Political corruption, floods of drug trafficking, 44% of the population living below the poverty line… this is the description of Rio Grande City, Texas, the small border town where I grew up. But even in the midst of this chaos, Christ turned my heart to Him. God used wonderful people back home, and others throughout my walk, to help mold my life for His glory.
Since 2006, when the Lord brought my beautiful wife Cindy and me together, God has been preparing us to plant Via Church. He has also provided others that shared the vision, including our long-time friends from seminary, Brandon and Jennifer, who joined us from Springfield, Missouri to help lead the church. Brandon now serves alongside me as a fellow pastor of Via.
In our first two years in Denver, God also blessed us with Vince and Kirsten, who have proved to be invaluable to the life and vision of the church. In God’s sovereignty, all six of us have been prepared uniquely and burdened similarly to plant an extension of the Body in a place like Southwest Denver.
Via is a bilingual church plant located in a heavily Spanish speaking neighborhood in Denver, called Westwood. Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus through the power of the Spirit, for the glory of the Father and the joy of all people. It is our conviction that this mission begins in the home, goes out to the city, and extends throughout the world.
Westwood is culturally and ethnically diverse and is predominantly characterized by low income, regardless of the wide range of education levels and backgrounds represented. Many people are struggling not only due to the high cost of our city, high unemployment, and a crime rate 51% higher than the national average, but because of lasting hurt from broken homes, churches teaching incomplete and false gospels, and a growing city that doesn’t seem to care about them. There is a huge opportunity for the Gospel to go out, and Via Church is excited to be part of God’s mission to love and serve this community and its people.
In only our first 6 months since launch, Via has encountered a great deal of opposition from the enemy, but through it, God’s glory has shined even brighter. Recently Brandon began discipling Jay, a former co-worker and friend. In the first two years of their relationship, anything beyond the nominal, church-searching surface was heavily protected. Jay visited a few of our Sunday service visits but kept his distance. Brandon felt pulled to continue to pursue him, even during a long season of receiving silence in return. After five months of silence, Brandon received a call from Jay, asking if they could meet for dinner. Jay revealed that he had been going through the difficult end of a relationship with a young woman, stresses from a job change, financial hurdles, all while wrestling with a crisis of faith. He was running on the fumes of his parent’s faith and doubting the existence of God altogether. Since then they have been meeting regularly to pray, eat, and read through Tim Keller’s Reason for God. Jay has even started visiting Via and coming to social gatherings again! Amidst that joy, we ask for prayer that God will continue to use Via to point Jay to the new life that only the Gospel can bring.
As God continues to grow us as leaders in His church and bring new people into the fold, he is graciously pruning those in our core group as well. Recently, we saw the Lord bring beautiful reconciliation after the enemy drove a hurtful wedge between two families in our church.
This first year has been exciting and full in the life of Via Church! We continue to be surprised by the unexpected ways God is pushing our small church to reach people. From flag and fantasy football leagues with co-workers, softball leagues with friends, and even a Dungeons and Dragons Guild with our neighbors, God has blown us away with his creativity.
We are also extremely grateful for opportunities we’ve had (along with community partners) to show love to our community in a number of ways. We helped put on the Loretto Heights Apartment’s outdoor movie night, a poolside BBQ, a block party, summer programs hosted by a local outreach North Littleton Promise, and had helped do some renovations to the SWIC Community Center, where we hold our Sunday services. From that work in the field, we have been able to celebrate some visitors, including new regulars Barbara and her granddaughter, and a single man named Army, who both attended our recent membership informational meeting!
We couldn’t be more thrilled about seeing God move through the formation of new relationships made at these events and all the opportunities to connect with and serve so many amazing families and neighbors. We recognize that in large part, we’ve had these ample opportunities to bless many people thanks to resources provided by our many dedicated immediate and extended partners in ministry. We appreciate all the loving hands that made these events possible, and we are so very grateful for the supportive community who have joined us to work and celebrate the Glory of our God!
Each year, Acts 29 US West has the joy of funding a number of church plants. Via Church is one of 17 church plants we’re funding in 2017. You can read about more of these church plants on our blog!