Articulo en Columbus Dispatch
When the Rev. David Molina moved to central Ohio about 10 years ago, there were two or three evangelical Christian churches that catered to Hispanics.
Now, he said, there are 45 to 50.
While the Columbus area is still in its “baby stages” when it comes to developing these churches, Molina and other Hispanic pastors want to celebrate the new growth, increased diversity and hidden strengths of their Christian communities.
The free Impacto Columbus 2015 festival on Aug. 29 at Franklin Park will feature international and local recording artists, sermons, information booths and a mini heath fair. Organizers expect as many as 2,000 to attend the festival, which they hope becomes an annual event, said Molina, pastor of Iglesia Comunidad Cristiana, with campuses on the East and North sides.
The goal of the gathering is not to highlight specific churches but to present a “kingdom of God mentality,” said the Rev. Jessie Lamus, pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Vida Nueva in Grove City.
“It’s not about a church — my church, his church. It’s all about the kingdom,” he said in Spanish with his son, David Lamus, translating. “We just want Jesus’ church to grow in the city through the music, through the message. We want a lot of people to be impacted; we want them to know God.”
The festival starts at 2 p.m. at the E. Broad Street park on the Near East Side.
David Lamus, who serves in the art and youth departments at Vida Nueva, will kick off the entertainment at 4 p.m. Headliners include Hispanic recording artists Alex Zurdo and Julissa. Sermons will follow at 7:30 p.m.
Addressing the crowd will be Molina and the Rev. Miler Montoya, pastor of Kingdom Vision International Ministries in Marion, Ohio.
The event seeks to bring together churches of various denominations and help people learn about the more than a dozen different Hispanic cultures. For example, Molina is from El Salvador and has a Pentecostal background, while Lamus is a Colombian who pastors a Wesleyan church. Montoya is from Panama, and his background is in the Assemblies of God.
“We want to make a call for unity. This is one of the things that we have in our hearts. We’re going to be calling pastors and churches to be united,” said Montoya, who also leads the Red Pastoral de Ohio, an association of Hispanic pastors.
Montoya said the event will serve as a preview to an October prayer meeting that aims to pull together Hispanic evangelical pastors and churches from around the state.
“We believe this nation needs a revival,” he said. “I believe with all my heart that prayer engaged with the culture is one of the tools God wants us to use at this time to bring that revival.”
According to 2014 data from the Pew Research Center, 19 percent of Latinos in the U.S. identify as evangelicals.
In Ohio, evangelical Christians account for 29 percent of the population, making up the state’s largest religious group.
Molina said many of the city’s evangelical churches cannot meet the needs of the growing Hispanic population.
“Culturally, we’re very different. Our roots are different, our customs, traditions,” he said.
“And we see God in a different way. In the American tradition, we’ve been taught that God is your friend. In the Hispanic tradition, we’ve been taught that God is your king.”
Montoya said Hispanic pastors also must understand immigration issues and minister to people who are in the U.S. without legal documentation. Further, he said, the churches help people network, provide a place where others speak the same language, and offer a way to overcome the loneliness that comes from living far from home.
“Church is more than just religious activity. Church becomes a place to gather,” he said. “A lot of them find church is home, it is the place where they can rest. They can find new family there."
The Rev. Lamus said the churches also foster community growth, encouraging members to establish roots by opening businesses and buying homes.
But Impacto Columbus also aims to extend its reach beyond Hispanics, Montoya said. It is open to everyone regardless of race or religion. Entertainers will perform bilingually, and an interpreter will be on hand for the sermons.
“This is for everybody,” Montoya said. “This crosses religions. This crosses races. This crosses languages.
“God has one language: the language of love.”