HAWTHORNE, Calif. (BP)–Forget art imitating life. Try art ushering in new life.
That’s what happened when Arturo Carrillo showed a segment of the 2008 California Mission Offering video to a man in his church he had been counseling. After viewing the video and hearing Carrillo explain that “Jesus is your answer,” Carrillo recounted that the man fell on his knees and confessed his faith in and acceptance of Jesus.
“Now I am recommending the video to others to use,” said the pastor of a new church, Iglesia Nuevo Avivamiento in Hawthorne, Calif. “I tell them, ‘Use it and then be quiet.’ Sometimes we talk too much.”
Some talking, though, helped set the stage: A woman in Carrillo’s church, a believer, came to him asking for counsel about her marriage to her unbelieving husband.
“They had big problems, but I knew that he needed Jesus,” the soft-spoken Carrillo explained. “So I talked with her, and then we all three went to Denny’s and talked for about two hours. Then we went to my house and I showed him the video and then I didn’t say anything for several minutes. Then I told him, ‘You saw the problem but you also saw the chance to make the solution.'”
The video, a promotional work produced in conjunction with the 2008 California Mission Offering, explores the theme of “Bright Hope for Dark Days” through several fictional storylines: a couple with marital problems, a widow with financial problems and a church planter struggling financially. In each case of “dark days,” Jesus is the “bright hope,” as this husband discovered.
Carrillo has shown different portions of the video to other people, but not to his church at large, as the video is in English and the church’s services are in Spanish.
Iglesia Nuevo Avivamiento is a one-year-old congregation that already has experienced significant growth since its early days in an upper room of Central Baptist Church in Inglewood. The six months in that location were a logistical challenge, Carrillo said, but it hasn’t appeared to hinder the church’s growth. Friday evening activities — what the pastor likens to a traditional Sunday School setting — draw about 100 people; the Sunday afternoon service, now held at Centinela Bible Church, averages about 75. They baptized 15 people last November and have another six — five of whom are adults — currently awaiting baptism.
The church, whose name means new life or new revival, is actively reaching out to the Latino community in Hawthorne, a town of around 90,000 about 10 minutes from the Los Angeles airport. Almost half of the population is Latino.
In August, Iglesia Nuevo Avivamiento held a block party complete with free food, a water jumper for children (into which nearly all the fathers present, including Carrillo, were thrown by the end of the day) and music. About 400 people attended. Carrillo said the event “was a blessing to the neighbors,” an assessment evidenced by the addition of three new families to the church and even one family added to their host church.
Iglesia Nuevo Avivamiento in many ways epitomizes the diversity of people and ministries in California. The pastor, who is bivocational, is Latino. The pastor’s mentor is an Anglo church planting strategist supported through the California Southern Baptist Convention. The congregation is Latino, but with first-generation, English-speaking children — which means the Friday evening “Sunday School” is offered in both languages. The church’s initial host, Central Baptist Church, is an African American congregation. Iglesia Nuevo Avivamiento now is meeting at an Anglo church. The August block party was financed in part through money from the California convention, as were the boxes of Bibles the church uses for services and outreach.
These multifaceted partnerships fuel further growth of God’s Kingdom in California. And even art, in the form of a short video about state missions, can help offer “Bright Hope for Dark Days.”
This article first appeared in The California Southern Baptist, newsjournal of the California Southern Baptist Convention. For more information about the California Mission Offering, visit www.calmissions.com.