Luz Saavedra sensed the call of God on her life when she was just 15 years old. “I could see clearly the moment God called me to the ministry,” she says. In that moment she was overwhelmed by the great need for workers in God’s kingdom and committed to being one of them.
Saavedra was not raised in a Christian home but asked Jesus into her heart on a visit to her grandmother’s at the age of 11. A few years later, after dedicating herself to serving God, she began to prepare for ministry by attending a local bible school in Monterey, Mexico. Her plan to work full time for God was delayed by marriage and starting a family, but in 1979 at age 22 she took on her first pastorate as an ordained Assemblies of God minister in Chihuahua, Mexico.
“We were there for about eight or nine years,” she says, “and God moved in extraordinary ways.”
But it was also hard because the people were needy and the church was not growing as Saavedra hoped it would. Finally she flew to Las Vegas to stay with a family she knew there and seek God about her situation. As the plane was descending, she heard His voice in her heart saying, “This is the city where you will lift up My work.”
In 1996, she and her family returned to Las Vegas to start a church. They began in a home with just a few relatives but quickly added to their numbers through cell groups. “From the beginning it was difficult – without friends, without knowing the city, without work, without the language, without the help of any organization,” Saavedra says.
Yet today, Centro Evangelistico Palabra Viva is one of the largest Hispanic Churches in Nevada, with 1,300 members and 910 cell groups. Senior pastor Saavedra recently completed the purchase of a multi-million-dollar complex to further expand the church’s influence. Her goal is to bring not just revival but also reformation to a place known as “Sin City” and “The Entertainment Capital of the World”
Luz Saavedra is senior pastor
of Centro Evangelistico
Las Vegas, NV