Newcomers to America aren’t always candidates to receive salvation through Jesus Christ. Sometimes they come to spread the gospel in their new homeland.
That is the case with Nahum Salvador, who is leaving an established church in Honduras to become pastor of Primera Iglesia Cuadrangular Hispana de Bluffton (Bluffton Hispanic Foursquare Church) in Ridgeland, S.C., just north of Hilton Head Island. Although there is no definite date for Nahum’s arrival, Luis Ramirez—district liaison for Hispanic ministries in the Southeast district—hopes his paperwork will be approved within the next six months.
“This is the first time we are bringing a Hispanic pastor with a religious visa to serve as a pastor in this district,” Luis, senior pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Remanso De Paz (Warner Robins Hispanic Foursquare Church) in Warner Robins, Ga., tells Foursquare.org. “The National Foursquare Honduran Council is providing all the financing to make this possible. There are salary requirements that immigration laws require for a local church to support a pastor on a visa.”
Luis is currently acting as the congregation’s spiritual advisor, securing different speakers and Bible teachers until the full-time pastor arrives. The 25-member group currently meets at Bluffton Assembly of God.
The pastor of a congregation of 1,200, Nahum Salvador is also vice president of Honduras’ national council. His wife and their four children, ages 10 to 21, will come with him. Their experience in music ministry and Bible studies will be a major asset to the church, Luis says.
Luis met Nahum in April, when he traveled south to observe the annual convention of the National Cuadrangulares (Spanish for Foursquare) Churches and to confer with Honduran leaders. He came away impressed with Nahum’s credentials. As part of leading his large church, Pastor Nahum oversees 165 home Bible study groups that meet weekly.
The church also operates a Bible institute. Once a student graduates, he isn’t considered to have a church until there are at least 150 members. Most of the pastors Luis met in Honduras lead churches of several hundred or more.
“I was very impressed by the extraordinary level of knowledge and maturity they demonstrate,” Luis explains. “They’re very well organized, as far as administering the church.”
Another reason he is excited about the Honduran pastor coming to the U.S. is the spiritual fire he observed among Christians in the Central American nation. Among those who inspired him was a 17-year-old youth named Ronald. Although he didn’t have lunch money and wore the same clothes throughout the four-day convention, Ronald exhibited a zeal for God.
Luis could also sense the Lord’s presence in the people’s smiles, passion, generosity, hospitality and kindness. During the opening session, the Spirit’s anointing fell during the preaching, and hundreds responded to the altar call. This happened repeatedly, leading Luis to believe that Nahum’s arrival will mark the beginning of Hondurans helping to cover the U.S. with the gospel.
The pastor says he experienced in one weekend the revival Honduran churches have enjoyed for years. He also learned that there is no formula for revival—no magic words, no books and no special prayers.
“In order to see this in the United States, we need to stop waiting for revival and instead be revival!” Luis asserts. “We need to be as willing and open to it as the beautiful people in Honduras are.”
Listening to Others
This receptivity to spiritual insights from new arrivals to America is one way that Restoration (Huntsville Foursquare Church) in Madison, Ala., pastored by Huey Hudson, has become a leading denominational example of a multicultural congregation.
In addition to a healthy ethnic mix in Sunday worship, there is a Spanish-language service in the fellowship hall. Whites and African-Americans are represented in the main service alongside more than 20 nationalities, with people from such countries as the Virgin Islands, Barbados, India and the Philippines.
Not only are immigrants part of the church council, but also Pastor Huey likes to utilize their spiritual gifts. For example, he says Barbados native Jennifer Searles writes beautiful, biblically based poetry that she often reads during worship services, while Susan Simon of India has a prophetic gift.
“I’ve learned to listen to their viewpoints,” Pastor Huey says of the pragmatic suggestions that come from those of other cultures. “They have wisdom and insight.”
Learning From Others
Ted Vail, pastor of Hope Boulder (Boulder Flatirons Foursquare Church) in Colorado and associate director for Foursquare Missions International—U.S. Missions, says Americans need immigrants as much as they need us. Although we in the U.S. have much to offer visitors, those coming to our shores bring something valuable too, he asserts.
Many possess a very deep relationship and understanding of Jesus. That includes people who come from nations where following Christ brings physical, economic and emotional persecution.
“Their faith is not seasonal or flimsy, but deeply rooted and passionate,” Ted affirms. “Pastor Alex Prokopchik is an excellent example. Alex was raised in a pastor’s home where KGB raids occurred and all the Bibles had to be hidden.”
After Alex came to the U.S., he began pastoring the Russian congregation at Angelus Temple under Dr. Harold Helms. The church has since moved to North Hollywood, where Alex pastors the English congregation at L.A. International Christian Center (North Hollywood Foursquare Church). Their facility also hosts Japanese, Armenian and Hispanic congregations.
“Pastor Alex has a very devoted and contagious, confidant spirituality,” Ted says. “Obviously, his settling in America has been a blessing to the Foursquare family and those outside the church.”
You are reading Part 3 of a four-part series.
Read Part 1: “The Church and Immigration”
Read Part 2: “Cultural Differences”
Read Part 4: “Practical Ministry”