Rev. Edinson DeArco is a pastor in our conference who leads a Hispanic/Latino church, “Esperanza Viva,” which is housed within Hamilton First UMC in the Ohio River Valley District. Edinson and his wife, Soraya, are from Colombia and have been living and serving in ministry and raising their family in Ohio for a number of years. If you were to visit Esperanza Viva on a Sunday morning, you would experience a vibrant worship service attended by 60-65 Hispanics praising God within their native language and cultural context. However, the impact of Edinson’s ministry goes far beyond this worship service.
As of July 1, 2017, Ezperanza Viva became West Ohio's first Hispanic and Latino chartered congregation. Edinson says that the members of Esperanza Viva was moved to become a missional congregation, reaching out to people of different cultures. They were empowered by the Annual Conference to create a new worshipping community.
Most of the families that are members of his church do not live in Mason, but rather travel in for Sunday service. Edinson knew, however, that due to lack of transportation opportunities, there were many people not being reached. In April, Edinson felt led to begin planting house churches within homes in the communities where some of his congregants were located. So, he trained up and deployed leaders from his congregation to start these groups. What began with one small group in Cincinnati has grown to six house churches going as far north as Sidney. Within the six house churches, there are 55-60 people gathering in community for Bible study and worship, doubling the individuals that Pastor Edinson’s ministry is reaching.
Edinson shared that these small groups were a plan just for the summer time, but its success shows that it needs to continue. Since there aren’t many opportunities for Hispanic/Latino Christians in southwest Ohio to find a church in their own culture and language within their community, and making the trip to another town for worship isn’t always feasible, planting house churches directly in their communities is reaching new people in new places for Jesus Christ.
New Church Start in North Columbus
Ernesto and Melva Trevino moved to the U.S. from Mexico in 1998. After ministering in the Southwestern Illinois Conference for several years, they found a new challenge in the West Ohio Conference – a new church start in north Columbus.
Melva says she has been praying for this ministry for a long time: “God spoke to me, guiding me to transform communities by focusing on the Good News, the gospel and evangelism.”
The dream is to build a multicultural, bilingual church, complete with interpreters, in the Northland area, serving first and second generation Hispanic and Latino populations. With a special focus on first generation immigrants, the ministry will include very intentional bilingual outreach to youth and young adults.
The new church start began with a Bible study group, meeting after hours in a dental clinic in Westerville. Ernesto finds that getting information out about the new church is challenging; he and Melva are using flyers, ads in three Spanish newspapers in the Northland area, and talking to everyone they meet.
Please pray for Ernesto and Melva as they continue to reach out to the Hispanic population in the Columbus area, and for this future new church start.