Each week, “Northern Lights,” the news source for the Northern California Conference, tells the stories of members who engage their calling to ministry.
Moises Ramirez grew up in a tough neighborhood. His older brothers got involved in gang activity, and he lost two friends to gun violence during his senior year of high school. He credits the Hayward Spanish church Pathfinder club for keeping his life on track, especially the influence of two young adult brothers who volunteered to work with the kids. “They dedicated so much time and energy, and the young people gravitated toward them,” he said. “They were mentors—positive male role models.”
Ramirez decided he wanted to be that kind of life-changing influence for teens and young adults. After graduating from Pacific Union College with a bachelor’s degree in religion, he now serves as the local-hire associate pastor at the Grand Advent church in Oakland.
Just before the pandemic began, Ramirez and church member Alex Harris started a young adult group at the church called Reveal. Since February, 2020, the group has met together two Sabbaths a month—first outdoors and then via Zoom. “Through Bible study and discussion, we pray that God will reveal Himself to us and also that more of ourselves will be revealed,” he said.
Ramirez also started a young couples ministry for those who are married, engaged, or dating. He and his wife, Nephthali, wed in September.
Currently working on a master’s degree in nonprofit administration, Ramirez emphasizes the importance of trusting young people with significant roles in the church, because if they see they are making a difference, they will want to stay. “The more you are with these young adults, the more you realize how much they care and how much they want to get involved,” he said. “They have the energy, knowledge, resources, and desire. Invite them to the table.”
Each weekday morning before he begins his job as a car repair technician in Roseville, Demetrio Velázquez hosts a live 90-minute radio program.
Listeners tune in from across the United States, Central America, South America, and Europe to hear Velázquez speak, pray, and sing on his Spanish broadcast, “Conociendo más a Jesús [Knowing More About Jesus] con Demetrio Velázquez.” The program airs Monday through Friday from 6:30 to 8 a.m. via the online Tennessee-based radio ministry Plenitud La Radio Adventista. (His wife, Lucy, serves as the ministry’s Sacramento-area coordinator.)
Velázquez used to present his program from home, but when his boss, who is a Christian, learned about the ministry, he provided office space and donated a laptop so Velázquez could broadcast at the workplace.
An elder at the Sacramento Spanish church, Velázquez varies his program to engage the various Spanish-speaking cultures in his audience. “After dinner each evening, I read books and pray to God to lead me and give me what I’m going to talk about the next morning,” he said. “I pray that I can do or say something that will lead people to Jesus.”
Velázquez came to the United States from Mexico when he was a young man. Feeling sinful, he gave his Adventist friends a hard time, saying, “I don’t think you guys are prepared for me to go to church with you. I don’t think you are willing to invite me.” They responded: “You’re welcome to join us! We can give you a ride. We’re brothers.”
During his first visit to church, the music and the preaching impacted him profoundly. “From that day, everything was different,” he said.
Velázquez wants others to have the same life-changing encounter with Jesus. Listen to the program at mixlr.com/plenitud-la-radio-adventista.
By Julie Lorenz