Editor's Note: As the end of 2018 approaches, Charisma is looking back at the major events of the year, from Billy Graham's death to sexual assault stories to wildfires to the historic North Korea summit and everything in between. The following is one of our top stories of the year. The information presented in the story was accurate at the time of reporting. Continue to follow Charisma News for all the latest updates for these stories and more.
This article was published May 29th.
A popular Central Florida pastor was killed in a horrific car crash early Memorial Day.
Pastor Orlando Rivera, who previously worked at Northland Church in Longwood, Florida, was killed in a possible head-on/wrong-way accident.
"We are grieving with the Rivera family. Pastor Orlando Rivera, former Northland pastor, was tragically killed in a car accident early this morning. Please keep Nancy and their children in your prayers. More details to come," Northland Church posted to Facebook.
Rivera's reach stretched beyond the megachurch's congregation.
According to a GoFundMe page, Rivera and his wife ministered in the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative; various initiatives within the Holden Heights neighborhood of Orlando; the Hub University Church; Nyack College; Mount Vernon Alliance Church; and countless other ministries around the world.
"Few people have had the worldwide impact for Christ that Orlando and Nancy Rivera have had. As a pastor, speaker, teacher, entrepreneur, leader, mentor, community organizer and developer, and family member, Orlando and Nancy have personally poured their hearts and souls into people from Egypt to Costa Rica to Nigeria to urban centers across the United States," says Chris Winkler, who started the GoFundMe page.
The couple has 10 children, seven of whom were adopted.
"This comes as a great shock to thousands of us who have been impacted by Orlando's ministry and leaves a great void on this earth," says Winkler.
"The Rivera family needs as many prayers and as much emotional support as possible right now! They are grateful for each and every prayer that you can offer on their behalf," Winkler says.
"In addition, there are significant financial expenses about to hit the family, including the funeral, but also basic living costs with the loss of their family's primary income. Your financial gifts will ease the monetary burden caused by this tragedy, both now and into the future! We would like to raise $100,000 to help Nancy navigate the challenging financial waters ahead. They have impacted so many of us around the world—would you please consider impacting them as well?"
The page has reached nearly $5,000 of its $100,000 goal in less than one day.
Several people who knew Rivera expressed their condolences on social media.
"We will never forget him. Pastor Rivera married my husband and I in the little chapel almost 19 years ago. This is such sad news," one person writes on the Northland post.
Another says: "This is so very heart breaking. He baptized my daughter. Prayers for the whole family."
And another: "Praying for Orlando's family. He was a gentle giant, truly one of a kind."
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