COVID-19 has racked the nation, and Texas’ Rio Grande Valley has been among the hardest hit. Many churches have faced dwindling attendance and giving as members suffer from the pandemic’s effects on their health and livelihood.
Pastor Carlos Navarro, who leads Iglesia Bautista West Brownsville in the border city, has navigated challenges throughout his 28 years as pastor of the Spanish-speaking church. During that time, membership has grown from 65 members to more than 1,800 pre-pandemic. The church has planted 21 churches and helps 5,000 migrant workers and 300 homeless.
Keeping members connected has never been more challenging. Keeping them centered on the Word of God is vitally important.
“Many of our people are struggling,” Navarro said. “It has revived the need to get into learning and memorizing the Bible together.”
Navarro chose La Clave de Josué, the Spanish translation of O.S. Hawkins’ best-selling, The Joshua Code: 52 Scripture Verses Every Believer Should Know, to help make Scripture memory come alive. The books were distributed through Sunday school departments and in other ministries.
Scripture memory is vital to Navarro. While attending Golden Gate Seminary, Navarro learned to study and memorize Scripture.
“I was working as a janitor at JC Penney; it was a part-time job, up to 8 hours per shift, with some downtime, so I started reading my Bible,” Navarro said. “The first time, it took seven months to read it all the way through.”
Subsequent times through, he started memorizing Scripture. A practice he wanted to instill in the church. With the pandemic, it became an ideal time to place additional focus on Scripture memorization.
“I have seen a group of people getting into the details of the Word,” Navarro said. “The book came at the right moment; people have to rely on Bible verses and promises of God more than maybe they ever have.”
Like The Joshua Code, La Clave de Josué includes a Scripture verse to memorize, along with a devotional message to accompany it. There are 52 Scripture verses in all, making it ideal for spending one week with each verse for a whole year.
The Scriptures used in the English and Spanish versions are identical, meaning churches with bilingual congregations can use both books to study the same Scriptures simultaneously, together in their native tongues.
“It’s a jewel,” Navarro said. “Something is happening during this pandemic; people are committing their lives more to the Lord.”
Spiritual growth was the impetus for Hawkins’s desire to write The Joshua Code and see the best-selling book translated into Spanish.
“We know there is something powerful about getting into the Word of God,” Hawkins said. “In Ezekiel 3, though, we see that we are to get the Word into us! Scripture memory has been part of my own journey since my first month as a believer, and I’m so thankful for how the Lord has used that discipline to bless me and others. We want to see other churches bless their people and communities with getting the Word into as many people as possible.”
La Clave de Josué is just one of three Spanish translations of Hawkins’ books currently available.
La Clave de Pascua pairs with the English The Easter Code. Many churches are using the books to invite neighbors within a given radius of the church to the virtual or in-person services during the Lenten season, or giving them to members to give away to their own neighbors and friends, with an invitation to join Lenten or Easter services, online or in-person.
Additionally, La Clave de Navidad, which pairs with the English The Christmas Code, which is used in the same manner as The Easter Code, just during the Advent Season.
A fourth book, La Clave de la Biblia (available May 11, 2021) will pair with the English The Bible Code: Finding Jesus in Every Book in the Bible. This book points to how Jesus can be found in all 66 books of the Bible.
The books can work in bilingual congregations — where both English and Spanish speakers study the same material at the same time — or in churches that speak only English or only Spanish in their regular services.
All four books are available everywhere books are sold; deeply discounted bulk orders can be obtained by contacting ChurchSource.com.
Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations services at GuideStone.