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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...



Connections: Adelita Garza

Puente de Vida

On Oct. 25, 2009, church planter Adelita Garza with a support team launched Puente de Vida, a Spanish-speaking, Assemblies of God congregation in Santa Paula, Calif. Garza recently spoke with Jennifer McClure, technical editor, about their first-year growth and the benefits of the Church Multiplication Network Matching Fund.

evangel: When did you decide to plant a church?
GARZA:
Church planting never crossed my mind until we saw a need to begin a Spanish ministry at Ventura (Calif.) First Assembly of God. My passion for evangelism soon intertwined with the work of planting a church. Since the church’s location was in a different socioeconomic community than our target group, we decided to move to the city of Santa Paula and launch Puente de Vida Church. Santa Paula is a community that is 80 percent Latino and primarily Spanish-speaking. Since our launch, we have grown from 70 to almost 200 people.


evangel: To what do you credit the growth in your first year?

GARZA:
Our primary place for growth is our Tuesday night food outreach ministry where we distribute fresh food: fruit, vegetables, dairy products and meat. Prior to the distribution of food, we have an outreach service where we pray for people’s needs, hear testimonies, preach a short message and make a call to salvation. Visitors don’t have to come to the service; they can just come for the food. But it’s amazing to see how more people are coming for the spiritual food than the physical food. It’s exciting to see lives saved and changed by the power of Jesus.


evangel: What challenges have you faced as a single woman in pastoral ministry?
GARZA:
When I started the Spanish ministry, I was 32. So being young, single and a Latina woman were all challenges to some degree. In my experience, the most difficult challenge was receiving respect. Since it’s not common to have a single, woman pastor, many people will question your call, scrutinize your ministry and wait for you to prove your call through bearing fruit.

In many cases, it’s only after their lives have been transformed through your ministry that they no longer question your call or your leadership ability. This is not an easy process to go through; therefore, as women, we must stand firm in the truth that God has called us and He will not limit us based on our gender, ethnicity, marital status or age.


evangel: In what ways has the CMN Matching Fund helped?
GARZA:
The Matching Funds helped us buy our sound and media equipment, including several computers for the sanctuary and administrative offices. We also purchased a truck for our food outreach ministry. These funds have given us financial security during these difficult times, securing our rent and other ministry expenses when our income has been low. Having money in the bank has allowed us to focus on ministry and not be stressed about our finances month to month. These funds have been an amazing blessing.


evangel: Would you explain the CMN Matching Fund program?
GARZA:
There’s an application process to go through from the Church Multiplication Network. Both your mother church and district must be supportive of your ministry and also willing to support you financially. In my case, both our mother church and district supported us with $10,000 each. As the church planter, you provide another $10,000 — whether it’s through your own leadership team or your personal efforts in raising support.

After that $30,000 has been provided, the Church Multiplication Network, partnering with AGTrust, matches that same amount. So for Puente de Vida, we ended up having $60,000 in the bank, which has tremendously helped us do effective ministry without the financial stresses.

There are two commitments to follow through on. First, you commit to tithe 10 percent of your church’s income, by giving 5 percent to missions and the other 5 percent toward paying forward your $30,000. There’s no interest, which is a huge blessing, and you pay it forward at a pace that matches your income level. Second, as your church continues to grow, you commit to give regularly to the ministry of church planting.

For more information, visit churchmultiplicationnetwork.ag.org and select “matching funds.”

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