By James Neal
Husband and wife ministerial team Ubaldo and Keila Garcia travel more than 200 miles every Sunday to spread biblical teachings in a language their congregations can understand.
The couple comes from Edmond to minister in Spanish to congregations at Enid and Ringwood Maranatha churches.
Keila said she and Ubaldo were called to found the non-denominational Christian church in Enid five years ago because of a lack of Spanish-language services in the area.
“We were friends with a pastor from another Oklahoma City church that used to preach there in Enid, and when they stopped going there my husband and I knew there was a need that had to be filled,” Keila said.
The Garcias began ministering to about eight people in Enid five years ago. From that small congregation they developed ministerial leaders to recruit more congregants in the Hispanic community.
Wednesday evening services are used to train group leaders, who in turn host social gatherings at their homes to build fellowship and recruit new church members.
“We started with a small group, and we have been working to develop leaders and trying to minister to the Hispanic families there,” Keila said. “We can’t expect people to come to our church if we don’t go out into the community, and that’s a way to be there and be available to help and just bless everybody.
“Our goal is to keep growing and keep having more people come to our church and just be a blessing wherever we are. The mission of our church is to reach Hispanic people there who need God. When they’re in our church we disciple to them and work to improve their quality of life though the principles of the Bible.”
Plans to expand
The Garcias’ model for church growth has proven successful; they now minister weekly to about 100 people in Enid and another 80 at the church west of Ringwood. Keila begins the service in Enid while Ubaldo travels on to minister in Ringwood.
Until recently Enid Maranatha Church held services at Cherokee Strip Conference Center. The congregation purchased land at 627 E. Carrier, where they are holding services in a temporary building.
“Our plans are to build a permanent church there for Hispanic families, to help the families and be a blessing to them,” Keila said.
She said the church has not yet had any formal fundraising for a permanent building, but she and Ubaldo hope to raise the funds from within the church.
Bringing them together
Services at Maranatha Church are led in Spanish, with simultaneous English translation.
“We are not exclusive to the Hispanic community, and we try to make the services welcoming and accessible for English-speakers as well,” Keila said. She said about 20 percent of the Maranatha congregation do not speak Spanish.
Keila said the Spanish-language services help bring the predominantly Hispanic congregation closer to the community, rather than separating them from it.
“We want the people in our church to be a part of the community,” Keila said. “God said we should be lights of hope wherever we are, and we know God brought us here as a blessing. If you love the land, you will prosper in that land. Every person from our church, we try to instill that in their hearts … to be a blessing, and not just to the Hispanic community.”
Making a difference
Keila said she and Ubaldo have seen positive changes in the local Hispanic community over the last five years.
“A lot of the families, when they came to our church the first time, they were having a lot communications problems and relationship problems,” she said. “Through the principles of the Bible they are still together today, and they are serving in the church.”
She said the same positive changes can be seen among local Hispanic youth.
“With the youth, we have seen they now want to serve God and want to go to college and continue to serve the community and God in a better way,” Keila said. “They now know they are part of the Enid community and they are a light and a better influence in the community now.”
While the language at Maranatha Church may be different from most local churches, the most important aspects of the congregation and its mission are the same.
“We have a different culture and language, but we’re all the same,” Keila said. “We all have the same blood, we all sweat the same and we’re all children of the same God.”
Husband and wife traveling to break barriers and minister
By James Neal
- Progress 2012
2012 ON THE HORIZON
The News & Eagle puts out an annual progress edition. This year's 2012 On the Horizon focuses on developments now and in the future. The stories in text format are available by scrolling down this page.
Enid News & Eagle's 2012 On the Horizon edition concludes with the role of community service.
Click HERE for text version of the stories.
Click HERE for pdf version of the edition.
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Doing their part for the community
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Sorting out the service
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Learning the language
Volunteers at Emmanuel Baptist Church stepped up to fill that gap with free ESL instruction last January, and now they have hopes of expanding the program to better serve the community.
Each Wednesday after school, church members pick up students — there are 23 in this year’s group — and take them to the church building for a snack, some fun and plenty of homework help.
- More Progress 2012 Headlines
- 2012 ON THE HORIZON