Acts Comes Alive
Over 6,400 phone calls. Tens of thousands of dollars. A total of 350 small groups. More than 300 intercessors praying around the clock. Hundreds of vehicles forming a prayer caravan around the city.
Pastors Guillermo and Dinora Jimenez see these and many other ways the congregation of Águilas Centro Familiar Christiano (Eagles Christian Family Fellowship) is living out the Book of Acts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The church experienced explosive revival after Guillermo and Dinora stepped in as lead pastors in 2002.
“I knew the Lord wanted to do something in Vegas,” says Jimenez, 52. “This is not the world’s capital for sin. There must be something else. We prayed and cried for a move of God, and that the Holy Spirit would do miracles. And we got to see them.”
In 2012, Águilas opened a new building through a set of incredible circumstances. With an average weekly attendance of 3,000, Jimenez says the congregation’s casas de paz, or houses of peace, operate as small groups within the larger congregation.
In January, Jimenez began a new sermon series on the Book of Acts. In February, the COVID-19 pandemic struck Las Vegas. The teachings had prepared congregants for the days ahead.
“They shared the Word, holy Communion, and prayers, and cared for each other,” Jimenez says. “We’ve seen the goodness of God and an explosion of compassion and generosity toward each other.”
Jimenez says when the church offices closed, the staff pulled up the database of over 6,400 names and began calling each number. First the pastors, then the elders and leaders of the houses of peace, and even the children in Eagle Kids ministry began phoning people to see how they could help.
“Tens of thousands of dollars have gone for food or help for rent or energy,” he says. “Everyone is caring for each other. Someone prayed for someone in the hospital, someone baked a cake and knocked at the door. We’ve seen miraculous healings.”
One house of peace group collected over $3,000 and prayed about where to donate the funds.
“They choose six families in different amounts,” Jimenez says. “They blessed them in different ways, according to their needs. They didn’t have to come to me as senior pastor or any of the other pastors. That story has been repeated many times.”
Erika Sanchez, Águilas youth pastor, says many of the calls have come at just the right time for people, including a grandmother unable to buy milk for her grandchildren and a girl contemplating suicide. Congregants have been able to minister to the elderly and the forgotten.
“It happened organically, it doesn’t come from just the pastors,” Sanchez says. “People just started taking care of each other. People took food baskets to doors of people they didn’t even know.” She says she heard multiple testimonies of adherents transferring money to bank accounts of someone God put on their heart.
Sanchez says one way the church reached out to the community involved a prayer caravan. Over 300 vehicles traveled from the church around the city to pray over livestream on social media and through hashtags.
Jimenez says he doesn’t believe Águilas studying the Book of Acts this year is a coincidence. He thinks God is using this coronavirus season to prepare for a great revival.
“A greater glory is going to manifest in His Church and in the world,” he says. “We are seeing the miracles without laying hands on people. We can’t. We aren’t close to them. But I have pictures on my phone, written testimonies, because His presence is reaching the lost and healing the sick.”
Jimenez says he is thrilled to see churchgoers taking the initiative to care for each other on their own.
“I tell people if you can pray, read the Bible, hear God, serve, and are generous — if you can do those things without the need of a pastor — you are maturing,” Jimenez says.