Thursday, November 14, 2013

El Nino -- Step Up To Life

Saturday, Nov. 9, continued...

Angel Lopez, Sheryl, Pastor Daniel Nunez
In my last post, I spent some time describing this community so that you could get a feel for the needs of the people. This morning, I want to introduce you to some really special people and tell you a bit about what they're doing. 

The young man in the left side of this photo is Angel Lopez. Angel has an amazing story of gang involvement in California, leading to some prison time, and ultimately his conversion. He is a natural born leader, and is one of the most strongly gifted evangelists I've ever met. He works alongside the pastor of one of the church plants started by Pastor Daniel Nunez, the man in the right of the photo. In his church, he has initiated a team of young evangelists who regularly (and I mean nearly daily!) go out into the streets of their communities preaching and sharing the Gospel with anyone who will listen. Their congregation is one where Pastor Steve taught Fresh Start last year at this time, and they are exploding almost faster than they can care for the people. In a month, they will begin having two services on Sunday morning to accommodate all who are coming. 

Sheryl with Joe Hernandez
At first, Angel was one of very few Christians in his family. While they were most happy to see the changed life he was leading, they also thought he was a little "loco"! Soon, though, he led his cousin, Joe Hernandez, to Jesus -- and his life, too, was radically changed. His prison time came to an end, and Angel was there for him. He joined the evangelism team back in the neighborhood, and now there were two on the streets. Angel also has a brother Carlos, who is part of the team, as are about four others. They visit drug rehab centers, prisons, AIDS patients,....anyone who will listen. They told me Saturday that they have several friends still in prison in the States that they are praying will be released, so that they can go pick them up and disciple them.

Pastor Daniel and his wife Yolanda live in a home adjacent to the church, and in the past several years have been instrumental in planting 20 congregations in the area...penetrating the darkness and need with the Gospel, and caring for the people. Their church has so many things going, like feeding programs, and outreach programs, and short-term teams building houses and churches, that it's impossible to list them. Please pray for this couple that they would have the wisdom and stamina to pastor and care for so many other young pastoral couples.

Dave with Jesus Rodriquez and the Evangelism Team

Now, imagine teaching the principles of Step Up To Life to this young group of eager evangelists! They have already been on the streets, and were full of examples and questions -- and soaking up everything Dave could give them. He gave the most clear and concise presentation of how to use Step Up To Life that I think I've ever heard -- maybe even from the man who wrote it! Altogether, it was an extremely fruitful morning. The group commented that they had been at a place where these principles will be very helpful in moving them into the next step of effectiveness in their ministry to the community. It was exactly what they needed at this point in time!

And,before we left El Nino that afternoon, we had to try out a taco stand that we haven't been to before. Once again, Pastor Jesus knew a great place to eat!! These tacos are NOT $5 each....that is in pesos. This is an unusual stand because it also does things like baked potatoes with "stuff" on them! I have to say it might be another favorite of ours! What I am about to eat in the photo is a "mulita" for my non-hispanic friends.  It is comprised of two fresh (handmade) soft tortillas, with chopped meat, cheese, salsa, guacamole, onions....whatever you want included in it. Beyond description when you're very hungry!

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