By Vanessa Alarcón – Greeley, Colorado … The Rocky Mountain Conference Hispanic churches are in shock and disbelief as well-known and beloved youth leader, Abner Escobar Portillo, died unexpectedly in a car accident on July 4.

Abner had served in various ministries in RMC since arriving in Colorado when he was 16. He founded the RMC Hispanic Youth Federation, FEJA, 20 years ago with a vision for having a youth federation led by volunteer youth leaders from across the region that would provide ongoing spiritual and social activities. FEJA quickly became the main source for youth programming for  the Hispanic churches in the Rocky Mountain Conference, from youth retreats to sports tournaments.

“He set his life aside to serve,” Jorge Alemán, former FEJA president, remembers. “He fully owned his calling to serve the youth of this conference and kept all of us leaders accountable.”

Abner had a heart for young adults that longtime ministry collaborator with FEJA and Pathfinders, Nancy Quiñonez, had never seen in anyone else. “Abner always tried his best to talk to as many young people as he could at all youth events. He wanted to make sure they felt welcomed.”

After serving as FEJA president for nine years Abner became a Master Guide and Pathfinder area coordinator.

“His personality and charismatic leadership allowed him to have a positive intergenerational influence, from children to adults. His leadership wasn’t only effective in his local church, but transcended to the whole Latino Adventist community,” Rubén Rivera, RMC Hispanic coordinator commented.

It was evident that Abner’s ministry influenced many lives by the tributes written on social media.

“He was at almost every single [youth event] devoting time and energy into all of us in such a positive way,” Liz Cabriales, Newday church member, wrote.

Abner‘s funeral service was held July 7 in Chihuahua, Mexico. His memorial service will be held at LifeSource Adventist Fellowship in Denver on July 31 at 4:00 p.m.

He is survived by his wife, Gisela, and two children, Belinda, age 9, and Azael, age 2.

The Greeley Hispanic Seventh-Day Adventist Church is collecting funds to help support Abner’s wife and children. To contribute to the memorial fund, please mail donations to:

Greeley Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church
PO Box 310
Greeley CO 80632-0310
Please mark donations: Abner Escobar’s memorial fund.

–Vanessa E. Alarcón is the former FEJA communications director; photo by Rubén Rivera.