Indiana Hispanic Church at the Leading Edge of Kingdom Expansion
By Carl Stagner
Churches of the Concilio Hispano—the Hispanic Council of the Church of God—are some of the fastest-growing, most on-fire-for-the-Lord in our movement today. It’s exciting to see and hear what God is doing among our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters as they seek to reach the Latino population for Jesus Christ. Until you’ve attended one of their services, you may not be able to imagine fully the passion and the power overflowing from their worship, preaching, and prayer. It was no different at the building dedication service for Iglesia de Dios la Hermosa in Anderson, Indiana—the first Hispanic church this century to have their own facility in the state.
For many years, God was actively preparing Heriberto Mejia to lead his own flock. A familiar scenario among Church of God Hispanic congregations, disciples like Heriberto weren’t being groomed for higher positions in his home church; instead, it was expected that one day Heriberto would be called away to pastor another church. Like many pastors in the movement, Heriberto is bivocational. When his job relocated him to Greenfield, Indiana, he listened for the Spirit to guide him to just the right sphere of ministry. A small fellowship of Spanish-speaking believers in Anderson had experienced some ups and downs over the years, but until Heriberto came to town, nothing really solidified. That’s when he met the leadership at South Meridian Church of God.
Four years have passed since an extraordinarily cooperative relationship between South Meridian and Iglesia de Dios la Hermosa began. Over those four years, the Spanish-speaking congregation more than doubled in size and needed their own hub of ministry from which to carry out the Great Commission to the largely unreached Hispanic population of Anderson, Indiana. After concerted prayer efforts, the Spirit led them to a vacant church building just west of downtown. On Saturday, January 16, Pastor Heriberto cut the ceremonial ribbon in a spirited dedication service that welcomed guests from Church of God Ministries, Indiana Ministries, South Meridian Church of God, as well as Hispanic pastors from other states.
“We were growing and had a lot of people saved and baptized,” Heriberto explains. “The Spirit of God was at work. We had healings. My son, diagnosed with diabetes, was healed. We have so many more testimonies beyond that. We’re thankful for Pastor Ed Hyatt and South Meridian Church of God for blessing us and continuing to support us. But now that we have our own building, we have space to grow and reach our neighbors. We’re planning to have activities for the community in our parking lot, and work with our neighbors and the fire and police departments. We now have space for a freezer and groceries to have a food bank for the needy. We’ll have space to keep jackets and shoes to give to the poor. The most important part is that we will love God and our neighbors and preach the gospel that Jesus saves.”
Sam Rivera is an Anderson University freshman now attending Iglesia de Dios la Hermosa as a student. Heriberto has been a lifelong family friend to Sam, whose father Samuel pastors the Iglesia de Dios Hispana in Woodbridge, Virginia. Now Sam is looking forward to helping strengthen the worship ministry at the Anderson church, and is looking forward to seeing all that God will do through the new facility. “Throughout our time in Woodbridge, pastors and preachers, prophets, and evangelists would all say the same about Heriberto Mejia—that someday he would be in a position far from home, preaching the Word of God, and changing not only his life, but the people around him, too,” Sam explains. “I feel that this will be a start to the growth of the Hispanic community and other minority groups here in Anderson. With all my heart, I am very proud and just absolutely thrilled to be part of Iglesia de Dios la Hermosa.”
South Meridian Church of God continues to support the Hispanic congregation in Anderson but, as Pastor Ed Hyatt explains, it’s really a mutual blessing. “It was a wonderful partnership, and still is,” he reflects. “Even now when someone comes to our church who is looking for a Hispanic connection, we send them to Iglesia de Dios. When someone’s looking for an Anglo connection, they refer them to us. We’re so excited for Pastor Heriberto and this church!”
Pastor Heriberto Mejia anticipates seeing how God will use the new opportunities that come with a new building. He’s also happy the Lord brought him and his family to Anderson. “I am so happy to be a part of the Church of God in Anderson,” he explains. “I look forward to being a part of activities together with the other churches and Anderson University, too.”
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