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Hispanic Ministries Through 2023

We met with Elder Luis Prieto, Director of Oklahoma Hispanic Ministries, to learn how he and his team have been impacting Oklahoma for the better!



What was the mission of the Hispanic Ministries Department in 2023?

 

In 2023, Hispanic Ministries in Oklahoma focused on evangelism and unity. The beginning of the year was spent planning and organizing an evangelistic caravan in which all Hispanic pastors, along with the Multicultural Union Coordinator, an international evangelist, and a singer participated. It was a 10-day celebration during which these pastors shared and visited various churches. Each night, people eagerly awaited our concerts and the Word of God.

 

The pastoral team visited and attended to the brotherhood. As they moved from city to city, they carried a torch symbolizing the radiant message of God's word in each community.

 

The motivation and enthusiasm of the brothers was contagious, and they successfully reached many people with the message of salvation.

 

The caravan was the biggest evangelistic effort of the year. During the spring and fall, local Hispanic churches conducted several other evangelism campaigns, bringing members together to work for the salvation of many.

 

 



What specific programs or initiatives have you launched in the past year to serve the Hispanic community in the state? 

 

Throughout this year, churches, pastors, and members have actively participated in various activities demonstrating the love of Christ in local communities. In West Siloam Springs, we successfully established a food bank. Every week, between 70 and 80 families receive assistance for their physical and spiritual needs.

 

In Tulsa, churches and members contribute to supporting the Tulsa Community Center through various activities: more than 100 food items were distributed to underprivileged families every week; we provided English classes for immigrants who recently arrived in this country; and we offered music, piano, and violin classes for the youth and children of the community at no cost.

 

We also extended our support to eye clinics, providing optical professional services and free lenses for all participants. They partnered with oriental medicine clinics, benefiting many individuals from the Hispanic community by enhancing their healthcare.


 



How has Hispanic Ministries engaged with local Hispanic communities and organizations to better meet needs in the community?

 

Hispanic Ministries participated in a meeting with Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., held at an exclusive meeting center. During this meeting, the current situation of our country, projects to assist the Hispanic community, laws in the process of approval, and upcoming reforms for Congress were discussed. Additionally, international relations involving the United States were addressed.

 

In local Hispanic churches, we successfully celebrated Hispanic Heritage Day in each community. The event featured typical dresses and clothing from each country, folk music, and foods representing various regions. We extended invitations to many individuals from the community who are being visited and receiving Bible studies.

 

In the Hispanic Oklahoma City church, a mental health project was launched for the community. Numerous families in the city benefited from a series of separate talks tailored for children, youth, and parents. Counseling services were provided, along with refreshments for each participant.

 

The Spanish Capitol Hill church organized a Children's Week focusing on abuse prevention, receiving an enthusiastic response from families and children.

 

 

Can you share a success story?

 

Our Hispanic ministry has made a miraculous impact on many families this year, and among these stories is that of Gustavo, whom we affectionately call "the lost child."

 

Gustavo, a 12-year-old from Guatemala, recently arrived in Oklahoma. During his first week of school, the school bus dropped him off near his house, but he became disoriented and wandered several blocks without finding his way home. Eventually, he arrived at the conference offices. Since he only spoke Spanish, they connected him with Hispanic Ministries We attended to him and began asking questions. Unfortunately, he didn't have his mother's address or telephone number written down. I went to the school to search for information, but it was closed. The Guatemalan Consulate was also closed. Gustavo provided some points of reference about his neighborhood, so we accompanied him until we found his house, where his mother was crying.

 

After the joyous reunion, I assured the mother that her son was not lost but that God had a plan for their lives by guiding him to the conference offices. We talked to her about the great love of God and invited her to church, to which she gladly accepted. On Sabbath, my wife took her to the church closest to her house, and she has been attending ever since. Gustavo is already enrolled in the Pathfinder club, and we are all united in helping them adjust to this foreign country. All for the glory of God.

 

 

What challenges or obstacles has Hispanic Ministries faced in achieving its goals?

 

The most significant challenges are economic, as every community service project must be accompanied by a budget, which we almost never have. Even if the best ideas are presented, we often cannot attain those objectives because the costs exceed our expectations.

 

 



What are some new projects on the horizon that will further your ability to serve the community?

 

We want to create a community center in Oklahoma City to address various needs and aspects for many people.

 

We are sponsoring the building of cabin five at Wewoka Woods Adventist Center. This will be a blessing for numerous children and families attending summer camps and camp meeting where they will receive training and engage in various activities.



For our math people, share your numbers!

 

So far this year, we have witnessed more than 100 baptisms, and approximately 20 percent of the members are actively involved in providing an average of 300 weekly Bible studies. While we haven't established new churches this year, our focus has been on fortifying existing churches and groups, with plans to initiate new ones in 2024.

 

Furthermore, we are delighted to announce that we had the privilege of paying off the mortgage on two of our churches this year, one in Tulsa and another in Oklahoma City. Our Hispanic camp has experienced significant growth over the years, reaching more than 1,300 people with specialized programming for adults, youth, and children.

 

 

Fun facts about you: 🙂

 

The atmosphere among colleagues at the Conference is excellent, but one thing that makes it truly special is that my wife serves as my assistant in Hispanic Ministries. Adding joy to our day, there are playful moments when she comes looking for me at the office and, unable to locate me, playfully rearranges my chair, crosses it to block easy access, hides the computer, and engages in other lighthearted pranks. In turn, if I can't find her in the office, I sometimes playfully close the doors (her office has two entrance doors), turn off the lights, or leave notes teasing her. Many times, these amusing incidents occur because she searches for me in one hallway while I enter through another.

 

 

Anything else you'd like us to know?

 

When I look to the past I praise the Lord and say, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12)

 

May the honor and glory be for Him as we perform our Hispanic work in Oklahoma. We will continue doing it as before, with joy, with enthusiasm, and with dedication.


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