About 15 years ago, a VMC Youth Group went down to Tijuana, Mexico to partner with Jesus Mondragon. "Pastor Chuy," as he is known by many in that region, is small in stature, but has a giant influence for Christ. In those days, he pastored churches down the street from his home, at a neighborhood nearby, and in the dump area of TJ. People live in the dump, using trash to assemble dwellings for shelter. During their spring break, our students would put on Vacation Bible Schools for the children who lived in the dump, and Pastor Church would preach to the adults. Because he was known for his compassion, people living on the streets would come to him, looking for a place to stay. He would let them sleep in camper shells and tents in his yard, but not before they heard the message of the gospel. He would tell them that feeding their soul was more important than feeding them food. But obviously, space became an issue and limited how many people he could bless with the love of Christ.
Pastor Chuy dreamed of ways to expand his efforts to tell people that somebody loves them. His heart broke for the lost and abandoned, and he wanted them to know that God cares. Since then, Alguien Me Ama (Somebody Loves Me) Teen Center and El Refugio (The Refuge) Senior Center were birthed out of this vision. El Refugio houses 130 previously homeless seniors, and provides them with food, clothing and medical care. The Teen Center, run by Pastor Chuy's daughter, Cristina, and her husband Rene, offers a place for youth to hang out in a neighborhood where more that 50% of its children get into drugs. The Center hosts activities, tutoring and two annual abstinence camps. 220 girls attend a recent camp (pictured above), and 12 of those who attended accept Christ as their Savior. A boys' camp will take place October 29.
The ministries that Pastor Chuy began are now under one umbrella, Love In Action Partners, Inc. Rene and Cristina, and Chuy and Magdalena are VMC missionaries. Their cards are on our missions wall in the lobby. Missions at Ventura Missionary is not part of the General Budget. To support LIAP, note "Missions & Outreach" on your check, bill-pay, PushPay or online gift.