“Canadá para Cristo” Nets 179
Baptisms and Candidates
Effort unites 12 of nation’s Spanish-speaking congregations
BY LAURA A. SÁMANO, North American Division
A total of 179 people are on track to join the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada, with the majority already members following a weeklong evangelistic campaign held in October and aimed at Spanish-speaking residents in Canada.
“Canadá para Cristo,” or “Canada for Christ,” was a collaborative effort between Hispanic union leaders and Hispanic congregations in Canada, which reports the lowest ratio of Hispanic Adventists to the general Hispanic population in all of North America.
“The Hispanic segment of the Adventist membership in the North American Division is growing faster than any other,” said Dan Jackson, North American Division (NAD) president. In 2010, 164 baptisms came about through Hispanic evangelism in Canada; in 2010, Canada for Christ’s outcome was 129 baptisms and approximately 50 baptismal candidates.
Hispanic Adventists regularly launch their main evangelistic thrust in October. Rather than broadcast a single evangelistic series, leaders decided to invest time and money in Hispanic evangelism in Canada in local congregations. The meetings included a variety of musicians and Hispanic leaders in the North American Division. Sandra Juárez, director of Esperanza TV (the Spanish-language service of Hope Channel), visited each of the participating churches. As the official channel of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Esperanza TV contributed to the increase in Hispanic church membership, leaders said.
Shawn Boonstra, NAD associate ministerial director for evangelism, said, “There’s no question that reaching out through media has proven very effective, but nothing is as powerful as the personal touch. People want more than information; they want to experience God. And that experience almost always comes through interaction with God’s people.”
Boonstra adds, “For immigrants, it becomes especially important. We tend to depend on ethnic communities as we become established in a new country. A person’s ties to [their] cultural roots seldom vanish.”
Mario Pérez, speaker at the Mississauga, Ontario, Seventh-day Adventist Spanish-speaking Church, said of his congregation, “We had very good attendance. The church was very cooperative and well organized. I could see they were willing to learn—some even took notes.”
According to Héctor Jurado, Hispanic coordinator for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada, the series’ experienced speakers brought spiritual revival to members; Hispanic pastors, who would normally work isolated from their colleagues, were encouraged by their peers’ support.
Reaching Hispanics in Canada is challenging. Jurado says, “Unlike some countries, the Canadian government takes care of immigrants by providing health insurance and teaching them the language. Within five years of migrating to Canada, immigrants are economically stable and have adopted the country’s lifestyle.”
According to the 2006 census prepared by Statistics Canada, a governmental agency, more than 180,000 people from Mexico, El Salvador, Colombia, and Peru have immigrated to Canada.