Lutheran Latino Ministries is an important partner of the NOW District. They work to connect people and resources for gospel outreach, train leaders, and provide culturally and linguistically accessible Word and Sacrament ministry. A few of the specific ways they do this include offering discipleship training opportunities and workshops, connecting congregations with bilingual and/or Spanish-speaking leaders, identifying pastoral candidates, coordinating financial aid for seminary students, and providing resources and Bibles.
At the 2022 NOW District Convention, we recognized LLM bypassing Resolution 2-11, which included the directive “to commend to our district members and congregations generous support of the Lutheran Latino Ministries organization.” This affirms the work of LLM as worthy of support from all corners of the Northwest. In the coming months, we will highlight a few of these stories as examples of LLM’s impact.
Edgar Burgos Lavadoras is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church who was encouraged and supported into service in the church through LLM. He assists during services, sings in the choir, and at one point, launched a program called Bibles and Basketball.
“In 2019, I started Bibles and Basketball. That’s the way we can reach teenagers. We met every Friday at 7 p.m. in the church gym. We read a passage of the Bible and explained to the teenagers what we need to do to live in obedience to God; we prayed, and then played basketball. We only did a little while because COVID hit. Some of the teenagers wanted to keep meeting and studying God’s Word. Pastor Eric Moeller and I taught them together, “he said. “The teenagers want to speak English, so it was important for Pastor to be there to explain to them. I really need to improve my English. That’s a big challenge. I’m taking ESL classes.”
Edgar said he was encouraged into leadership through LLM’s President, Pam Bridgehouse.
“One day, I had the sense that I should serve – and before long, the Latino members said, ‘You’re our leader.’ Hermana Pam[Bridgehouse] said, ‘You can do this. You can take on this responsibility.”
Pam Bridgehouse encouraged Edgar because she saw the gifts he possessed. She also recognized his enthusiasm for scripture.
“Over the past seven years, he has taken on more and more responsibility,” she said. “He is a lay minister in the congregation and is capable of leading a worship service. He has had sufficient training through MTC classes and entry-level seminary classes to be eligible to apply for admission to the Center for Hispanic Studies of Concordia Seminary. While serving at Trinity, Portland, Rev. Paul Gossman inspired Edgar and awakened his missionary zeal.”
This missionary zeal is evident. His words and actions show he is passionate about the gospel and reaching others who don’t know Jesus.
“At work, on the street, when a family invites you to a party, you have to reach the people who don’t know God,” he said. “At the Mayan Cultural Festival (Saturday, Aug. 20, at Trinity, Portland), a friend I hadn’t seen for two years asked how I was doing. I said, ‘I am very happy serving the Lord.’ He asked me where I go to church. I said, ‘Here! This is my church.’ I asked if he had a Bible. We got one from the Lutheran Latino Ministries table and I showed him how to read it. I shared a little of my testimony and he said, ‘Oh, wow!’ He was impressed.”
Now that he’s been active in the church for a while, Edgar is excited to continue preparing for bigger leadership roles. This includes working on his English so he can reach people beyond the Latino community.
“I want to be a disciple. I want to preach the Word of God. I want to reach the people who don’t know God and bring them into the church – to tell them, “Go to church!” I’m not shy about theGospel because, as Paul says, it is the power of God for salvation. Any time I have the chance to preach the Word of God, I’ll do it,” he said. “I am asking God. I want to be prepared. First to learn to speak English so I could talk to Anglos on the street about the Word of God. Sometimes I feel bad because I don’t know how to explain to them the Word of God. I don’t want to say something wrong. I ask God to help me learn the language. I don’t want to reach only Latinos. I know a lot of Anglos don’t follow God. I want to reach them, too. God knows my heart. I just want to be prepared.”
And his big WHY for doing this – for everything he does in the church and in the community – is simple: The Great Commission. He said that’s the biggest part of his life: “To be a disciple, and not just be a benchwarmer, but to make disciples.”
“We have to help our neighbor,” he said. “You can see people who have been attending church for years who don’t get the message. We need to help them and encourage them and show them the love you’re getting from God. That way they can see that ‘This guy is different from me.’ They want to be different too, but they don’t put into practice what they hear. I think the hardest part is to put in practice the Word of God.”
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