by: David Jaimes
Over 90 years ago an American missionary came to a small mountain town in Peru. He had broken Spanish, a guitar, a sack lunch, a Bible, and a message for the people of Pampas Grande. One of those people, a young man named Wilfredo Dario, heard that message and joined the missionary in telling others the good news. Wilfredo eventually married, and one of his boys was my dad, Victor David. He studied at a local Bible institute, and married the daughter of a military man. A year later I was born. My father heard from his extended family that they were looking for a pastor in the U.S. So we went. But it wasn’t easy. We had to enter the country via unconventional methods.
To my father’s dismay, there was no opening for a pastor at that church. He took a job as a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver, as a landscaper, as an ice cream vendor, and finally as a pastor. I was six when we moved to Norwalk, California, where my father was a pastor for Iglesia Mision Emanuel (R.C.A.). My father was also going to school, and after earning his MDiv at Fuller Theological Seminary, he started a new church in Santa Ana—Iglesia Ebenezer. Because my dad was the pastor, I helped with worship, playing drums in the worship band. Church was my life, but it wasn’t my passion.
When I was 19, that church closed its doors. I was confused and lonely. I was one person in church and another person on the outside. I never had a best friend in church. I didn’t experience community there. In my experience, church was a twice-weekly gathering of people for the purpose of judging others. I wanted no part of that.
After Iglesia Ebenezer closed, my father was discouraged, and our family struggled financially. I decided school was not important. So after high school, I worked to help my family. My parents still dragged me to church services and family Bible studies. I went, but only because I had to. I didn’t believe God loved us. It was God’s fault that we had no money, that we might lose our home, that there was family conflict. Christianity did not make sense. God did not make sense. But I loved my parents.
One of my father’s mentors told him of a new Spanish-speaking church in Yorba Linda called Amigos de Cristo. The man’s daughter was on staff there, and they were looking for an associate pastor. When my father told me about this Friends Church, I laughed and asked why a church would call themselves Friends? Pretty cheesy! During this time, my dad was doing maintenance work at another Friends Church in Yorba Linda called Rose Drive. They also had asked him to apply for a pastoral position. I hadn’t seen my dad this excited in years. All I cared about was the money. He urged our whole family to start attending Rose Drive Friends. I didn’t want to, but I went.
Then, in November of 2007, I was asked to resign from my job as a para-educator behavior interventionist. I loved that job. At the same time, my dad had now been given the Rose Drive Friends Church position of planting a new church. I was reluctant because this was a church plant. I remembered how this had gone the first time. My parents trusted God. I didn’t.
A couple of weeks before the launch of the new church, my dad asked me to help renovate the building and translate for him. Many Rose Drive volunteers came to help. I got to know them and some of the staff that came to help, too. One thing I noticed about the Friends is how friendly they were (no pun intended). They were also patient. They seemed genuine. I thought that these white, suburban people would have money to show off, but they were humble and had a simple way of life.
On that first Sunday, March 23, 2008, many people came. I cried while playing the drums in worship. I was overwhelmed. That following Friday, we had our first Bible study night, and I was given responsibility for the youth. We just played games. I didn’t know how to teach, much less lead. They would ask me questions about the Bible, and I couldn’t answer. When they asked for help with their problems, I gave vague, superficial responses.
Then, in a service at Rose Drive, I gave up and asked Jesus into my life. I knew I needed help relating to the youth at our church. It hurt me so much that I couldn’t be the leader they needed. I begged God to make me into the leader these students needed. And God worked, helping me first to feel my need, helping me to let down my own resistance, helping me to pay attention and to learn. And I’ve learned. I’ve learned to teach, to preach, to counsel, to plan, to help others meet Christ.
And this is what I learned. I learned that God provides generously to those who serve him.