Small Steps, Big Miracles
Story by Cynthia Mendoza
In 2017, after her brother had repeatedly invited her to attend church, Esmeralda Ramírez began visiting Ohio Conference’s Dublin Hispanic church regularly. Over time, she felt impressed to give her life to Christ, and, at an evangelism festival in December, her heart was moved by what she heard. As a result, she started hosting small groups and Bible studies in her home.
Before her baptism, Ramírez’s home was known as “party central,” with a continuous flurry of socializing and drinking. After her conversion, however, she felt a tug on her heart to use her home for a new purpose: to bring others to Christ. Following her baptism, she turned her home into a “center of hope and salvation” for small groups and Bible study.
Shortly after her baptism, her husband, Eduardo Morales (pictured with Rameriz) followed suit, and, since then, more than 15 of their family and friends have given their lives to Christ through baptism. Even in early 2020, after the coronavirus pandemic hit, the Holy Spirit used her to bring four more friends to Christ.
Today is the Day
Ramírez is one of the many Columbia Union Conference members who participated in the union’s caravan of commitment last spring called El Día Es Hoy (Today Is the Day). This caravan visited all of the Hispanic districts in the union’s territory—making approximately 70 stops.
In their effort, church leaders challenged members to commit to pray for five people in their circle of influence—from immediate family members to co-workers and neighbors. Members also prayed that they could bring at least one person to the Lord in 2020. More than 5,000 members committed themselves to this call.
When the caravan arrived at Ohio Conference’s Delaware Hispanic church, Ruby Galván, a mother of four, felt convicted to pray for the salvation of her husband and others in her sphere of influence. She had been an active Seventh-day Adventist for many years. Her son, 11, and daughter, 14, also started praying for their father.
As a symbol of faith, the family received a baptismal robe to represent that, one day, in the near future, those whom they were praying for would be baptized.
By gently posing the question: “What do you think about ... ?” Galván often respectfully engaged her husband in thoughtful conversations about certain topics of faith, such as the confession of sins to Christ alone.
“By thinking things through and common sense, he came to his own conclusions,” Galván (pictured) said of their conversations.
In August 2020, her husband, René Flores, was baptized—something he wasn’t planning to do that day.
He did not wear the robe his family had been given or bring a change of clothes, but that didn’t keep him from getting baptized—socks and all—making him the first Adventist among his nine siblings.
Through Galván’s willingness to be used by the Holy Spirit, and her efforts to reach out and serve, six other people also gave their lives to Christ in 2020, including a few former Adventists who were subsequently rebaptized and are now active in church.
When the quarantine hit, in-person evangelism was significantly reduced, but members and churches started increasingly using technology to continue sharing the gospel to “a community oppressed by fear and uncertainty,” says Rubén Ramos, Columbia Union vice president for Multilingual Ministries.
Social media outreach also yielded meaningful outcomes for the kingdom of God—some even from thousands of miles away. Through social media, Lorenny Johanna Arevalo Yzarra, now a member of Chesapeake Conference’s Wilmington Spanish company, saw a link for an upcoming week of livestream evangelism. After tuning in and experiencing God, she sent the link to her brother in Colombia, South America, who was also touched by the Holy Spirit. Shortly thereafter, both siblings were baptized—Yzarra in Delaware and her brother in Colombia.
Thanks to the willingness of Columbia Union members to share their faith—despite the pandemic—many people have given their lives to Christ through baptisms in lakes, rivers, portable baptistries and even bathtubs at home.
And since 2016, more than 11,000 Hispanic people in the union have accepted Christ through baptism and profession of faith. There is a story behind each one, and it is the result of much prayer, small steps and big miracles.
“Scripture is full of examples of how the most insignificant and humble acts of faith become the spark that releases the miraculous acts of God’s power,” says Ramos. “There are no circumstances so dark and overwhelming that God’s people, advancing under His command, cannot overcome.”