By Stan Friedman
COMPTON, CA (January 9, 2012) – A ministerial student at Centro Hispano de Estudios Teologicos (CHET) says his training at the Spanish-speaking school enabled him to effectively minister in India during a recent mission trip.
Melvin Ardon was invited by a minister from Nagaland in northeast India to preach at a prison and then at a Baptist church convention that drew 1,000 people to a remote area in a jungle.
Ardon had little ministerial training before he started attending CHET in 2007, but had preached in Africa, the United States, and Central America. “When I was in Africa and saw the miracles the Lord did, I felt so ashamed to know that I was not prepared for this type of ministry,” Ardon says. “I felt like I was robbing people of the greater things that God want to do in their lives through me because I had no formal Bible training.”
He eventually discovered CHET, the Covenant’s Hispanic training center. “I have learned about the passion to minister with love, justice, and compassion,” Ardon says. “I have learned to interact with people from other denominations, and I even co-teach a pre-ministerial class with a Catholic lady at CHET.”
A pastor from India, Apise Sangtam, invited Ardon to speak in that country. They had met several years earlier while Sangtam was in the United States.
“I served as pastor Apise’s interpreter for close to three years,” says Ardon. “By God’s grace, he decided to attend our church even though he did not speak Spanish, so I would translate for him and other students from the International Theological Seminary in El Monte, California.
“As other Spanish-speaking churches would invite him to preach, I would drive him and interpret for him as he preached,” Ardon says.
Their relationship led Sangtam to ask Ardon if he would travel to India. “They had never had a foreign speaker in their convention, so it was a great privilege for myself and the team I coordinated,” Ardon says. The six-member team included another former CHET student, Mike Gomez.
Preaching in the prison gave Ardon a chance to share the gospel with people of different religions, including Muslims and Hindi. “Prison ministry is key because when the prisoners leave that place with Christ in their hearts, they go and share the good news to their families,” he says.
Ardon was in for a surprise when he preached at the convention. “As we drove through mountain after mountain, hill after hill, I began to think there was no way anyone in their right mind would make this pilgrimage, so I began to think that a good outcome would probably be our group times two,” he says.
“I was so blown away when we arrived in Yangli to see more than 1,000 young men and women gather in that small village of 20 homes. Their church flags were displayed on their vehicles.”
Ardon says he hopes people will hear his story and realize that their financial contributions to CHET are training ministers that reach far beyond the Hispanic community.
Ed Delgado, the school’s president, noted the sacrifice that students make to attend the school, which is largely supported through donations. Although Ardon can barely afford CHET, he organized the team and also led the effort to raise funds for the trip.
“It was an incredible fundraising feat,” says Delgado. “With the help of family and friends, he sold tamales and pupusas.”
Ardon has been a member of another denomination, but is now strongly considering joining the Covenant. “I’ve seen that the Covenant is a good place to be.”
Melvin Ardon on right