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2009 Conversations


Sara Groves
12.21.08

Keith and Kristyn Getty
12.14.08

Jesse Miranda
11.30.08

Heather Bland
11.23.08

Cathleen Lewis
11.16.08

Robert Leathers
11.9.08

Ravi Zacharias
10.26.08

Scotty Gibbons
10.19.08

George O. Wood
9.28.08

George O. Wood
9.21.08

G. Robert Cook Jr.
9.14.08

Michelle LaRowe Conover
8.31.08

Janet Boynes
8.24.08

Kirk Cameron
8.17.08

Laura Wilkinson
8.10.08

Melody Rossi
7.27.08

Randy Travis
7.20.08

Maylo Upton-Aames
7.13.08

Chuck Norris
6.29.08

Francis Xavier 'Chip' Flaherty Jr.
6.22.08

Ben Carson
6.15.08

Robert H. Spence
6.8.08

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser
5.25.08

R. Albert Mohler Jr.
5.18.08

James K. Bridges
5.11.08

Manny Mill
4.27.08

Brock Gill
4.20.08

Robert Burt
4.13.08

Gerry Hindy
3.30.08

J.I. Packer
3.23.08

Stanley Horton
3.16.08

Linda Mintle
3.9.08

Joanna Weaver
2.24.08

Buck Taylor
2.17.08

Debra Risner
2.10.08

Bill Glass
1.27.08

Edward Gilbreath
1.20.08

Rob Seagears and Andy Casper
1.13.08


2007 Conversations


2006 Conversations


Conversation: Jesse Miranda

Living out faith in culture

For decades, Jesse Miranda Jr. has been a mover and shaker not only in Assemblies of God circles but also among U.S. Hispanic Protestants. Saluted as “the granddaddy of U.S. Latino Protestantism” by Christianity Today, Miranda is the founding president of the multidenominational Alianza de Ministerios Evangélicos Nacionales (AMEN), chief executive officer of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, an AG executive presbyter, founder of the Latino American Theological Seminary, distinguished professor and director of the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership at Vanguard University, and past chairman of the AG Commission on Ethnicity. He received his bachelor’s degree from Vanguard, master’s degrees from Biola and Fullerton universities, and a doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Miranda, 71, grew up in Albuquerque, N.M., the son of a Mexican lumber mill worker and Spanish-descent mother with a third-grade education. With his irenic spirit, Miranda is widely regarded as the driving force behind uniting disparate U.S. Hispanic evangelicals on issues such as theological education, social ethics and racial reconciliation. He recently sat down for an interview with TPE News Editor John W. Kennedy.

tpe: According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, the Assemblies of God has the highest percentage of Latinos (19 percent) among Protestant groups. Why?

MIRANDA: Hispanics have a long history of established relationships and trust. The first AG Hispanic church dates to 1916, two years after the Fellowship started. The second and third generations have been consistent and continue to grow. Immigration has a lot to do with this, bringing a ripe harvest of souls and believers with the Pentecostal fire from Latin America.

tpe: Why do some people feel threatened by immigration?

MIRANDA: I don’t know for sure. This is a sensitive and complex issue. Employers continue to recruit immigrants, while citizens suffer from historical amnesia and difficulty dealing with the stranger. We forget we are all immigrants, except for Native Americans.

I’m leery when the feelings of Christians come from a nationalistic, political and legal slant rather than from the Bible. God told the people of Israel, “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19, NRSV). The Deuteronomy covenant (Deuteronomy 24:17-22, Isaiah 56) is still in force. Jesus summarizes the Ten Commandments as loving God and loving neighbors.

tpe: Hispanics are seen by many as a monolith. But you’ve found a wide range of agendas, worship styles and theological emphases among different strands of Hispanics.

MIRANDA: Diversity among Hispanics is a reality. I became aware of it during an airport delay in the 1970s. A woman spoke to me with a Spanish accent. She happened to be Cuban. She had come to the U.S. 10 years earlier. I asked, “What do you love about the United States?” She gave a long list. “What don’t you like?” I asked. She said, “I do not like to be called Mexican.”

At the time, AG pastors on the West Coast would routinely say, “We Mexicans” when referring to Hispanics. I told our pastors we needed to change our vocabulary.

Most Hispanics want to be identified by where they’re from: “I’m Colombian.” “I’m Salvadoran.” “I’m Cuban.” There are 24 Hispanic nationalities. We come in all colors, yet we’re able to function together in Christ.

tpe: What is the biggest need among U.S. Hispanic AG constituents?

MIRANDA: Leadership development and theological education. As Hispanics are growing in number, I’m concerned that quantity doesn’t always translate into quality. There is a great need right now for discipleship and leadership to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

tpe: Why is education vital for the growth of the church?

MIRANDA: Knowledge is power, power to grow the church. Pentecostals should not turn away from critical analysis and study. Nor should we solely focus on experience and emotion.

I grew up Pentecostal and have strived to maintain a balance. When I was 8 years old my mother got up from praying at the altar after a service. She said, “Son, I want you to be an educated man when you grow up.” Only one person in our church had more than a high school education — and he was sprawled on the floor before the Lord. I learned that a complete person should have a combination of a heart ablaze and a mind on fire.

Education needs to be integrated into our spirituality. Perhaps we, as Pentecostals, have focused too much on initial evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit rather than substantive evidence. I believe it’s not either/or but both. I’m excited that we’re in a time when Hispanics have a great challenge to live up to the type of leadership — spiritual and academic — that General Superintendent George O. Wood is providing for us.

tpe: You’re seen as a bridge builder among various ethnic, generational, denominational and political entities. Why do Christians have such a tough time getting along?

MIRANDA: Because we don’t understand our own human nature. We look for differences in others rather than what we have in common. We need to go beyond nationality, color and income. Our culture of individualism feeds into selfishness. Jesus called us to die to ourselves.

tpe: What is the biggest overall need for the growth of the church today?

MIRANDA: The biggest need is to recapture our missional identity as a church, to become an alternative society in a tenuous and dangerous period in our history. To be the conscience of our economic and political systems according to Scripture. We need to redefine what it means to be a Pentecostal today. As Christians, we need to reform our uncivil image, real or perceived. We are perceived as antagonistic and judgmental.

Many believers are trying to make heaven here on earth — by finding a comfort level they never knew before. Like the Early Church, we need to be counterculture. The church should be what it wants society to become: a people ready for His return, ready to live under the reign of Christ and of the kingdom of God.

E-mail your comments to tpe@ag.org.

 

 

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