“I’ll never be a church planter.” Rudy Rubio’s response to the pastor who challenged him to consider church planting came without hesitation. Staring at his tattoo-covered arms, he reflected on his past. He remembered the loneliness of being in and out of prison and the pain of being shot seven times and stabbed eighteen. He recalled the fear of living as a fugitive in Mexico for six years.
Rudy’s past tells the story of a boy raised on the streets of South LA, searching for a place to belong and finding it with gangs and mafias. But Rudy’s story doesn’t end there. One night in prison, Rudy cried out in desperation—to a God he wasn’t sure existed—to spare him from a deadly situation. God physically removed him from that situation, proving to Rudy that not only was he real, but he was also listening.
As Rudy began reading the Bible, something he’d tried before to no avail, the scales fell off his eyes and he understood and believed. The man who spent years searching for an identity finally found it in his belonging to Jesus Christ.
God has written Rudy a better story, one that highlights his matchless glory. He’s given Rudy a new heart and a new spirit (Ezek. 36:26). He’s transformed this former criminal into a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
A New Life
A few years later, Rudy was released from prison. But this time, as a Christian. His old life was ready to welcome him back, but he’d been welcomed into the arms of a loving Savior, and nothing was better than that. Even so, temptations were everywhere and trials were plentiful. He struggled to provide for his family. Finding honest work with his past was almost impossible. But God faithfully supplied his every need (Phil. 4:19).God is using this small church led by an unlikely church planter to impact their community in big ways. Click To Tweet
While Rudy was working on his bachelor’s degree through the University of Phoenix, a pastor challenged him to think about church planting. Soon after, the church he was part of invited him to join their staff. Since God was opening doors for him to be a minister, Rudy decided to attend seminary. During an urban church-planting class, he realized God was calling him to plant a church. Six months later, in July of 2017, his local church sent him and a core team of 30 people to plant Reformed Church of Los Angeles (RCLA).
An Impacted Community
Rudy knows the joy of laying down his weapons and picking up the Scriptures. He wants others to share in the blessing of giving up sin and gaining Christ. His church plant is passionate about reaching their lost neighbors with the gospel. Rudy says, “Our mission is to create a community of believers that would fall in love with Jesus and be obedient to his teachings.” God is using this small church led by an unlikely church planter to impact their community in big ways. They’ve worked hard to show their neighbors their love for them, which has opened many doors to proclaim Christ.
RCLA reaches out to other gospel-centered churches and organizes outdoor unity services where believers across the city come together to worship God, share a meal, and pray for their city. They work with the mayor, school superintendents, and the city council on community projects. RCLA took a financial hit because of COVID-19, but they’ve continued to generously give to feed 300 needy families each week. Their community knows who they are and that they care for them (Jer. 29:7). They’ve established credibility with community leaders who listen to them and seek their help when something happens in their city. Their gospel witness is changing lives every day for God’s glory.
A Bigger Story
The former criminal who said he’d never be a church planter started a church that is currently planting three more churches across southern California. Rudy says, “We’re just a few people with no money and no buildings. Being part of Acts 29 has been a huge encouragement. They’ve got our backs.” By God’s grace, as we all work together, his kingdom on earth comes.The former criminal who said he’d never be a church planter started a church that is currently planting three more churches across southern California. Click To Tweet
Christians have a great story to tell—a bigger and better story than has ever been told. And God has been telling his story through small groups of committed Christians since the world began. He positions us in cities, towns, and villages to impact our communities with the hope of the gospel. He sends us to all nations to invite others into the unshakeable identity of belonging to Jesus.
God is raising up all kinds of church planters to make disciples of all kinds of people. Acts 29 is excited to be part of each of their stories as we work together to tell the bigger story of Christ’s salvation toward sinners.