Pastor Almonte was waiting on the side of the street when we arrived, waving and smiling with exuberance. We were 10 minutes early for our appointment, but he was ready to talk, nonetheless. With the formal introductions behind us, Pastor Almonte quickly ushered us into the building he has been constructing for the past two years, with the help of volunteers from his church. He has been a pastor in this area for nearly four-and-a-half years, and considers himself not only a pastor to the members of his church, but to his entire community.
As I asked Pastor Almonte about My Hope, his eyes lit up. He quoted part of a verse from Isaiah 54, “For you will spread out to the right and to the left…” and continued to tell me that everyone in his church has declared 2010 to be “the year of the great harvest.”
He continued: “The My Hope project has arrived at just the right time for us,” as it has motivated and given them a renewed passion for reaching people for the Kingdom of God. According to Pastor Almonte, a “Window of Hope” is being opened because members now have a desire to win souls for Jesus Christ.
What sets My Hope apart, said Pastor Almonte, is that is provides resources pastors need to continue ministry after the programs have been televised. Following the three-day telecast in March, his church is planning to organize a “Harvest” service in the local stadium for those who viewed the program.
Already Making an Impact
Church members who host friends and families in their homes to view the televised programs are referred to as “Matthews, ” after Matthew of the Gospels.
On the first day of training for the Matthews, four people walking past the church overheard the pastor speaking and wandered in to listen more closely. At the end of the training, all four accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior!
During the next week’s training, three more people passing by stopped in to listen, and accepted Christ, as well.
Hope and Healing
Guillermo was among that first group of neighbors that wandered into the church during the training. He was taking 16 pills a day to treat a heart condition that left him weak, sleep-deprived, and often times unable to breathe. During that first auspicious trip to the church, Pastor Almonte prayed for Guillermo, unaware of his poor health.
That night, Guillermo slept soundly until late in the morning, and his wife had to shake him vigorously to wake him, fearful that he had died in his sleep. It was the first time he had slept through the entire night for as long as he could remember. God miraculously healed him and restored him to perfect health! A recent visit to the doctor had confirmed his healing.
Building a New Life
At the next Sunday morning service, Pastor Almonte asked for volunteers to help with construction of their church, which was still incomplete and lacking a stable roof. Guillermo was the first to walk to the front.
The next day, Pastor Almonte entered the church to find several holes from ceiling to floor completely repaired. Guillermo had arrived before sunrise and begun work without any direction from the pastor, proclaiming that this was now his church, too, and he was ready to do whatever it would take to finish the building.
He has been returning every day since, without accepting any form of compensation. God had not only touched his physical heart, but his soul, and given new meaning to his life.
In The World
Pastor Almonte’s church is a wonderful example of what it means to live as a Christian, and be in the world, but not of the world. The Matthews in his church are reaching out to those without God in their lives in ways the pastor never imagined possible, and he credits My Hope for this new-found zeal.
Other churches in the area are talking about Pastor Almonte’s church because of its social work, and non-believers are impressed with the way the church has integrated itself into the community.