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From Lifers to Pastors

From Lifers to Pastors

Carlos and Martin first met in September 1997 while both were serving life sentences in the California State Prison in Lancaster, CA. God sovereignly gave them neighboring cells. Martin was a new believer at the time and said, “It was in this desire to grow in my faith that brought Carlos and I together.” He began attending Bible studies Carlos conducted in the yard and chapel and soon Carlos began discipling Martin in the “dayroom” in their housing unit.

This was a major step of faith for both men. Martin states, “In the prison system… the mixing of races is a taboo that has led to… riots and even death. So, for Carlos to conduct a Bible study on the Black side of the dayroom spoke volumes of his faith in God.” Carlos and Martin served the Lord together from 1997-2000 and again from 2010-2015 when Carlos was paroled to San Diego. In 2012, Martin was ordained as the yard pastor and began attending TUMI classes until he was paroled in 2017. When Martin paroled to San Diego, it was Carlos who picked him up at the train station and blessed him with his first meal as a free man.

Soon after Martin was paroled, he attended World Impact’s Evangel School of Urban Church Planting where Pillar of Fire Church was chartered. Martin and Danny, who is also a former lifer and TUMI graduate, now serve as pastors of this church.

Carlos joined the Pillar of Fire leadership team recently and his wife, Hanna, is the worship leader for the church. By God’s grace the church is adding more leaders and it has grown from its original three-member team to around 25. Carlos has also started a re-entry home called the Bethel House for re-entry men.

God’s sovereign hand has been on Carlos and Martin’s lives, inside prison and out, for over 20 years. It is such an honor to call them partners in ministry.

Read more from Rich Esselstrom.


March 9, 2019 | David Klopfenstein

Rich,  God bless you guys.  It
Is beyond wonder what You And God have
going.  Know we pray for you WI and TUMI!
So thankful for your dedication. 

March 19, 2019 | Benjamin

Truly Awesome work Guy’s. Peace and blessings to you all.


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