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Perham church goes bilingual to share its message

Trisha Marczak/FOCUS The Revs. Regulo Lopez (left) and Dirk Currier work together to provide Spanish services at Northwoods Assembly for the local Hispanic community.

If teaching Spanish is what it takes to spread the Gospel, the folks at Northwoods Assembly in Perham are willing to do it.

For the past five years, the Rev. Regulo Lopez has pastored a Sunday afternoon Spanish service, providing area Hispanic residents with a place to worship and learn.

"It's a privilege to share the Gospel," Lopez said. "It's a great responsibility, and I've seen some nice, wonderful things happening."

Lopez first began developing relationships with the Hispanic community through outreach events in area trailer parks. After seeing the growing number of residents who struggled with English, he felt they needed a place where they could comfortably take in Biblical messages.

On any given Sunday, anywhere from 40 to 70 people are present at the Spanish services, with many people attending during short stays in Perham.

After the afternoon services, the church also hosts a meal, providing a time for residents to join together in fellowship. On Thursday afternoons, they meet for a Spanish Bible study.

The Rev. Dirk Currier, senior pastor at the church, said he and those within the church have embraced the idea of a bilingual church, as it allows them to reach out to a greater audience.

"We share the good news," he said. "It's a message we have been asked to share, not keep."

Once a year, those who attend the Spanish services gather for a celebration. Lopez brings in speakers from around the country, who help give church members encouragement.

The church in general is no stranger to diversity. Flags decorating the walls of the sanctuary represent various countries of current and past church members. The church has also led mission trips around the world, including a few to Mexico.

The congregation even supports a former church member, who returned to Mexico to pastor a church after living in Perham. Every month, church members send him funds to keep it going.

"Our congregation is very flexible," Currier said.

At times, the church has even hosted Bilingual services in both Portuguese and Spanish. They also have an American Sign Language specialist on hand for interpretation.

It's that out-of-the-box thinking that tends to stir curiosity among those who hear about it. And that's exactly what Currier is going for.

"If you're going to go fishing, you need the right bait," he said.

That mentality has done more than challenge the church to expand its languages. It's also brought in speakers such as Hookers for Jesus founder Annie Lobert, who found Christ after years as a professional escort. To reach the cowboy types, the church hosts barnyard services outside of Detroit Lakes with an "old time" style theme, rather than a contemporary one.

No matter what group of people needs to be reached, Currier and his group at Northwoods are willing to switch things up and cater to cultures. And while the service may sound or look a little different depending on the setting, there is one thing that doesn't change: the Gospel messages.