Tirso Escandón Hernández was a pastor and administrator from Colombia.
Tirso Escandón Hernández was born in Utica, Colombia, on May 22, 1906, to parents José Antonio Escandón and Leonor Hernández. He began his elementary school studies at a private school, and by the age of five he could already read and write. At this age he began to show an interest in reading. When he was 12, his parents sent him to another town so that he could continue his studies. In the morning he would go to class and, in the afternoon, he would help at a store.1
In January 1935, he received a call from the Inter-American Division—which was then located in Panama—to serve as a minister. He was an avid Bible student, so he had a solid base on which to be a great teacher and preacher of the Bible.2 One of the advantages that Pastor Tirso Escandón had in his first years of ministerial work was the fact that he was able to work at the side of Pastor Max Trummer, originally from Germany. Pastor Escandón learned from this man as they toured through the Caribbean coast of Colombia. He learned to stay well nourished, to always be ready to preach in any place, and to stay in the homes of the church members rather than in hotels, which were expensive.
Accompanying Pastor Trummer was a very positive experience for Escandón. When he learned that a Seventh-day Adventist educational center had begun in Medellín, Colombia, he decided to enroll. Tirso Escandón was one of the first 12 students at the Colombia-Venezuela Union Training School founded on February 15, 1937.3 His consecration to God and his ministerial profile served to get him assigned to the Central Medellín Church and the Rionegro group in the municipality of Antoquía. His capacity for work and the needs of the church and school got him assigned to the purchasing department, while also doing literature evangelism work in Medellín and the surrounding villages in his spare time.4
Escandón met Flor María de García in 1938. They married in Villa de Cura, Venezuela. God blessed the couple with five daughters: Esther Ruth, Eunice Nélida, Doris Leonor, Consuelo, and Flor Elizabeth.
His success in literature evangelism during school vacations was one of the bases for gauging his future success in pastoral work. He earned two scholarships each summer. Escandón found it easy to interact with people. And besides the areas mentioned, Escandón also served as an historian and artist on the school campus where he graduated November 3, 1940. He was the president of the class, which was composed of five students. In his position as historian, he and Juan R. Mejía V, another student and a musician, produced a manuscript entitled Primera Jornada de la Academia Colombo-Venezolano de Medellín años 1937-1940 (First Account of the Colombo-Venezuelan Academy in Medellín During the Years 1937-1940) in which they included very valuable information about the progress of the Adventist work in the countries included within the Colombia-Venezuela Union Mission, that is, the Netherland Antilles, Colombia, and Venezuela.5
After his graduation, Tirso was secretary-treasurer of publications for the Pacific Colombia Mission. He had the benefit of working at the side of Pastor Henry E. Baasch, who was originally from Germany. The history of the Adventist work is a source of instruction for the ministers of today. Pastor Baasch, for example, taught Tirso about the blessings and challenges of the ministry, how to schedule his time, how to care for his body, how to notice his personal appearance, the art of tipping, and to be punctual for appointments.6 Later, Pastor Tirso Escandón was to work for the Colombia Venezuela Union Mission in various roles, including director of the radio correspondence school.
On April 20, 1946, Tirso Escandón was ordained as a minister while he was working as a pastor for the Pacific Colombia Mission headquartered in Santiago de Cali, Colombia. He was the first in his class from the Colombia-Venezuela Union Training School to be ordained.
In Colombia, Pastor Escandón held various responsibilities, such as treasurer and conference president, department head of the Colombia Venezuela Union Mission, and church pastor. His time as president of the Upper Magdalena Mission (in 1965 it became the first conference in the Colombia Venezuela Union) from June 1960 to November 1962 should be noted.7 Later he was a district pastor in Venezuela. On his return to Colombia, he had to confront the problem of violence that had broken out against the church, so in Bucaramanga he pastored a church that was among the most attacked and persecuted. Nevertheless, he trained the lay members there in evangelization. The enemies of the Adventist church would pay 500 Bolívares (VES) per head, as a means to get rid of Adventists8 (at that time the Bolívar was 3.35 to the dollar). In the Colombia Venezuela Union Mission, he worked as director of the radio work (1957-1959) and head of the departments of public relations, radio, and religious liberty (1960).
After a prolific ministerial career in the Adventist church, Pastor Tirso Escandón Hernández died in Riverside, California, U.S.A., on December 17, 1988. Pastor Escandón’s life led Dr. Rafael Escandón Hernández to affirm that he was “a son of consolation,” a “Barnabas.”9 E. Iglesias Ortega said that the church needed more workers like Tirso Escandón to carry the gospel to the remote places of Colombia where there was still no Adventist presence.10 Griswell indicated that in 1957, when he was in Bucaramanga, the older members, the colporteurs, and other persons there remembered fondly the various pioneer ministers of the church such as Pastor Tirso Escandón.11
Because there were problems in delivering religious correspondence, Pastor Tirso Escandón came up with the model for Missionary Postmen, which was well received in the Inter-American Division. The success of this idea had brought invitations from other countries, asking him to teach them how to implement this model. Pastor Escandón gave the Adventist Church a good reputation in Colombia and Venezuela.
Escandón Hernández, Rafael. Monedas de Oro. Reminiscencias de la familia Escandón. Clearlake, CA, U.S.A.: Perfect Printers, 2005.
Griswell, John. Inicios del Ministerio Adventista en Colombia: Fuente de Inspiración Para Seguir Cumpliendo la Misión. Medellín: Colombia: Litografía Icolven, 2017.
Iglesias Ortega, Enoc. Presencia Adventista en Colombia Medellín, np, 1966.
Viana Moreno, Yerko Samuel. Historia del Adventismo en Bogotá, D. C. 1921-2011. Bogotá: Departamento de Comunicaciones Asociación del Alto Magdalena, nd.
Rafael Escandón Hernández, Monedas de Oro. Reminiscencias de la familia Escandón (Clearlake, CA, U.S.A.: Perfect Printers, 2005), 39.↩
Ibid., 40, 55, 56.↩
Yerko Samuel Viana Moreno, Historia del Adventismo en Bogotá, D. C., 1921-2011 (Bogotá: Departamento de Comunicaciones Asociación del Alto Magdalena, nd.), 73.↩
Escandón Hernández, 105-106.↩
Enoc Iglesias Ortega, Presencia Adventista en Colombia (Medellín, np, 1966), 242.↩
John Griswell, Inicios del Ministerio Adventista en Colombia: Fuente de Inspiración Para Seguir Cumpliendo la Misión (Medellín: Colombia: Litografía Icolven, 2017), 48.↩