Indigenous Church Planters: Alfredo and Salina

Alfredo started attending The Urban Ministry Institute in Fresno and connected right away with Rick Browatzke, the City Director and TUMI facilitator. His endless questions and enthusiasm made the class a great joy. As a new believer he had suffered some spiritual abuse, but his desire to know Jesus and study the Scripture was not hindered in the slightest. Alfredo didn’t finish all his assignments, but he started his own house church as a ministry project with his family and some friends. All he needed was someone in his corner to encourage him and believe in him. A few years ago, World Impact licensed him as a minister of the Gospel, and although there have been challenges finding steady employment, he has never doubted his call to be a pastor. 

Alfredo was born in Compton, a notorious area of Los Angeles, and lived in rough areas of the city throughout his childhood. Suffering and struggling to survive – and without a father – he was educated on the street by gangs and drug life. Somehow God protected Alfredo through those turbulent years and brought him through alive and not incarcerated. 

To get away from the street life and start anew, Alfredo moved to Fresno. There he met a wonderful young woman named Salina who later became his wife. She saw something behind his hard exterior and, although a nominal Christian at the time, invited him to her church. He went a few times but did not have a good experience. But God was at work in his life. He started listening to Christian radio teachers; somewhere in a late night struggle, he met Jesus. He describes it as a “divine intervention,” becoming a new creation in Christ. The change and freedom was so radical that some thought he must have found a new drug. Others concluded that he must have lost his mind because he wouldn’t stop talking about Jesus. 

Nine years later, his knowledge and maturity caught up with his zeal. He is a bold evangelist, sharing Jesus in every opportunity and developing his gifts as a teacher and pastor. Alfredo and Salina have provided leadership and helped organize an Urban Church Association, which brings together church plant pastors. They meet regularly for pray support and networking.

Two years ago the couple started Immanuel’s Living Church, which meets on Sundays and has between fifteen to thirty attendees. The group’s size has not hindered their faithfulness or outreach to the homeless and to needy families in the neighborhood. They have been working hard at establishing their own status as a nonprofit organization.

Along with the fellowship that meets on Sunday, they have started a midweek house church in the home of Salina’s parents. It began with Salina’s mother and a few members of the family. Her father had always been antagonistic toward church and God, but they prayed for him for many years. He observed Alfredo and Salina’s growing and sincere faith over the years, and through their witness and prayer, the Holy Spirit has opened his heart. He started asking Alfredo more questions and became a sincere believer. They say the change has been profound – her father fully participates, reading his Bible and engaging in the discussion.

Alfredo and Salina are wonderful indigenous leaders who have demonstrated a visible transformation and testament to Christ!