Pastor Bahena gets ready to baptize new members, Rufina Medina and Juan Martinez.
Like many other churches in the North American Division, Lighthouse Hispanic Church in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois has not met since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that has not stopped them from bringing people to the Word of God. Since the church began its virtual programs, they have reached several people who had never before attended Lighthouse Church and as of June 6, baptized five of them.
Lighthouse’s lead pastor Gilberto Bahena says that seeing five new members come to Christ solely through virtual meetings has been amazing and also showed him how much of a ministry virtual and online worship programming can be.
“God uses different methods to reach people. In my opinion, the enemy tried to close our church down and halt our evangelism. However, God has his methods and is using technology to reach people,” Bahena said.
According to Bahena, what has made the church’s outreach so successful is that they host both a Bible study and worship program via Zoom every single day. Having multiple programs daily has made it very easy for current church members to invite others who may be looking to hear more about Christ and the church.
“A lot of people in the world are looking for some type of hope right now. A link makes it a lot easier to provide that to others,” Bahena said.
The accessibility proved to be a blessing for Mayra Guardado, one of the newly baptized members at Lighthouse Hispanic. Guardado says that she had never attended a Christian church before but joined Lighthouse’s online gatherings after a friend invited her. Guardado credits the church’s special emphasis on Bible study and the messages she heard as the main reasons she decided to take this step into a new life.
“I have changed. I feel good. I used to get frustrated easily,” Guardado said about her changed life. “I feel a lot more calm and at peace.”
Similar to Guardado, Dionisia García is another newly baptized member who has only joined the church through virtual meetings. García says that the pandemic left her without a church as the Christian church she had been attending previously did not offer online services. Fortunately for García, a church member heard about her situation and invited her to study the Bible with Lighthouse Church.
“I feel like the Holy Spirit guided me to join,” García said. “When God wants to use you, He will knock on your door.”
Garcia says that God has shown Himself to her through several miracles in the last few months and it became clear that it was time to give her life to God.
“God has not failed me so I could not fail him anymore.” García said. “I feel joyous that God has defeated the enemy.”
Lighthouse Church opened last Sabbath, July 4 with a limited capacity of 50 people. García says that she was eager for the church to reopen so that she can meet the church members in person and get involved in the church ministry wherever God places her. However, she feels that the virtual meetings have been a true blessing to many and hopes that they do not end soon.
“There are many people joining the church. They are being taught how to read the Word of God,” García said. “Anything can be a ministry when you have enough faith.”
Bahena relayed a similar sentiment as Garcia and says that even if the church opens, they do not plan on ending the daily online meetings any time soon.
“I see something very positive here. Even though it is new to us and we did not know how to do it, we are learning and the church’s response has been positive. This is a huge blessing,” Bahena said.
Joel Guerra is majoring in Public Relations and Business Administration at Southern Adventist University. The Hinsdale Fil-Am member enjoys social media and local journalism.