By Frances Townsend
One joy of the first day of Annual Conference business is the time when new fellowships and congregations are introduced. This year, Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, introduced one new group. Rios de Agua Viva (Rivers of Living Water) is a fellowship in Leicester, N.C., started by pastor Mario Martinez and his wife, Evelyn. They have been working since Sept. 2013 and were granted fellowship status in 2014 by Southeastern District.
Rios de Agua Viva has been reaching out particularly to the Hispanic residents of their community, who come from many countries ranging from Cuba to Chile. They began meeting in a community center, but turned to working in the community and from home, as the center was costly to rent and required months of advance payment.
Interviewed after their introduction to the Conference, Evelyn Martinez said their work of bringing the gospel has been challenging in many ways but it has been a faith strengthening journey. “The Lord has taught us not to fear,” she said. “Every time we’ve had a trial, the Lord has given us a word.”
She said that many people who are not currently part of the fellowship have been reached and blessed by the ministry, souls have been saved, and seeds of faith planted. She spoke of their evangelistic work with both hope and a sense of mission as she said, “You can’t see the world get darker and darker and the church keep silent.”
-- Frances Townsend is a member of the volunteer news team for Annual Conference. She pastors Onekama (Mich.) Church of the Brethren.