Congregacion Hispana Hosting TV Ministry
Fair Haven UMC's Spanish-speaking worship service is being broadcast, in part, on channel 55.3 of Nacion Television each week. Prayers and donations through a “District Challenge” to this innovative ministry will exponentially help reach this Spanish-speaking community.
Every Sunday morning at 11 am since November of 2008, Fair Haven UMC's Congregacion Hispana has been worshiping in Spanish. It began with two worshippers, Rev. Jairo Ortiz and his wife, Lucia. Rev. Ortiz understands that Spanish-speakers in Houston are often newcomers with legal and economic challenges, especially at the beginning, as they are often in transition. Through ups and downs, the Lord has worked through Jairo and Fair Haven to create a 100-member congregation, with an average attendance of approximately 50. Additionally, the congregation has a Spanish-speaking Sunday school and has added leaders and youth to Fair Haven's MYF.
Rev. Paul Thomason, Fair Haven UMC, Houston, has discovered firsthand that most Spanish-speakers who are new to this country and city have no idea what Methodists believe. “Many think Methodist is only a hospital, and others associate us only with colleges or universities.” Fair Haven’s Congregacion Hispana is leading the way in using TV media to promote understanding of what Methodists believe, and how to become a disciple,” adds Paul. Personal and district funds are currently paying for the expenses of being on channel 55.3 of Nacion Television from 7-7:30 pm on Thursday nights. Pastors Paul and Jairo Ortiz were excited to receive a "start-up" grant of $3,000 from two donors at Fair Haven.
District Dollar Challenge
Reverend Andy Noel, the District Superintendent of the Central South District has since added $1,000 from district mission funds, and issued a challenge. Notes Andy, “If Fair Haven can raise an additional $1,500 through other districts (or other donors), I will add another $500 from my budget to pay for this television ministry.”
Jairo understands the Church desperately needs to reach out much more aggressively to the rapidly growing Hispanic community in the Houston area and across the state. He asks, “What will the future be like if we fail to get the Holy Word out to those who speak Spanish?”
Other Outreach Ministries
The TV ministry is one of Fair Haven’s many outreach ministries. The ESL Ministry that began in 2008, was initiated by Jairo Ortiz and the Congregacion Hispana. In the last year, Memorial Assistance Ministries has provided most of the teachers. Thanks to funding from Fair Haven United Methodist Men and the Houston Northwest Lions Club, classes are free. This semester, there are 177 enrollees, 100 for the weeknight classes and 77 for the daytime -- up from 44 a year ago.
According to Paul, those who attend night ESL classes usually work a full 8-12 hours each day before coming to class, then study the full three hours from 6-9p.m. and do challenging homework between meetings. Daytime attendees are mothers that often then teach English to their youngsters. He adds, “This really helps them transition into an English-speaking school.”
Jairo says that many students have made huge sacrifices and overcome difficult obstacles to come to America. They come in search of a better life for themselves and their families. They understand that speaking English will improve their opportunities to build that better life so they are willing to work hard in class.
Adds Jairo, “Graduation Nights are very special as we have a party with good food from a lot of different countries, and we celebrate! Then we begin the next semester because learning to speak English takes years.”
Additionally, the Fair Haven Food Pantry feeds 240 families (averaging 4-members) each week. It has been in ministry for decades and covers eight Houston zip codes, along with homeless clients. Since about 80% of all clients are Spanish-speaking, Congregacion Hispana actively assists in this regional ministry.
To collaborate with Jairo or contribute to his growing Hispanic TV ministry, send contributions to Fair Haven United Methodist Church at 1330 Gessner 77055, marked TV Outreach.
See Video of Spanish Language Service Lead by Pastor Jairo Ortiz: