June 5th, 2012 at 6:00 am
Many people would say life was going well for Mario Quezada. He had a sweet family. He was one of the head drivers for the area HEB trucking division making quite a nice salary. He and his wife were helping lead a church plant through Second Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, and it was growing into a healthy church.
But two years into the church plant, Mario started to sense that his time there at the church plant was coming to an end.
Mario and his wife took a month sabbatical from the church, spending that time in prayer and fasting, seeking what the Lord would have for them next.
At the end of that month, Mario felt the Lord leading him to resign from the pastoral position at the church.
“God didn’t let me know where I was going. I just knew I was supposed to still pastor,” Mario said.
For three months, Mario and his family prayed and sought the Lord’s direction, feeling like the Lord wanted them to lead a church in a different part of Corpus.
Soon after, Mario discovered a small, inner city church that had been without a pastor for three years. Only a few members were left, but Mario felt the Lord calling him to leave his trucking job and pastor this church called CrossBridge Fellowship.
“My wife and I truly felt led that this is where God wanted us,” he said.
Mario knew the church would be an inner city church. Many people called Mario stupid for stepping into what seemed like an unwise, illogical situation.
Questions from others swirled around him – Who would pay his salary? How would he and his family survive? Why would he choose an inner city church when he could help with a healthy, wealth church plant in another part of town?
Mario knew the situation didn’t look that positive. He was about to commit to pastor a struggling church in an area where each household made less than $11,000 a year and that has the highest crime rate in the city (1 out of 30 people is raped, murderer or robbed in this area).
“In the beginning, it was hard. I was falling into God’s will for my life and the ministry. But how do explain that to people?” he said.
Mario also knew this is where God was calling him, and he jumped into the ministry with everything in him. It was an area that needed help and the hope of the gospel.
One family who were close friends to Mario and his wife stood by the couple and committed to help them with the church. Slowly, God placed other financial support and encouragement in Mario’s path, making the endeavor possible.
The Corpus Christi Baptist Association reached out to Mario and the church affiliated with the Association. Then Second Baptist Church in Corpus committed to be a support church for Mario.
From the beginning of his time there, Mario was intentional about getting outside the walls of the church to go meet people, engage them, care for their needs and love them in the name of Christ.
“We hug them. We kiss them. We eat with them. We clothe them. That is how it is with people who are down and out know you care, it’s when you touch them. You don’t just drop off food or clothes. You accept them love them, not because that is our vision, but because they are God’s creation, God’s people too,” Mario said.
As Mario and the church noticed needs around the community, ministry opportunities formed. The church began an after school children’s program called “Terrific Tuesdays” to minister to the children in the apartment community across the street. They provided a meal for the children and helped with homework.
Through this, they began to build relationships with the children’s parents, and found additional ways to care for these families. Next year, the church will be offering the after school program four days a week. Many churches around Corpus have offered to support the program through funding and volunteers since they are expecting more than 100 children each day.
“If we can get them for two hours a day off the streets or from doing nothing, then that is great,” Mario said.
The church continues to grow and reach out to the community. Now there are 120 members. The church has baptized more than 100 people in its first year of ministry, and Mario expects to pass that record in 2012.
“Our ministry has grown. When we came into this building, it had seven classrooms, and we were only using one classroom. Now every classroom is being used. We have small groups, a full-blown children’s ministry, youth ministry, a nursery and several adult classes. We even had to remake one of our storage rooms into a classroom.”
Mario admits that this ministry is tough. But he wouldn’t trade it for anything. This is what God has called him to do and God is guiding him.
“Many times we are going to be called not where we want to be but where we are needed,” he said. “…When it doesn’t make sense, listen to God and be obedient to Him. Ask Him where to go and He will tell where and how and help us get it done.”
Mario mentioned that in the Bible there are many things that don’t seem to make sense – the talking mule, the burning bush, parting of the Red Sea, Jesus feeding so many with just a few fishes and loaves.
“But just because it doesn’t make sense doesn’t mean that it isn’t from God. I think it connects us more to God when it didn’t make sense because we rely more on Him,” he said.
It’s about following the good call to follow Jesus, even when it’s to the bad side of town.
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