Northwest Hispanic Pioneer
Hill Alvarado became an early leader in northern Washington.The Assemblies of God Northwest Hispanic District is thankful that 84-year-old Hill Alvarado fulfilled his call to ministry. Three decades ago, Alvarado arrived in Lynden, Washington, a community only five miles from the Canadian border, because he heard the previous pastor had left. With only $85 and his wife and five children in tow, Alvarado decided to rebuild a congregation that practically had dwindled to nonexistence. He named the new church Templo Evangelico. One of only two bilingual churches at the time in the region, Alvarado remained pastor until retiring in 2010.
Alvarado’s arrival in Lynden followed a storied life of seeking the Lord’s guidance after converting to Christ in 1953 in Munday, Texas. At the age of 18, the son of Mexican immigrants didn’t know how to read or write, either Spanish or English.
Motivated by his recent salvation, Alvarado entered a Spanish Bible institute in 1954 and says the Lord miraculously enabled him to learn to read. He graduated in 1957. With few bilingual ministry resources available, Alvarado established himself as one of the first Hispanic pastors in the small Washington community, which has more than doubled in size to 14,000 since his arrival. Alvarado gave Hispanics in Lynden a place to worship. As a father of three daughters and two sons, his work continues through his family. Most are involved in church leadership in some capacity.
Alvarado’s impact in Lynden is still evident at the church he served, which now is known as Mount Sion. Edgar Suarez, 35, assisted his mentor for nine years until Alvarado retired.
“Hill Alvarado sacrificed a lot for the community, and people from many years ago still come to visit because they remember him,” says Suarez.
The Northwest Hispanic District recently honored Alvarado, recognizing his longtime ministry.
“We thank Pastor Alvarado and all the others who put in the work early on with prayers and by ensuring the kingdom of God keeps growing,” says Northwest Hispanic District Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Garza, 54.
The district has an ambitious goal of establishing 20 new churches by 2020 in Oregon and Washington, as well as hopes of starting the ethnic district’s first church in Alaska.
“Being a pastor is not easy, but if you are doing it for the Lord, He will prepare you for the challenges that follow,” Alvarado says.