Listening to the word of God with a full stomach
California congregation’s ministry expands with church loan from Everence
Pastor Romeo Castro of Misión Cristiana Fe y Compasión in Los Angeles, California, believes “it’s harder to hear the word of God on an empty stomach.” With an Everence® church loan, Castro expanded a ministry at his church that serves both the congregation and the neighborhood.
Castro is a Mennonite Brethren pastor who dedicated his life to planting churches. He moved from El Salvador to California 16 years ago and didn’t let the move stop his ministry. Four years ago, he founded the Misión Cristiana Fe y Compasión (Christian Mission, Faith and Compassion), in his neighborhood, Van Nuys.
"After noticing that some people at the church were dealing with financial limitations, I started serving meals after every Sunday service to the people who attended the church,” said Castro. Four years later, the congregation has grown from around a dozen to 20 to 30 people. A year ago, Castro decided to expand his food ministry to the community around the church also struggling financially.
Castro wanted to start a program delivering low-cost meals in the community. To make it work, he needed new kitchen equipment and a van.
With his degree in microbusiness, Castro helps manage the church’s finances, and he knew the church would need a loan for the big purchases. After several organizations didn’t want to take a chance on him and the church, Castro reached out to Everence. Martin Navarro, Everence Church Relations Representative, connected Castro with Bill Warrell, Everence Business Development Officer, who worked with the church to get a loan specifically for churches expanding their ministries.
“To us, Everence was the door God opened so that we could reach our goals,” said Castro.
Now that the church has purchased the industrial stove and van, Castro delivers meals to people in the neighborhood at a discounted price. Each meal also includes an attached Bible verse.
“The van also helped solve another problem,” said Castro. “We have people who attend our church who don’t have a means of transportation and don’t have public transportation nearby, and this was preventing them from attending church. The van serves three purposes: buying food in Los Angeles, distributing the food to the community, and picking up passengers for church.” The van has brought an almost 50 percent increase in church attendance.
After getting the loan for his church about a year ago, Castro became a volunteer Everence advocate, bringing stewardship education to his church.
“I was inspired by Castro’s entrepreneurial spirit as pastor; he is doing business as a ministry,” said Martin.