When Sergio Amezcua came to the U.S. from Mexico in 2002, he was admittedly looking for gold. Not literal gold found under the earth or in mines, but the idea behind what gold signifies: success.
While his search for gold took hold, Amezcua found something even more valuable: Jesus Christ.
An inconvenient calling
While Amezcua grew up Catholic in Mazatlan, Mexico, he never went to church. His mother decided he would be Catholic when he was born and that was the extent of his religious upbringing and knowledge.
Things would change, however, when he came to the U.S. and made a commitment to receive Jesus Christ.
“Within two months, I met a Wesleyan pastor,” Amezcua recalled. “I started meeting with him in Anoka. That’s where I started my journey. It was a very small church, a handful of people. I basically started helping the pastor—getting involved, taking classes.”
Soon after he started to get involved in the new church, something changed in his life.
“I was called for the ministry, but I was hiding behind the call because I didn’t want to do it,” he said.
At his small church, Amezcua saw how much of a struggle pastors face. The lack of resources for ministry, the time commitment and all the other demands pastors experience made Amezcua reluctant to accept that call.
“I was afraid of that,” he said.
His calling, however, was about to get serious when the pastor of the small congregation announced he was moving to another state to accept a different call.
When the elders and the pastor met at Amezcua’s house to discuss what would happen next, the discussion quickly turned to choosing a new pastor. Amezcua asked who was being sent to take over the job, and the pastor looked at Amezcua and said, “You.”
“I was like, ‘No way. No. Not me,’” Amezcua said. “I didn’t want to do it; I never wanted to be a pastor. I was afraid. With my family, we had a pretty good thing going on. To let go of that lifestyle was tough.”
But he committed to pray about it, and he got an answer a short while later.
“I was praying in my office—my business at that time—and I got the Ten Commandments in front of me,” Amezcua said. “I just basically said, ‘Lord, if you want me to do this, let’s make a deal. You take care of my family, and I’ll take care of your church.’”
It was 2009.
Even though the church was small—just a handful of people at the time—the vision was big. In 2010, the small congregation, with Amezcua as pastor, began to rent space from Brooklyn Park Evangelical Free Church. Amezcua held the services in Spanish. By 2012, however, the small congregation officially became part of the Evangelical Free Church denomination. But that wasn’t necessarily the path Amezcua believed the Lord wanted.
“The Lord said, ‘No, I don’t want you to be a church,’” Amezcua recalled. “‘I want you to be part of the church, local.’”
With that direction, “We became a ministry of the church,” he said.
Today, Dios Habla Hoy (“God Speaks Today”) is one of four worship services at Brooklyn Park Evangelical Free Church and the only one in Spanish. The ministry averages 140 people at each service and Amezcua said, “We worship together, we eat together, we do life together.”
The service includes people from some 10 nations, including Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Panama and Chile.
“It is very multiethnic, multicultural, even though [it is] one language,” he said.
Amezcua estimates that 95 percent of those in the Dios Habla Hoy service are first-generation immigrants.
“The youth are first generation,” he said. “Minnesota is very different than the south states [where immigrants have lived there longer]. But here in Minnesota, you are dealing with new immigrants. Maybe 20 percent of them speak English a little bit. So we as a church are committed to helping to eventually bring in English classes and things like that to the congregation. We want to serve immigrants here.”
Long and wonderful journey
When Amezcua thinks about the last 11 years and his journey, he is amazed.
“I believe that was God’s plan, bringing me to this country,” he said. “I’m very grateful to be part of this church because [I didn’t initially want to be a pastor]. If I would have stayed in Mexico, I would have never become a pastor.”
That doesn’t mean, however, his journey has been without its bumps and questions.
He recalls during his first year as a pastor praying that God would do what His word says. He said he didn’t want to be like a door-to-door salesman, making a big presentation and then not being able to back up his words.
“I thoroughly believe God is still in the business of healing,” he said. And, Amezcua believes, they have witnessed many miracles over the past several years.
Reaching the least
Amezcua believes churches are positioned well to make significant impact in their communities—just by looking around.
“A lot of churches are praying for revival,” he said. “I think we need to get out of our comfort zone and reach out to all of the community. I think the churches—especially the churches that are established already—should invest time and money reaching out to the people nobody wants.”
When they do that, Amezcua believes revival will come.
“In the book of Acts, in chapter eight, after the persecution, the apostle went to places nobody wanted to go,” he said. “That’s when the revival [started] taking place.”
— by Scott Noble