My name is Ernesto Mendivil and, I'm not by any means a public speaker. I'm an auto mechanic. This will not be a sermon, but a testimony of what I see God has been doing in my life and in OUMC. I have written down my thoughts because I figured I would get nervous and forget what I had to say.
My family, I'm married to my wife Maria of 16 years, we have 6 children in between both of us. Our oldest is Jacob 18, Elizabeth 13, and Michael 11. I have 3 older kids from a previous marriage, Deanna 30, Sam 28, and Andrea 25. We live 30 miles east from Fullerton, so how did we end up in Fullerton?
I grew up with a good Christian example, my grandparents. They took me to church since I was born until I was 15. At that time my grandpa told me I was old enough to decide myself if I wanted a relationship with God. Picture a little dog locked up in a house and you open the door and the dog takes ofF running like a bullet; that was me.
I fell away after that; like pastor John says I had my share of sex, drugs and rock & roll. I came back to church in my mid-twenties, broken from all I had been through but still stubborn trying to do it my way. Always knowing God was there for me, I trusted him, but I wasn't seeking him.
I will jump a few years ahead. I had just turned 42 and I started having problems with my stomach; mainly real bad pains it would come and go. In March of 2010, I woke up one day with a real bad pain. Prior to this day I had been drinking heavily. So I thought it might just be an upset stomach. The pain wouldn't go away; a few days later I ended up in the ER. The doctor ordered a cat scan of my stomach and when he had seen the results he gave me the bad news. They would have to perform exploratory surgery. He also told me that it was good probability they would remove a large portion of my colon and that I would have to wear a colostomy bag for six months.
When I woke up from my surgery, I had a colostomy bag and my wife and others thought I would be depressed and would handle it bad. But I was grateful to be alive. God really made himself present in my life. I had peace; I had joy, I was just happy to be alive. Six months later it was time to remove the bag. Surgery was scheduled and I was happy. It seemed surgery went well, I woke up with no colostomy bag. Just a bit later a nurse was checking vitals and saw my blood pressure was dropping, so back in to surgery to repair the leak. Long story short, I made it. It wasn't in God's plans for me to go this soon. Needless to say recovery was very hard. I wasn't attending church regularly.
But God was at work. I received an invitation to the Walk To Emmaus from Alex Zuniga, one of the OUMC Latino members. With no hesitation I accepted the invitation. A life changing experience for me. I heard 16 talks that weekend but there were a few that really hit me: priority, Christian action, and changing our world. I was on fire and ready to do something.
But I didn't have a home church. I received an invitation to come to OUMC and the rest is history; been here ever since, will be 5 years this October. The first ministry I worked in was Second Harvest. I stepped in to help Tommy Appleton, then one day pastor Sergio asked if anyone would be interested in helping feed the homeless in the streets. I immediately raised my hand. My wife made burritos at home and other brothers made coffee and we went out, fed the homeless, and prayed for them, and that was the start of Agape Café.
Earlier I mentioned I live 30 miles east from here. Approximately 5 years ago when we started serving the homeless here at church my two youngest were 6 and 8. Every Sunday morning our wake up time is at 4:30 am to get ready get the kids ready and be at the church by 6am. My kids usually not wanting to eat what we made they would go next door to Jack's and eventually made friends with the manager. They explained to him what we were doing at the church. Ronnie the manager of Jack in the Box donated rice and beans to agape and made a deal with my kids — one plate of Agape food and he gave them a coffee for me and breakfast for them. One day a gentleman took notice and was intrigued, asked the kids what they were doing. So the kids explained. He was interested in helping in Agape café but it took him like a year before actually coming to help. He has been very enthusiastic about helping, he has been helping for around 6 months now and also attending the Latino ministry Service even though he does not speak or understand much Spanish.
Jon Roman saw the need and offered to buy Agape Café a restaurant grade refrigerator and freezer. This was clearly a God thing. Jon is a baby Christian but growing fast. I invited him to the Walk to Emmaus and God jump started him too!
Pastor John has been with us for a year already. Time flies! Since day one he told us his goal was to make disciple makers and has been teaching us the basics. He has told us to look out where God is at work and join in. He has said it over and over — we're a couple of families living under one roof and he has been preaching unity. Pastor John has been mentoring me and we meet once a week for a bible study. 2 Timothy 2:2: and the things you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. I am taking what pastor John has taught me, and teaching others. I lead a small group in study of God's word with Jon Roman and Bobby Smith. But really God leads the study we are teaching each other by sharing.
I want to thank God for Agape café, for those who help organize and shop and do a lot of the leg work during the week. You all know Sharyl has worked real hard in this ministry along with Becky, Bobby, Richard, and thanks for all the donations of food and money and the support from this congregation.
So I like to finish by thanking OUMC for their vision to have a Latino Ministry. I also want to thank pastor Teresa Santillana and pastor Sergio for their work. I think it has been a bumpy ride, but I feel God has big plans to bring unity and better our church.