The WTS is gaining more from the Latino community but not holding onto them

by Elsewhere 11 Replies latest jw friends

  • Elsewhere

    The WTS is having a very hard time getting English speaking people to join their ranks, so they are now targeting other language groups. One of the major language groups they are targeting for recruitment is Spanish, basically the Latino community.

    For decades the WTS has had difficulty in areas like India, South America and Africa because the new JW recruits tend to hold onto their old religious rituals and superstitions. Basically the WTS cannot "grip" the people and force them into compliance and pure reverence for the WTS. The people keep thinking for themselves.

    Now the WTS is having the same problem in the US with the Spanish speaking community. Sure, the WTS is getting new recruits, but they are not anywhere near as devout to the WTS as are most English speaking people in the US.

    Pastor holds open doors for Latino community

    Valley churches offer services in Spanish


    Pastor Tito Rivera

    In Spanish, the phrase to describe Pastor Tito Rivera would be "hombre estupendo." This "super man" is simply everywhere. He is the epitome of "Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive."

    A pastor for the interdenominacional Ministerio Vida Abundante, he is currently offering ministries in the Wood River Valley as well as traveling to offer ministries in such far-flung spots as Brazil, Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Ghana, as well as California and Texas.

    "Our ministry is non-denominational. Presbyterian, Baptist, Catholic, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness. They find me somehow. It's my ministry and my passion. Passion for God, that's what you need. I'm here mostly for the Latin American community. That's why I believe God called us five years ago."

    Born in Puerto Rico, Rivera and his wife, Dartha, moved to the valley in 2000 at the behest of the Valley Christian Fellowship (now The Life Church) in Hailey. He said he met the former pastor of Valley Christian on a trip in Africa.

    "He said, 'Tito, we need your help. We need a Hispanic minister (in the Wood River Valley).' I came and prayed. After six months we agreed and came here."

    The Riveras weren't looking to move from their home in Lander, Wyo. Life was going pretty well, after all. The Riveras, whose family includes three grown children and three grandchildren, had a ministry for Lander's Latino community, ran a successful business and owned a ranch with Morgan horses.

    "We had a life there, but it was not just my decision, but my wife's," he said.

    They spent three years building up a Latino congregation at Valley Christian before moving on to new challenges. Because he speaks Portuguese as well as Spanish, he conducts services in both languages.

    Today, Rivera preaches to an enthusiastic and multi-cultural Latino community at two locales: La Capilla in Hailey and Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum. "Ministerio Vida Abundante," or Abundant Life Ministry, is a nonprofit organization run by Rivera and his wife. They hope to open a second-hand store this year to help support the ministries.

    "Some Brazilians told me, 'We need a church where we can praise God.' Pastor Bob (Henley) asked if I'd like to start a ministry there. I told him I think we can start a congregation."

    On any given Wednesday at the Church of the Big Wood, 20 to 25 people attend his service, including natives of Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Brazil, Romania, Mexico and France. They also play soccer together on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The same group also meets at the home of a Brazilian on Tuesday and Sunday mornings.

    Glauber Rangel, 32, from Brazil, has worked for Sun Valley Co. since 2001. His wife and two children remain in Brazil, although his wife is coming to the valley soon to work through the winter. Because it's during his children's school vacation, they will stay with his wife's mother in Brazil. Rangel has gone to Rivera's services at Big Wood since he started in 2003.

    "Most of the people are Brazilians," Rangel said. "That's what I say to the guys, (when they ask) why is the church doing that? Open church for us? It's not just to teach religion. It's God and love of Jesus. We are far from home. People alone can be here, working, making friends, learning about Christ. We're together, family. There are a lot of bad things to find like drugs. Right now they can find good things. That's why the church opens the doors. So people can find good things. They don't have to be drunk to be happy."

    Rivera brings many of his loves and abilities to his ministries. He's a surfer and ministers to surfers in Puerto Rico, where his family still lives. He also used to be a ski instructor at Ski Apache in New Mexico where they lived.

    "We like to have fun. God wants us to be happy. God doesn't want you to stress out," Rivera added with a huge, sunny smile. His personal charm and friendliness is immediately welcoming.

    "I believe God has called me to be an apostle, like Paul. That's what he did. This is the third church I've opened in the valley. This is what I do best."

    As an ideal, Rivera has chosen well. St. Paul is regarded as the founder of Christianity and journeyed afar to open churches.

    Known as "Father Tito" in the community, Rivera also is asked to officiate at weddings, funerals and memorial services. He works with Stuart Sonnenland and Young Life and travels with students to help build houses in Mexico each year. Two days a week he preaches at the Blaine County Jail, another of the ministries he initiated. As well. Rivera is on call on a rotating basis with the valley's other clergy at St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center. One of his other pet projects is their annual spring soccer tournament at Atkinson Park in Ketchum, held for the children of the Hispanic Latin American community.

    "Everyone is welcome," Rivera said. "We had about 13 nationalities last year, playing on 12 teams. There are 450 families involved. We have five piñatas and we do one every hour."

    Rivera and his wife bought a home in The Meadows neighborhood south of Ketchum. They continue to run their successful businesses, Sun Valley Window Cleaning in Ketchum and Wind River Window Cleaning in Lander.

    "We believe it's all good," he said. "We tithe at all the churches but God provides."

    This year, Rivera is looking forward to more missionary work in the Philippines, Thailand and China. Last year they went to Jerusalem, but that was a vacation.

    "We had a great time," he admitted, grinning. "I'm invited to all kind of churches. I'm in love with Africa. I can't wait to go back. This is what I do best. It's going and it just keeps growing."



    · Iglesia Latino Americana del Big Wood, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the River Room Chapel; worship in Spanish and Portuguese. All ages and languages are welcome. Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood, in Ketchum.

    · Services en Español, en "La Capilla" los Domingos a las 11:30 a.m. de la Mañana. Localisada entre la calle, Woodside y Esquina Wintergreen, in Hailey. Informacion: Ministerio vida abundante, 720-0820.

    For more information, contact Pastor Tito or Dartha Rivera at 726-8994 or 481-0671.

    Other services in Spanish:

    · St. Charles Catholic Church, Saturday Spanish Mass 7:30 p.m.

    · The Life Church, Sunday Spanish services, noon with Pastor Rudy Chavez. 406 Main St. Hailey.

    · Bellevue Community Church, Sunday, Bilingual, Worship 10:30 a.m., Iglesia Bautista el Valle Hermoso, 307 Cedar St. Bellevue.

  • Seeker4

    Can someone tell us if there are similar sites like this one in Spanish? How active are they? Are there any here from the US Spanish speaking congregations? Thanks.


  • Mastodon

    I'm from Puerto Rico and the fact that the WT can convert many latinos but not keep them for long is due to 2 main reasons:
    1. We're gullible
    2. We're a lazy bunch .... :D

    As far as boards like this in Spanish, I haven't been able to find one. If I had the time and resources I would start one.

  • wednesday

    I have wondered what could be done to aid those who speak spanish. (this sounds a little like going where the need is greater service meeting

    Are there any xjws boards for spanish or other languages? Since I only speak english, (and can barely spell, lol) so I don't go looking for anything other than english.

    I imagine many of the spanish bros also have internet acess and would be so glad to talk ot others about concerns.

    How can we help?


  • Soledad

    I attended Spanish speaking congregations as an active witness.

    The only other ex-jw board in Spanish that I know of is on

    Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to start a Latino Ex-Jw website!

    2. We're a lazy bunch .... :D
    LOL too true!
  • M.J.

    literally, ""

    spanish speaking JWs are every bit as zealous, if not more so, than their english congregation counterparts from what I've seen.

    I get spooky images of the Al Pacino scarface-like expression as they pronounce "cristiandAAD".

  • blindersoff
    spanish speaking JWs are every bit as zealous, if not more so, than their english congregation counterparts from what I've seen.

    I agree


  • Billygoat
    2. We're a lazy bunch .... :D

    Why is this? Is it a cultural thing? I grew up in an Asian household and predominantly Asian community. Being relaxed and lazy (even on Sunday afternoons!) was never acceptable. There was always something to do or study for or someone to visit with. Why is the Latin culture so different than the Asian culture?

  • metatron

    I think that Latino Witnesses are pretty zealous - but in my Bethel days, we developed a theory about distance and separation

    from Bethel. The further away from Brooklyn you got, and the more language/cultural barriers you threw in the way, the weirder

    congregations got. I once asked a Gilead missionary what was the most 'way out' disfellowshipping he encountered in his congregation.

    He replied "machete murder and bestiality". I noticed the same thing with a Gilead missionary I knew in New Guinea. He said he knew

    about brothers in Australia who excused fornication if they felt the brother had been "bewitched" or put under a spell(!!)

    One factor working against the Watchtower is that birth rates in these nations is falling - and that will limit growth. Another factor

    working against the Watchtower everywhere is their pig-headed attitude against being "social". They are so fanatically devoted to

    their sterile lifestyle of peddling magazines and dragging themselves to meetings, that they fail to give people the emotional support

    they need. In addition, they seem to be tearing down what little infrastructure of support their subculture has had - no food service

    at assemblies, no subscriptions, and Brooklyn downsized for the barest of economic reasons. They're going in the wrong direction,

    for long term growth.


  • slugga

    Can I ask a question? We don't have separate language meetings in the UK so I'm not familiar with how they work. If a Spanish publisher went out on service and found an interested English speaking person and started a study would that publisher hand the study over to someone on the English side so that they could attend the English meetings?

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