How did you end up in Little Village? In 1977 my parents moved from El Paso to Chicago IL. We moved into Little village on the 22nd & Albany. My parents purchased their first home in 1983 on 28th & Komensky. They moved from Juárez, Chihuahua Mexico to Texas, Colorado, and finally to Chicago where we planted roots and called it home.
What brought you to La Villita Community Church? What keeps you here?I would say it was the community work I was doing with Youth For Christ & Pastor Noel Castellanos, the founder of LVCC. Noel was the first pastor of LVCC that allowed us to bring our youth from a project that Benny and I had been part of through the University of Chicago from 1994-1997. We were one of the first unconventional youth groups at La Villita. The building at the time was on 2657 S Lawndale (where New Life Community Church is now). What kept me here? GOD and the work we got to do with Pastor Vic, his heart for community and people. The family culture we got to build together. I got the opportunity to serve within LVCC daily.
How did you come to know Jesus?Through my uncle Abel in Liberal, KS. He would take me to church while I was there with him. My mom sent me on a one-way ticket around 1992. His pastor Jorge led me in prayer. He did an altar call on New Year’s Eve, so I came to know Jesus personally on January 1, 1993 right after midnight.
What are some initiatives in the neighborhood that you are a part of?Alma and I have served in many leadership roles like youth leaders, youth pastors, and elders throughout our faith journey. We served at El Redentor Baptist Church in LV, Centro Cristiano Vida Abundante in Cícero, Family Bible Church in Aurora, Iglesia Camino Nuevo in Little Village who merged with La Villita Community Church. I've been working at New Life Centers for the last 8 years. I’ve led alongside my colleagues in the Mentoring Youth Development through Sports, Outreach Work/ Victim Advocates/Case-Managers, Prison Work in Illinois Department Juvenile Justice “IYC.” I've been part of many violence prevention programs such as Youth for Christ, Little Village Reduction Project (University of Chicago), YMCA Street Intervention Program, Ceasefire – Violence Interrupters (UIC), CPS Outreach Pilot Program and a few gang outreach initiatives. I continue to volunteer with “Cure Violence” International Work happening around South America & Central America. Currently, I volunteer with CYBC, serve as an Elder/Pastor in LVCC, as well as the administrative board in LVCC.
What are your spiritual gifts?Evangelism, Prayer, Servant's Heart, Discernment, Visiting people at home, hospitals, prisons, Outreach on the streets. Walking alongside broken souls. I would ask others if they agree or disagree with me. I might be missing gifts that I don't see.
What does community mean to you? Struggling together, surviving many pandemics. Losing many things but gaining many others. It means having a family away from home. I grew up here, going to school here, eating from the school cafeterias, and playing sports in our parks, school playgrounds. It also means serving alongside my wife, Alma & my family.