January 5, 2021

Inter-American Publishing Ministries Leader Dies of COVID-19 Complications

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

Ervin González, publishing ministries director for the Inter-American Division (IAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, died on December 31, 2020, after complications due to the novel coronavirus. González passed away after he had been admitted to a hospital in Monterrey, Mexico, earlier in December. He was 59.

“This is most devastating news for us,” Elie Henry, president of IAD. “Last time I spoke to him was just before he went into the hospital on December 18, 2020. We prayed together, and I could hear that he was so strong in his connection with God."

His passion for the publishing work and spreading the good news of the gospel in the printed word was the driving force that led González to push for more books and resources to be readily available to literature evangelists all across the territory, Henry added.

“I met Ervin more than 18 years ago while he was president of Linda Vista Adventist University in Mexico, and since then, he has always remained a man of conviction and passion for young people to grow, especially for students to learn early on how to support themselves as student literature evangelists,” Henry said. “He was instrumental in ensuring that each local church has an active publishing ministries department to involve every member in sharing Adventist literature and resources on topics of heath, marriage, the family, spiritual growth, and more in their place of work and in their communities.”

His passion for the well-being of literature evangelists, whether they were full-time, part-time, or students paying for their schooling, as well as the essential role publishing houses play in advancing the gospel, was at the heart of his mission, Henry explained. “His influence in our church territory was invaluable.”

“We lost a wonderful educator, a promoter of the truth, a committed and dedicated colleague, and a great leader,” Henry said. “Our church in Inter-America will continue to pray for his wife, Lilia, who is battling the coronavirus, and the family he leaves behind.”

Dedicated Church Service

González was born in Mexico and began his service as a church pastor in South Mexico. In his more than 34 years of church service, he served as conference publishing ministries director, conference president, university president, and president of GEMA Editores publishing house in Mexico before becoming publishing ministries director for IAD in 2012.

He completed his bachelor’s degree in theology at Montemorelos University, obtained a master's degree in theology through Andrews University in 1996, and a doctorate in pastoral ministry from the same institution in 2002.

For Tomás Torres, vice president of IAD, the death of González comes as a shock. They met as college students at Montemorelos University and took undergraduate and graduate studies together. “He’s been a friend for so many years, full of wonderful moments shared as students and workers in the church,” Torres said. “I know this loss is only temporal, because it’s now an opportunity to renew our supreme hope to see each other again in heaven.”

Leadership in Chiapas

The passing of González is a blow to Ignacio Navarro, president of the Chiapas Mexican Union church region. “My heart is too sad for such a great loss,” Navarro said. Their friendship went beyond 30 years. “When I started my ministry, he was president of the North Chiapas Conference during a time when the field was going through a financial crisis. His leadership was so important for the growth of the church.” In a short time, the conference became one of the strongest fields in the union. “He was able to motivate, inspire, and mobilize pastors and church leaders in a very impressive way.”

Navarro recalls a long conversation he had with González via Zoom several months before his death, in which he reminded him how González’s leadership had greatly touched his own ministry.

“I know God always decides what is best for His children, and we will soon be able to hug my great friend,” Navarro said. “Chiapas owes a lot to the leadership of this great servant of God.”

Dedicated Leader and Friend

The eight years that Belkis Archbold, health ministries director for IAD, got to work closely with González translated into a relationship of respect and collaboration in countless initiatives and events as departmental colleagues. “He was always willing to go the extra mile in any project,” Archbold said. “I am forever grateful for his assistance and support during the division’s territory-wide health summit of 2013, and more recently, Inter-America’s health summit held in January 2020.”

No one was more passionate about publishing ministries than González, Melchor Ferreyra, personal ministries director for IAD, commented. “He was a great friend, brother, and a person with such extraordinary compassion for humanity. He always helped those in need.” Ferreyra added that it was very evident to see that González was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. “I am sure that I will see him in the morning of the resurrection at the sound of the trumpet, when Christ will come for the second time.”

Ervin González is survived by his wife, Lilia, sons Erwin and Jenner, daughter Lilia, and four grandchildren.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.