No Retirement Plans
Longtime Assemblies of God minister and septuagenarian Flora Vergara should be retired, but she's more interested in being re-fired for God. An AG U.S. Missionary since 1981 with Missionary Church Planters and Developers, Vergara has planted a dozen Spanish-speaking churches in Oregon with assistance from the AG’s Church Multiplication Network.
“As long as the Lord gives me strength, I will continue to plant churches and tell people about His love for them,” says Vergara, 77. She currently is pastoring churches in Roseburg and Sutherlin that have gone through periods with no leadership.
The area has been economically depressed, and Vergara is helping to open a center for residents in need of food, clothing, and spiritual guidance.
Being a woman who plants churches in a state known for its low church attendance makes Vergara a trailblazer, according to Raul Sanchez Jr., assistant superintendent of the AG’s Northern Pacific Latin American District.
“Flora Vergara has passionately pursued the call of God to plant churches in Oregon for four decades,” Sanchez says. “She has succeeded in spite of incredible odds. She not only raised her own children as a single mom, but has helped countless families find hope and salvation in Christ in the midst of their helpless and difficult circumstances.”
Sanchez says Vergara is humble and caring, yet she serves God with an iron will.
“Compassion for people of all walks of life has given her favor in reaching and leading countless people to the Lord,” Sanchez says. “She has mentored men and women who have gone on to serve in ministry in various churches.”
Vergara sees church planting as investing in individual lives rather than buildings.
“Many times I just listen and let people know that I care and that Jesus cares and He loves them so very much,” Vergara says. “I encourage them to go out and do the same. God will reward us for our faithfulness.”
Vergara didn’t have the ideal background to be a church planter. Soon after her conversion to Christianity in 1962, Vergara's husband left the family, and she raised six children alone.
Despite the daunting outlook, she pressed through, believing in the power of God to overcome the discouragement and thoughts of failure. Vergara received a degree in theology from the Latin American Bible Institute in 1978, and she became an AG U.S. Missionary three years later.
“I enjoy helping people see their beautiful potential in Jesus,” says Vergara, who notes that all of her children are in ministry. “The most challenging part is the attack of the enemy. He comes in many different ways to cause discouragement.”
Vergara also has served in prison ministry at area correctional facilities. In addition to her work with inmates, she established a home for Hispanic women and their children. Due to her years of work in prison ministry, former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber named Vergara an honorary chaplain to the Spanish-speaking prisoners in the state.
“Many people I have worked with in jail ministry have contacted me over the years to let me know they are still serving the Lord,” Vergara says.
But her true passion is planting churches.
“God always prepares a miraculous way to begin each new plant through divine appointments with people within the communities,” Vergara says. “I speak to everyone who comes into my path.”