Dressed in their black suits decorated with silver bars and holding their instruments, 13 men filed onto the church platform and began to play. The sound was traditional, happy, with a Christian message. These men make up the Oregon Adventist Mariachi Band, the first Adventist mariachi band in the United States. Their mission is to welcome guests to evangelistic meetings with music.
The band was the brain child of Isaias Hernandez and was organized in the Milwaukie Spanish Church in 2003, when Hernandez was the pastor there. It started with five men, and as word got around, others joined. To be complete, the band needed another violin player, a trumpet player and a person who could play the vihuela, a small guitar-shaped instrument. The group prayed that people would be found to enhance their music ministry and the sound of their band.
Two weeks later, five men from Chiapas, Mexico, who heard about the band, came to the Woodburn Church. They were Adventists, Mariachi musicians and could play the instruments that were needed. The band now has 13 members and two young singers. Their music ministry is to help win people for Jesus.