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A Lighthouse in the Midwest

A church for Spanish speakers in the Midwest maintains its roots and reaches out to the Spanish- and English-speaking community.

Many drivers on U.S. Highway 65 in Springfield, Missouri, are surprised to see a small lighthouse. Although there is no large body of water nearby, this lighthouse sits on the property of El Faro Assembly of God. Just as the light of lighthouses brings ships safely into port and indicates the direction they should follow, El Faro AG [El Faro means “The Lighthouse” in Spanish], which recently celebrated its 34th anniversary, indicates the path to salvation.

Daniel Feliciano and his wife, Gloria, started El Faro to reach Hispanic families in Springfield. The church began meeting in the home of Ramón and Delia Claudio in 1989. At the time, there were only a few scattered Hispanic families in the area, so they could not imagine how many lives their choice would one day impact.

As Springfield’s Hispanic population increased, so did attendance at El Faro. Over the years the congregation moved through various locations until it was able to acquire its own building in east Springfield. Two people crucial to the purchase of the building were Thomas Trask, then-general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, and the congregation's pastor at the time, Efraim Espinoza.

The small congregation focused on reaching out to the community in several ways, including visiting the federal prison located in town. These activities helped train a new generation of leaders, pastors, and missionaries — some of them students from Central Bible College (now part of Evangel University).

“El Faro has been characterized by its hospitality, with its doors and heart open to the university students who arrive every year and to the diverse community that comes to meet us,” says Patricia Figueroa, the current pastor. “We have intentionally maintained Spanish as the main language of communication, which always attracts English-speaking people who want to have the experience of immersion in the Hispanic language and culture.”

Patricia and her husband, Nelson, came to El Faro in 2015 in the middle of a transition to join their daughter who was studying at Evangel.

“As usual, we arrived to serve in whatever way was asked of us,” Figueroa says. “But the Lord had different plans that we did not imagine. Pastors Luis and Rosa Rojas had the confidence to lead us into pastoral ministry after they had led the church for six years.”

According to Figueroa, the church desires to serve and reach Springfield while also remaining true to its values: fervent prayer, a hospitable culture, effective outreach, intentional discipleship, and healthy families.
“As a pastor I have been able to appreciate the movement of the Holy Spirit in our midst, guiding us first to ‘lay down deep roots in the love of God’ (Ephesians 3:17, NLT). The vision that God has given us today has its basis in our name, El Faro, and in the words of Isaiah 60:1 ‘Arise, shine,’” Figueroa says.

If the church has proven anything, it is that location is irrelevant if God is the One who has opened the gates. El faro has been a church of encounter and development for Hispanic leaders and missionaries, especially to Latin America.

Today people of various nationalities attend El Faro, and although Spanish is the official language, many English speakers also attend, taking advantage of the provided translation services. This helps the church by keeping families together, despite language differences, and continuing the tradition of attracting the lost.


Yordis Gonzalez-Quevedo

Yordis Gonzalez-Quevedo is the Spanish Communications Specialist for AG Communications and PR at the Assemblies of God National Office.