Hispanic Camp Meeting Breaks Record
Story by Heidi Shoemaker
The Hispanic camp meeting of 2016 brought a record attendance of brothers and sisters from across the state to Camp Mohaven in Danville. Leaders reinforced the theme, “Pentecost: Harvest Time,” with central messages by Pastor July Chazarreta, an evangelist for El Centinela, and performances by several well-known musicians. “It was a unique experience. Attendees were spiritually renewed as never before through messages, special music, prayer and Christian fellowship,” says Peter M. Simpson, Hispanic Ministries coordinator of Ohio Conference.
Hispanic Ministries continues to grow rapidly in Ohio. “Three short years ago, Hispanic camp meeting used to bring around 200-225 members, and last year 500 people attended. This year, however, we celebrated camp meeting with more than 700!” exclaims Simpson.
Simpson (pictured below baptizing Salvador Hernandez from the Hamilton (Ohio) Spanish church) has recently included baptisms during weekend programming. “The first year we baptized three to five new members; last year, eight to 10 new members; and in 2016, the Lord blessed us with 37 precious souls coming to the kingdom of heaven,” says Simpson. Eight others were baptized prior to camp meeting who were unable to attend due to extenuating circumstances.
The record number who registered for the weekend forced Simpson and Camp Mohaven ranger, Dave Robinson, to use creative solutions to meet their guests’ needs. They rented a large tent that was equipped with lights to house the main meetings and instated portable toilets and showers. “I love seeing the camp so full,” says Robinson. “There was joy all around, happiness on every face,” proclaims Simpson. “It was the biggest Hispanic celebration we’ve had in the Ohio Conference!”
Simpson and conference Hispanic pastors hold smaller evangelistic and outreach campaigns and assistant lay pastor (ALP) trainings for church elders in the weeks and months prior to camp meeting to encourage members to meet with friends and neighbors in small groups. Two key components in the success of Hispanic Ministries are 1) the active involvement of church members on a personal level, and 2) the use of friendship evangelism. At a recent ALP training, members shared counsel from Ellen G. White. “The Lord desires that His word of grace shall be brought home to every soul. To a great degree this must be accomplished by personal labor. This was Christ's method” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 229).
“We praised the Lord at the end of this convocation for giving us so many victories for His glory. Reaping is our continued focus as we look forward to that glorious day when not just Hispanics, but people from every tongue and nation, will meet at the feet of Jesus, our Master and Savior,” says Simpson.