In 2005, the South St. Paul Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church was facing a dilemma brought on by the success of their mission. So many people were attending church that they had to set up folding chairs in the aisles. Worried over the fact that this was a fire code issue, the members and Pastor Eddie Valdez met to pray and to decide what to do next.
Through the discussion, an inspirational answer came to them. The Hispanic population in the Northeast part of the metro area was growing, but there was not a Spanish speaking congregation established there. In fact, several of the members lived in that area themselves, and had to drive some distance to church. If those who lived in the area would be willing to branch out and start a church there, the work would be multiplied and the parent church would not be so full as to discourage new growth.
Oscar Ramos, one of the members who was at the meeting, was inspired by this vision. His family lived in the Northeast, and he was willing to work hard to build the new congregation. Soon after the meeting he had a dream in which he saw five other leaders who would join him. Each of the others did join the effort, and that core group soon had eight or nine families ready to make the transition. On June 6, 2006, they held their first Sabbath service in a rented church in Fridley, MN.
The Northeast Seventh-day Adventist Church, or NESDA, grew over the years, and became an official church in 2013. Today they have over 75 members, with about 100 attending on a weekly basis. As the Lord blessed, they prayed for their own building, and raised money toward its purchase. They looked at many different options, but nothing seemed to work out right. Despite their discouragement, they persevered in prayer and in raising money.
One day early this year, two church members, Rojelio Sanchez and Magdiel Teyul, independent of each other, noticed a for-sale sign on the lawn of a church in their neighborhood. The church was only about a mile from their rented church in Fridley, so they passed the word on to Pastor Guillermo Aravella, who contacted the Minnesota Conference office. Within three days of the sign going up on the lawn, the pastor and several church members met at the church with Hispanic Coordinator Elder Yulian Tinoco, VP for Finance Reggie Leach, and Property Manager Doug Inglish. The prospective church was very accommodating, in excellent condition, and had a parsonage next door. An agreement drawn to make an offer, which was immediately accepted, and closing was held on May 13, 2015.
“Honestly, we were stunned when they accepted our first offer”, said Elder Inglish. “They had just gone on the market, and we were fully expecting a counter offer. It seems that the Lord was behind this from the beginning, and made the way clear for us.”
The congregation who sold the building had a second offer, which NESDA did not know about until later. A Muslim congregation had offered them any price they would name for the building. They prayed about it, and decided to accept the offer from NESDA. Since then they have seen the appreciation of their new building in the way that NESDA has gone about sprucing up the landscaping and making repairs to the parsonage, and the sellers feel they made the wise choice.
The day after closing, many of the congregation came out to see their new building and offer prayers of thanksgiving. They held their first service in the church on May 23, and had a special service on May 30, with Elder Inglish preaching the sermon and offering a prayer of consecration for the church.
“Now we can do what we want to do, without asking permission. This will enhance our mission, and make us better able to serve our God,” says Pastor Arevalo.
Doug Inglish, Director of Gift Planning & Trust Services
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