I got to know Ivelisse Davila after a My Hope coordinators meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We spoke across the table, over plates of fish and plantains, and Ivelisse’s passion for the Gospel shone through her smile as she shared her desire to reach the youth in her community for Christ.
Not only is Ivelisse a regional coordinator, recruiting pastors in her area to train church members on how to be effective Matthews (church members who host friends & families in their homes to view the televised programs are referred to as “Matthews, ” after Matthew of the Gospels), but she is also going to be a Matthew herself. She is so excited about the My Hope program that she is training 25-30 youth in her church to be Matthews with her.
Ivelisse told me she loves My Hope “because I always wanted to evangelize, but never had the specific tools. To me it’s more than the actual telecast – it’s the training that helps me to evangelize.”
She went on to talk about the youth in her life. “It’s not enough for youth to just know Christ – they have to share Christ. If they are afraid to talk to their friends about God, I encourage them to invite them to the church so God can help them with their lives.”
A local volunteer prepares training material for My Hope
Ivelisse’s excitement for sharing the love of Christ is what makes her such a successful coordinator. At the time of our meeting nearly a month ago, she had over 90 churches in her network – I’m sure it’s well over 100 by now. She enjoys visiting pastors and establishing a personal relationship with them, and her passion for My Hope is contagious.
Ivelisse attributes her success to the other coordinators in the program: “I’ve taken all the good advice from other coordinators and put it into practice. I am patient, explain the project to pastors, and most importantly, I always pray for God to help me. Pastors tell me that My Hope is the opportunity for which they have been praying and waiting. They are all so excited about the program.”
There is a saying on billboards in San Juan that says “Everyone Needs Coca Cola.” Ivelisse has applied that approach to pastors she deals with daily, telling them “Everyone Needs Christ.” She continued to tell me that most Christians know they need to do something, but they’re afraid.
“I hope that Christians and pastors will not get too comfortable and become passive, but that they will be passionate about evangelism. My Hope is the perfect tool for empowering Christians to move from complacency to action. The training tells you exactly what you need to do. People in the church want direction and guidance. My Hope is so clear that it will help you reach people for the Kingdom of God.”
Ivelisse is just one of the many dedicated coordinators
Working as a My Hope coordinator has been such a blessing to Ivelisse that she is praying about becoming a leader in her local church. This entire process of working with pastors as a coordinator, and with youth as a Matthew, has given her a vision for leading the next generation of Christians, and helping them share the love of Christ with their friends and family.
When I asked Ivelisse how we could pray for her, she requested we pray that the Lord will give her wisdom, words and energy to impart the message of the Gospel. She also asked that we pray that others involved with My Hope will be passionate for evangelism.
Steve Cook, a freelance programmer and photographer, recently accompanied his wife on a trip to Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico to capture images and stories of participants in BGEA’s My Hope projects.