Transitioning to the Next Generation
HOUSTON — Hispanic leaders Nino González and Danny de León Sr. talked about the importance of effectively imparting the faith to a new generation in morning sermons Aug. 2 at the Hispanic Centennial celebration in Houston.
González, superintendent of the Florida Multicultural District, said Hispanic churches are in an important transition of conferring wisdom on younger leaders.
“We have something to transmit to the next generation,” said González, a former member of the AG Executive Presbytery. “We’re saying, now it’s your turn to run the race that we ran.”
The two generations are like sprinters in a track relay race, González said, and both need to ensure that the baton is passed carefully. One of the risks of dropping the baton is that an entire generation could slip into idolatry, warned González, who is senior pastor of Calvario City Church in Orlando, Florida.
Young people aren’t most interested in new worship songs, church programs, or high-tech gizmos, according to González.
“They want to see God’s power manifested,” González said, who preached primarily in Spanish, using a translator. “Gifts of the Spirit are no respecter of age.”
De León preached on a similar theme, speaking about passing the mantle to the next generation. He cited biblical examples, from the prophet Elisha picking up the cloak of Elijah to Jesus imparting the Holy Spirit to His disciples.
Hispanic Pentecostals have come a long way since the early days of being viewed by much of society as ignorant, crazed, low-income nobodies, said De León, who is senior pastor of Templo Calvario in Santa Ana, California. He compared Hispanics to weeds, growing everywhere to encircle the globe with the gospel. Templo Calvario has established 99 satellite congregations in the U.S. and Latin America.
Perhaps Pentecostal Hispanics could lead a much-needed revival across the U.S., said de León, an executive presbyter.
In a symbolic demonstration, de León and other Hispanic district officials placed shawls on the shoulders of younger Hispanic ministers and missionaries, and prayed over those who knelt.
At a missions luncheon in the afternoon, two members of the six-member Executive Leadership Team based in Springfield, Missouri, spoke to a crowd of 700.
Malcolm P. Burleigh, executive director of U.S. Missions, urged churches to encourage young people to consider becoming missionaries.
“This is the time for Hispanics,” declared Burleigh. “The door is wide open.”
Greg Mundis, executive director of Assemblies of God World Missions, noted that in 1914 AG pioneers resolved that the Fellowship would be the greatest evangelism tool the world had ever seen. God has blessed their faith. Today, AGWM ministers in 256 countries, territories, and provinces with missionaries serving in over 190 visa-giving countries. Globally, the AG network numbers over 69 million adherents and more than 370,000 churches.
“Our reach and our partnerships are unprecedented,” Mundis said.
In its 100-year history, Hispanic districts have sent 89 AG missionaries around the world. More than half of those — 47 — are currently on the field.
In just the past four years the 14 Hispanic districts have commissioned 27 new missionaries through AGWM, with 19 of those going to unreached people groups.
“The mindset of the past is that it was too expensive to send missionaries through AGWM and Hispanic missionaries should go to only to Spanish-speaking countries,” Mundis said. “All 27 missionaries from 2014 until today have raised their budget in the allotted time or faster and the Holy Spirit has called them to the difficult harvest fields of the world.”
Giving by Hispanic districts to AGWM exceeded $4.2 million last year, jumping from $2.5 million in 2012. Giving through the South Central Hispanic District based in Springdale, Arkansas, totaled $1,161,250 to AGWM last year. The current uptick in Hispanic world missions bodes well for the future, Mundis believes.
“We rejoice in their obedience to God’s call and our combined stewardship of their call,” Mundis declared.
Nevertheless, Mundis said the task remains daunting. More than 3 billion are unreached with the gospel.
“Isn’t this 100-year celebration our opportunity together with God to raise up an army of Hispanic workers to reach into the vast, untouched, and unreached harvest fields of the world?” Mundis asked. “Will you pray that your children, your parents, your pastors and workers in the church will hear the call of God to be sent into the harvest fields of the world?”
Mundis thinks the century mark of the founding of the Hispanic AG can be a springboard for further evangelistic efforts in obedience to the Great Commission.
“In God’s divine plan, we are in this season of history to be the generation that bridges our differences, celebrates our commonalities, leverages our passion for Christ and His Kingdom advancement, and together depends on the Holy Spirit to call, enable and empower a new generation to reach the world with the gospel,” Mundis asserted. “We are better together!”