IT IS well said that New York City is as cosmopolitan as it is possible to be. Here one finds representatives of practically all the citizens of the world. Indeed, it is a real challenge, for it is a mission field in itself. The command is to go and "make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19, R.S.V.), and there are thousands upon thousands "within the shadow of our doors" who hunger and thirst after righteousness.
Here is what the pen of inspiration has to say about this in Evangelism, page 571:
The message must be given to the thousands of foreigners living in these cities in the home field...
Who feels heavily burdened to see the message proclaimed in Greater New York and in the many other cities as yet unworked? Not all the means that can be gathered up is to be sent from America to distant lands, while in the home field there exists such providential opportunities to present the truth to millions who have never heard it. Among these millions are the representatives of many nations, many of whom are prepared to receive the message. Much remains to be done within the shadow of our doors—in the cities of California, New York, and many other States. (Italics supplied.)
Thus our message is being preached, not only by our English-speaking churches, but also by the Czechoslovakian, German, Hungarian, Hebrew, Italian, Yugoslavian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Ukrainian churches.
In the Statistical Report for the North American Division, for the fourth quarter of I960, the membership of the Greater New York Conference is listed as 4,423. Of these 4,423 members, there are 2,450 in the foreign language churches. This means that more than half of the membership of our conference belongs to congregations other than our English-speaking ones.
Upon breaking these figures down a little more, we find that of the 2,450 foreign-language-speaking believers, there are 1,460 Spanish-speaking members, making them the largest of the foreign-language-speaking groups. We are trying to carry out the following counsel:
While plans are being carried out to warn the inhabitants of various nations in distant lands, much must be done in behalf of the foreigners who have come to the shores of our own land. . . . God's people are to labor faithfully in distant lands, as His providence .may open the way; and they are also to fulfill their duty toward the foreigners of various nationalities in the cities and villages and country districts close by.—Ibid., p. 569. (Italics supplied.)
The Lord has blessed our Spanish work here in New York City because of such plans and efforts. It has not been easy, but the Lord has always added His blessing to the efforts of the hard-working Spanish ministers and lay members. It is always very encouraging to see God's hand leading amid the troubles, trials, and difficulties. Satan has brought up one barrier after another, but the hand of the Lord has destroyed them time and again, thus establishing the fact that Jesus Christ is "able to keep that which we have committed unto him against that day."
We finished the year 1960 with 1,460 members. During the past six years 972 souls have been baptized. These faithful members paid the sum of $193,041.06 in tithes during 1960. Considering the fact that there are eight Spanish ministers, the average tithe income to the conference, per minister, would be about $24,000.
In addition to these eight Spanish ministers, there are eight colporteurs and six teachers that are daily bringing our message by word of mouth and by the printed page to hundreds of other Spanish-speaking people; fulfilling the counsel of the pen of inspiration that says:
To give all nations the message of warning—this is to be the object of our efforts. . . . From city to city, and from country to country, they are to carry the publications containing the promise of the Saviour's soon coming. These publications are to be translated into every language; for to all the world the gospel is to be preached.—Ibid., p. 578.
Because we have taken heed to this counsel, during the past year, out of the 338 souls that were united by baptism to our conference, 203 were baptized by our Spanish ministers, who believe that ours is a progressive work and that we as Seventh-day Adventists are to be the head and not the tail.
Burning with the zeal and joy of heaven, these consecrated ministers and lay members are looking forward to an ever richer harvest of souls.
At the present time there are ten organized churches. Probably, by the time I finish writing this article there will be eleven, for a new church is to be organized in the Bronx.
As with many other congregations, we have our problems too. Our churches have grown so rapidly that our present church buildings are inadequate to cope with the overflow. The overcrowded Manhattan Spanish church has swarmed and has a group meeting in West Side Manhattan. It is extremely difficult to find meeting places because of the overcrowded conditions of New York City. A similar problem is facing our Spanish Mott Haven church.
I could continue enumerating these problems until I reach the number of ten, for all our churches have grown so rapidly that they cannot make provision on their existing church buildings to meet the demands for more room.
What will we do? At the present time we cannot solve this problem; but this we know, we will have to turn to the Lord as never before and ask Him to provide, for it is His work. In the meantime we must exercise faith and patience. There is wisdom in waiting for the Lord.
One of the more fortunate of the Spanish churches is the Bay Shore Spanish church, on Long Island. This church has grown so rapidly that the present building is inadequate for the congregation. However, the members have decided to build a house of worship to the honor of God and they have already bought the land on which the new church edifice will be built, and are looking forward in faith to the day when they will break ground.
We realize that there is an enormous task before us as we face the more than 500,000 Spanish people in New York City and its immediate communities. They must hear the message and witness to the power of God and His Word.
Our whole force has renewed its faith in God and is trusting that the power that descended upon the apostolic church will descend upon them in the form of the latter rain so that we can proclaim this message with power, "even from the roof tops," so that we may have many souls to present before our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The servant of the Lord wrote: "There is a great work before us. . . . Christ has made us ambassadors to make known His salvation to the children of men; and if we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ and are filled with the joy of His indwelling Spirit, we shall not be able to hold our peace."—Ibid., pp. 570, 571.
As Spanish ministers and lay members and workers, our desire is to be Christ's ambassadors and to proclaim His salvation to the children of men and to finish the work He has given us to do. We solicit the prayers and help of all our brethren to this end.