Called to Serve

Rev. Emilio A. Reyes: A passion for God's Word

Rev. Emilio A. Reyes stands with former Yankee Bernie Williams, who was honored for promoting the Bible in Hispanic America. Photo by David Singer

The Rev. Emilio A. Reyes is vice president for Hispanic/Latino Ministries at the American Bible Society. Despite his long commute — he travels regularly to New York from Florida — he is thankful for work that lets him express his passion for God's Word.

Q: Do you have your own church or congregation?

A: I serve as pro bono pastor at a small Hispanic congregation in Florida. It helps me to keep grounded in Christ and close to the people God has called me to serve.

Q: You also serve as vice president for Hispanic/Latino Ministries. Is there a special relationship between the American Bible Society and this population?

A: The American Bible Society has always tried to reach all peoples in the world, including Latin America and the Caribbean. Just three years after the founding of the organization, in 1819, a Spanish-language New Testament was published. This was instrumental in the establishment of churches throughout the Spanish-speaking world. More recently, the American Bible Society sponsored two of the most widely used translations: the Reina-Valera 1960 and Dios Habla Hoy.

The growth of the Latino community has been steady since the 1970s. Today there are about 40 million Spanish-speaking persons in the U.S., more than the number of people in all of Central America. This makes the U.S. the fifth largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, providing the American Bible Society with a wonderful opportunity for Bible ministry.

Q: How will you reach the Hispanic community in 2008?

A: We have two initiatives. Lectio Divina gives training to the Catholic faithful on the use of the Bible in their prayer life. We have partnered with Fundación Pané, and together we are visiting parishes in Los Angeles, Miami and New York City, among other places.

We also have our advocacy program, La Biblia Es Mi Guía (The Bible Is My Guide). When it comes to Bible reading, the Latino community is no different. Many don't read the Bible because they don't understand it, or because they think its message is irrelevant. I'm a firm believer that if people really knew what the Bible has to offer, they would read it. In order to promote Bible reading, we have partnered with several spokespersons, including Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, and Father Alberto Cutié , a priest and well-known personality within the Hispanic community. They tell people that they have a passion, but that the Bible is their guide. This should encourage people in the community to read the Bible, as it will provide direction for their lives.

Q: Do you have a favorite Bible verse to inspire you?

A: I have two key verses that speak to my heart. The first is Psalm 37.5, which says: “Give yourself to the lord; trust in him, and he will help you.” I try to literally offer myself to God on a daily basis. I seek his guidance in what I do. I don't want to be busy just for the sake of being busy. I want to be involved where he is involved. The second verse is 1 Timothy 1.12: “I thank Christ Jesus our LORD who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” God has called me to serve, and that is exactly what I want to do with my life.

Q: What should we know about the essential Emilio Reyes?

A: I want to be faithful to God. I want to include him in all that I do. I seek to have balance in my life by growing spiritually, mentally, socially and physically. That's a tall order!

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