*This story was reported through the Vital Signs dashboard.
Maria Mendoza comes on the first weekend of the month to clean the Bowman United Methodist Church. She has also been faithfully reading Pastor Ray Sherwood’s sermons. Maria, who speaks only Spanish, receives a printed copy of the sermon in Spanish each week.
Bowman, North Dakota has a population of 1,700 and some Hispanic citizens. What brings them to Bowman, North Dakota? Oil and work. Many people come to work in the Bakken Oil fields or do agriculture work with the ranchers and farmers in the area. Maria’s family came this way from Idaho when the oil rush hit.
Her husband Isaac is in the construction business. Rev. Ray Sherwood, who serves Bowman UMC, said Maria asked one day if she could come to service at Bowman UMC, after a long conversation with Brenda, Pastor Ray’s wife.
“She is a super nice lady. Maria and Isaac go to the Assembly of God Church in town. But there isn’t any specific Hispanic ministry in town,” said Pastor Ray. “I thought, how can I make them feel connected? So, after I completed my sermon, I translated it into Spanish. I called the ushers and told them—Listen we are going to have Hispanic guests in church tomorrow. I have 10 printed copies of my sermon in Spanish available, please distribute them.”
Maria came by herself to the service that Sunday. She left behind her husband, Isaac and four adult children.
“I asked her when she came to clean the church, did you get my message in Spanish? She said, 'Yes, thank you so much,'” Pastor Ray said.
Maria has not been back since that Sunday. Her husband, Isaac and brother, Hosea are remodeling the kitchen in the parsonage. So when Maria wasn’t there the second Sunday for service, Pastor Ray gave the copy of the sermon in Spanish to Isaac.
“It is really nice you are able to do that,” Isaac told Pastor Ray. Every Sunday, Pastor Ray places five copies of the sermon in Spanish in the back of the church. “I am going to continue to do that,” Ray said. “I know at least one of them is going to Maria.” This past Monday, Isaac returned to the parsonage after work. “I left the sermon here, can you get it for me so Maria can have it,” said Isaac.
Pastor Ray describes the presence and connection between the church and Maria and Isaac as a spiritual awakening. “Rather they come back to worship or not is not important. We have a lot of Hispanic people in town. Churches have shied away from helping them. This is not something that happens overnight; it is just a start. We hope to reach out to them. We will see what happens. God is kind of leading in that direction. If God is in it, it is going to work out some way and somehow. Even in southwest North Dakota, there are still people that need to be reached out to.”
Bowman United Methodist Church has average weekly worship of around 60. The church administrative council is beginning to look at ways to reach out to the Hispanic community. Perhaps the church could be used not only on Sunday morning but Sunday afternoon also for a Hispanic ministry or service?
Pastor Ray says, “We have to take a faith-based risk. We have been sitting on our hands waiting for ministry to come to us. This is about us reaching our neighbors. We just plant the seeds and God makes the harvest. This is amazing, how God is blessing the church.”
Do you wonder who might be in your community that your church could reach out to? Use the tool Mission InSite. This tool provides unlimited acces to a wealth of information about the mission field in your community. For help using this tool or to request a customized report, contact the Director of Ministries Office, by e-mail or phone 605-990-7791. Click here for information on how to get started. If you would like to learn more watch a video about Mission InSite here.