Turns out there was a silver lining when a nationally acclaimed speaker was unable to show for a large conference in Sunnyside earlier this month.
Roberto Matus said Ed Silvoso was scheduled to speak on the first night of the conference, Aug. 1, held at Sunnyside High School's auditorium. Unfortunately, Silvoso's flight from Seattle to Yakima had been canceled and Transformation Sunnyside members learned that the night of the conference.
"Unbeknownst to everyone, (Silvoso's) guest speaker, Pastor Eduardo Lorenzo, was already at the conference," said Matus.
He said the surprise of Lorenzo's presence was a blessing to the group. He said the Argentinean pastor provided those in attendance with insight regarding expectations.
Matus was impressed with Lorenzo for his ability to engage the audience. "He didn't stand at the podium, but was with the people," he commented.
He said Lorenzo taught him to invite audience engagement and though the speech was translated to English from its original Spanish format, the basic message was communicated.
Matus said Lorenzo taught those at the conference there are also different ways in which to engage a church body, reaching those who are "unchurched ...those considered lost."
He said he had a personal conversation with Lorenzo and learned the pastor has a church of more than 2,500 members. That church has a number of buildings utilized for worship, prayer and education.
"The building where meetings are held is not referred to the church, but it is called 'the cave'," Matus shared.
He said he learned the reason Lorenzo's church refers to the building as the cave is because of psalmist King David, who encountered God in a cave before going into battle.
King David was also inspired to write his psalms while in the cave.
"We go to church to have our own encounters with God, on a weekly basis, before going into the world," said Matus, stating looking at the church as a cave of modern day is an avenue in which modern day believers can relate with King David.
Matus added he was impressed with the perspective of the church as not a building, but the people who are called to their own great commission.
The great commission for Transformation Sunnyside is the great commission Jesus provided. Believers are called not to just reach individuals, but communities and the nation, according to Matus.
"Jesus promised (in the great commission) He would be with us until the end of the world, pre-empting our fears," said Matus.
He said believers may be fearful of encountering rejection, objections and obstacles that are seemingly impossible. "Jesus was essentially saying (again) 'Fear not, I am with you,' addressing fears," Matus explained. He stated Jesus knew beforehand what fears those who believe in Him would encounter.
Matus said more than half of those in attendance at the conference had not heard Silvoso before.
There were individuals from Oregon and Idaho present at the conference and a Pakistani-American even attended the conference. "This impresses upon (Transformation Sunnyside) how we can reach out to others of all cultures," said Matus.
He said those at the conference were further provided a vision for the future of the community. Silvoso arrived and was able to help provide perspective in that it will take approximately five years for the group to become a model for other communities.
Matus said Transformation Sunnyside is not a new endeavor, however. He said there have been several churches in the community with a vision for transformation. Those churches have been working individually for nearly 20 years toward providing change within the community.
"Now we are building on that, working together," said Matus.
He stated one of the goals of the churches has always included unity in the community.
Because the churches were working separately, Matus stated none was able to create a workable plan in spite of their best efforts.
Working together, he said, the groups are better enabled to see their vision become a reality.
"I believe God is directing those of faith to get rid of absolutes," said Matus. He explained, stating absolutes divide Christians. By working together, ridding themselves of the banners of doctrine and unifying, those involved in the vision of transforming the community are able to accomplish more.
"God is using us (Transformation Sunnyside) as human instruments to accomplish His plan," Matus emphasized.