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Go Northwest, Young Woman

Obedience to prophetic guidance leads to multiple church plants.

In 1997, after the Lord sent two prophetic words to Susana Palacios, a Salvadoran immigrant who served as president of her Los Angeles Hispanic church’s youth group, the Holy Spirit impressed upon her to travel to Portland, Oregon. She and another lady in her church’s women’s ministry bought bus tickets, trusting that the Lord would reveal the next steps.

Pedro Renderos, a former congregant at the Los Angeles church who had moved to Portland, met her at the bus station. As in 1906, when the Holy Spirit led Pentecostal founding father William Seymour to an apartment where women prayed for revival, Renderos served as the bridge, connecting Susana to his brother’s sister-in-law, Maria Barrera. Barrera’s family had been waiting for a word from the Lord regarding finding a church home.

Soon, the church’s youth treasurer, Ramón A. Aguilera, a Honduran, also arrived in Portland with several from the Los Angeles congregation. He held a prayer vigil asking the Lord for blessing and support.

“We were the answer to their prayers, willing to open their home to be a house church,” says Ramón, then the Los Angeles youth group’s treasurer. “My (future) wife was like John the Baptist, preparing the way.”

Yet there is a modern distinction compared to the prophet of old.

“She came here in a Greyhound bus,” says Ramón, 43.

Some from Los Angeles remained with the Aguileras, who wed in 1999. They co-pastor Iglesia Roca De Luz Eterna (Rock of Eternal Light Church), which they planted in the Barreras’ small apartment in Hillsboro, Oregon, a suburb of Portland.

Initially, Latinos from Mexico constituted nearly the entire church. As the immigrant community has grown, the numbers of Central Americans in the Spanish-speaking congregation have risen. Attendees include workers in the construction, agricultural, and hospitality industries. Many own their own businesses, such as operating food trucks.

Over the past two decades, Roca De Luz Eterna has itself needed increasingly larger spaces. The congregation rented an 1,100-square-foot house and in 2000 moved to a new facility. Two years ago, the Aguileras assumed the pastorate of Roca de Salvación (Rock of Salvation) in Portland, which now has its own pastors. Roca De Luz Eterna also planted two other Portland-area congregations, one district affiliated and the other parent affiliated. Additionally, the church has launched Roca Bible School in Nejapa City, El Salvador.

“They came, trusted God, landed in Hillsboro, and God has been with them,” says Larry Garza, superintendent of the AG Northwest Hispanic District. Garza says when the Aguileras assumed leadership of the dying Roca de Salvación Church that lacked a pastor, they used spiritual DNA from Roca De Luz Eterna to replant the congregation and it began growing.

“The Aguileras are great people who are great church planters looking toward doing other things for the Lord in the future,” Garza says. “They believed God and got up and left. God has been with them. They’ve reached hundreds with the gospel.”

Attendance now averages 275 at the Hillsboro church. Roca De Luz Eterna bought property in March, while Roca de Salvación is seeking to purchase land or a facility.

IMAGE - Skyline of Portland.

Photo by Jami Dwyer at en.wikipedia - Original source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74281168@N00/293494119/Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by sevela.p., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3777507

Deann Alford

Deann Alford is a journalist and author. She attends Glad Tidings of Austin, an Assemblies of God congregation in the Texas capital.