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Nueva Esperanza | Pastor Grant Hedges

When Nueva Esperanza, a Spanish-speaking Assemblies of God church that meets in a Methodist church in West St. Paul, found themselves without a pastor for the first time in many years, Emmanuel Christian Center sent a team of 30 people with Pastor Adrian Falgetelli to help the church through the transition. One of those volunteers was Grant Hedges.

Grant had a background in youth ministry and was drawn toward ministering to the teens at the church. On Sunday mornings, he would lead a time of teaching specifically for teens, something that hadn’t happened in years. Often the teens would have their own follow-up meeting to discuss the teaching; they hoped someone like Grant would pastor the church.

Pastoring the church was the farthest thing from Grant’s mind at the time, but in May 2018 he was asked to fill the pastorate. He accepted and started in August 2018 with a clear vision for the church. He considered it similar to planting a church, as the church would need to move into a time of rebuilding.

A large part of that vision was to take intentional steps to reach Hispanic people in their community. That meant making Sunday services bilingual in order to minister to multiple generations, and that new approach resonated with the entire congregation, especially the youth. God was beginning to stir the hearts of two young people in particular, a brother and sister who grew up in the church. At the time, Brandon and Brittany had no idea how God would use them to bring a ministry for teens to life at Nueva Esperanza.

Two months later in October 2018, Grant brought Brittany, Brandon, and a group of teens to Minnesota Youth Convention in Rochester. It was the final service and Bryan Jarrett called students to the altars in response to the message. Brittany came forward, was baptized in the Holy Spirit, and felt the Lord telling her He was going to use her in youth ministry. At the same time, an unknown girl next to her prayed for her and said God was going to use Brittany to lead thousands of youth to Christ, a word that resonates in her heart just as strongly today.

That night was the catalyst for Brittany and Brandon to step into leadership roles in the youth group of Nueva Esperanza. Pastor Grant encouraged Brittany to start singing, and she started taking piano lessons. Soon she was leading worship in youth group and was part of the worship team on Sundays. Brandon, 19, started seeking God more, and was influential in seeing friends come to Jesus. Now he serves as a leader in youth group and in tech ministry on Sundays as well.

In just eighteen months, the youth group has changed dramatically. More teens are hearing about the newly formed youth group, checking it out for themselves, and getting saved.

Brittany, 18, is now in her senior year at Henry Sibley High School. She sees a community of broken teens who need to know Jesus. As she looks at the pews in church she says, “I believe that one day all of these seats will be filled by students.” There’s excitement about what God is doing, and like the name of the church, a new hope for what will happen next. The best is yet to come!