One of the oldest Seventh-day Adventist church buildings in the history of our denomination is now the new home of one of the newest Adventist churches in the Central States Conference and Mid-America Union territory. On Sabbath May 13, my family and I were blessed to visit the first Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist congregation in the state of South Dakota. This church is part of a three-church district led by Pastor Gregorio Aviles and his wife, Sandra, who are doing an excellent job in leading and growing the work in this part of the vineyard.
Many of the founding members of this congregation were driving approximately one hour and 15 minutes to our Sioux City Adventist Church in Sioux City, Iowa. And over time the multicultural director for Central States Conference, Pastor Tomas DeGyves, felt impressed that we should entertain the idea of planting a church in the city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where the group was traveling from. The group then began meeting in a home, but as Pastor Aviles engaged in evangelistic meetings the numbers of the members grew rapidly within the last year—praise God!
While seated on the platform before preaching my sermon, I could see that approximately 40-50 people were worshiping in the sanctuary that day. As we broke bread (literally great Hispanic cuisine) together, we then heard how the pastor and church leaders had searched for a church building to rent. They had been directed to consider this property, which had become available. And then interestingly enough, they discovered that in 1897 this building was one of the first churches erected in our Seventh-day Adventist denomination, with 100 members and an average attendance of 85.
I am uncertain what the future holds for this building, but what a blessing it would be if the Lord would open up His windows of heaven and pour out a financial blessing on us that could allow this property to once again be owned by a Seventh-day Adventist organization after 126 years. From one of the oldest church buildings in our conference to one of the newest buildings in our conference territory—fully renovated—would be an amazing testimonial.
Of course, our first priority is to be ready to receive those mansions that God has prepared for us in the New Jerusalem. But a storyline like this one can indeed be a great witness of God’s ability to house His people here on earth as well.
Cryston Josiah is vice-president of administration for the Central States Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.