A Profound Conversion
I was in Guadalajara, Mexico, this past January for one of the most amazing weekends. I have been there multiple times over the last twelve years. We began a partnership with Miguel and Janet (Miguel is a former gang leader and drug dealer) who pastored a church in that city. Guadalajara was one of our first international TUMI (The Urban Ministry Institute) sites. This most recent trip centered around Alberto Garcia and a few others.
Close to thirty years ago Alberto went to prison with almost a life sentence after a man was killed in a gang fight. This incident occurred in Southern California when Alberto was a teenager. Alberto began his prison sentence and lived in a life of prison crime as a leader of gang activity. He had never done drugs or things of that nature himself, but he was a leader of many that did the worst. He was feared.
Then came a profound conversion to Christ seventeen years into his sentence. The change was immediate, and he never looked back. His next ten years were in leadership of planting churches and leading others to Christ. He would be transferred to different prisons as often is the case. At each place his leadership rose and the wardens noticed.
Some years ago in a prison yard he was told about TUMI. He entered the training and completed several modules of study. One day he transferred to a prison where there was no TUMI class, but he taught others what he had learned.
At another prison, TUMI classes resumed. Then the wardens and the governor all said he should be released. After all those years in prison he was deported to a city in Mexico. He found out about our TUMI site in Guadalajara, which was seven hours away. He began going once a week by bus to complete his training over the next year and a half.
Over that time a gradual stirring in his heart began for Yolanda, the TUMI coordinator. She happens to be a godly woman and the sister of Miguel.
My weekend in January included three significant events: on Friday night Alberto graduated from his TUMI class; on Saturday night Alberto and Yolanda were married; and on Sunday morning, they were ordained to the ministry with several others.
Alberto and Yolanda are now pastors of the church with a vision to plant churches across Mexico. Only God could do something like this! Thank you for your prayers over all these years for many like Miguel and Janet, Alberto and Yolanda, and on and on.