the significance of online ministry, Hernandez stated, “The first principle of evangelism is to go where the people are. And where are the people? Online.”
On Wednesday, Hispanic leaders left spiritually fed and empowered. “This is the best Hispanic advisory I’ve been to,” Hernandez said. “Sometimes everybody is working in silos, but when we come together, we think, what’s happening in Texas [that] we can use? What is going on in Canada? The collaboration is great.”
The advisory’s focus on worship was another takeaway for attendees. “Pastors also need to be fed,” Reynaldo Ojedo, Southeastern Conference Hispanic Ministry director, said. His wife, Doris, added, “We go back to our conference full of the Spirit of God.”
Finally, Labrador observed the group’s camaraderie and passion for their work. “We enjoy sharing, praying, and working together so much, that if we’re not careful, we could forget our program and run out of time. God’s presence among our NAD Hispanic leaders makes the difference.”