This weekend, as I was returning to Fresno from Monterey, CA, my wife and I drove into Los Banos, Ca., and we stopped to get a quick meal. Our conversation through the windy, winding and rainy pass was about the ministry I am engaged in at the FPU Center for Community Transformation. I was discussing other possible ministry opportunities that could be available soon when suddenly, I heard someone testing out their sound equipment on the other side of the street. I could see and hear someone preaching and giving his testimony to people at the strip mall and people in vehicles who were driving East and West on highway 152.
I was encouraged by the boldness and creativity that I walked over to introduce myself to this individual. I learned that this man was Pastor Carlos Martinez of Dos Palos, CA. He was spurned by the spirit to share his story. As I approached him, he had a team with him. After listening to Pastor Carlos for a few minutes, I knew that Pastor Carlos and his team wanted to make a positive impact in their community. I was able to speak with him and his team about our Certificado program, which is a one-year program for Spanish-speaking pastors and lay leaders who desire to grow in their impact as leaders, acquiring knowledge and skills in a way that improves the Shalom (well-being) of their communities. As I went over the five different modules that the certificate was composed of, they began to get excited, and their eyes lit up along with their smiles. With hesitance and concern, he mentioned that it had only been one year since he started his church, and he did not have the funds for such a certificate program. Due to the generous funding of The Lilly Foundation, it was my pleasure to inform Pastor Carlos and his team that we had scholarships available for Central Valley residents that would take care of the entirety of the costs for him and his leaders. Their eyes lit up again and their smiles resurrected, as he told me that he looks forward to learning more about our Certificado program. I shook their hands, and we all went our separate ways, knowing that we would meet again. The CCT team looks forward to coming alongside Pastor Carlos and his team and making our programs available to them as we build their capacity for their church to thrive in their context.
Juan Garza Jr.