A multicultural corps encompassing English, Hispanic and Russian congregations, the Des Plaines, Ill., Corps Hispanic congregation is the fastest growing and the largest of the three with 150 members. They recently enrolled 14 senior soldiers and one junior soldier in a united worship service.
Welcoming people into the corps and helping them discover the joy of salvation and the blessing of service is key. Soldiership is highly valued and encouraged by Envoys Alberto and Ody Giraldo, who lead the Hispanic ministry at the corps. Soldiership classes are taught twice a year, and often whole families attend them and are enrolled together. Four families were represented in the last enrollment.
The Giraldos attribute the ongoing growth to a strong focus on God’s plan for family and community. Envoy Ody is intentional about inviting food pantry recipients to worship, and members of the congregation regularly invite their families, friends and neighbors to services as well. Envoy Alberto is known in the Hispanic community as someone to go to for marriage counseling, which also has led to families coming into the corps.
“The Giraldos have a very strong pastoral ministry,” said Captain D.J. James, Des Plaines corps officer. “They are always there to counsel and pray with people.”
The envoys encourage soldiers to participate in ministry based on their giftedness. Each person’s gifts are valued and seen as important to the overall ministry and building God’s Kingdom. And with a very full schedule of activities, everyone is needed!
“People tell me, ‘Oh no, I can’t do that,’” said Envoy Ody. “But I encourage them to try, and then they find out they can do it, and they like doing it.”
There are separate ministries for each member of the family, such as character-building (combined with the English congregation) for children, teen worship and women’s and men’s ministries. Once a month the men and women meet together as couples to strengthen their relationships, and families are encouraged to sit and worship together during Sunday services. The ministry’s sacred dance troupe—yet another of the options for ministry—participates in holiday worship services and events such as united services with the other congregations and summer outreaches that are held in tandem
with Sunday afternoon family picnic lunches.
“Everything we do helps to unite families, and that builds the Church,” said Envoy Alberto.
As individuals and as a congregation, the Des Plaines Hispanic ministry is growing in the Lord and growing stronger together.