Note: This series of Holy Week devotions is taken from Dr. Albert Reyes’ upcoming book, The Jesus Agenda: Becoming an Agent of Redemption. All devotionals are posted here.
Sunday, April 5: Redeemed and Ready
My story of redemption began in the early 1930s on a farm near Snyder, Texas. My paternal grandparents, José Maria Reyes and Francisca Rodriguez Reyes, carved out a living with their nine children by picking cotton in the fields of West Texas as migrant workers.
My father recounts the story of picking cotton all day long with the hopes of filling a 100-pound burlap sack of cotton for 75 cents pay and living off of beans and tortillas three times a day.
During one of those harvest seasons, a missionary/church planter named Rev. Edward P. González gathered migrant workers and their families to hold evangelistic services. In those services my paternal grandmother, Francisca Rodriguez Reyes, opened her heart to the good news of the gospel of salvation. She prayed to receive Jesus Christ as her savior and was baptized there in the watering hole used for the cows and horses on the farm. My grandfather also prayed to receive Christ as his savior sometime later.
Then one by one, each of my uncles and aunts came to saving faith in Jesus. My grandfather, a first-generation native Texan and an orphaned child, was now grafted into the family of faith.
The Reyes family settled in Corpus Christi, Texas and began attending Primera Iglesia Bautista Mexicana, the First Mexican Baptist Church of Corpus Christi. My father’s pastor and discipler at Primera was Dr. Ignacio E. González, who graduated with his classmate and friend, President Lyndon B. Johnson at Texas State University (formerly Southwest Texas State University), in San Marcos, Texas.
My father, Agustín Reyes, later married Gloria Garcia of Corpus Christi, and they began attending Primera. My mother was raised in the Roman Catholic faith tradition and began attending Primera with my father. By the time I was born, my mother prayed to receive Christ as her savior, was baptized and became a member of Primera.
After moving to Southern California in the 1960s, we became members of Memorial Baptist Church where Rev. Leonard Roten and later, Rev. Bill Thornton, were our pastors.
I remember the day I came home from church and asked my mother how I could know my sins were forgiven and how I might have eternal life. She shared her faith and showed me God’s plan for my salvation. I opened my heart to Jesus and my parents led me in a prayer to receive Christ as my savior at home. The next Sunday, I shared my new faith with Pastor Thornton and the church. About a year later I was baptized into the fellowship of Memorial Baptist Church of Rialto, California.
My family returned to Corpus Christi in the early 1970s and we became members of my father’s home church at Primera Corpus. Dr. Rudy Hernández was pastor when we first arrived at Primera. His evangelistic zeal shaped my thinking about my responsibility to share the good news of Jesus with friends and family. He was followed by Dr. Rudy Sánchez as pastor at Primera.
At the age of 15, I answered a call to vocational ministry under Dr. Sánchez’s ministry. He immediately put me to work and asked me to lead the children’s service on Sunday mornings. By the time I was 16, he invited me to preach my first sermon at Primera.
I remember Dr. Sánchez’s heart and passion for the entire community, beyond the congregation he served. He was focused on developing relationships with leaders of other faiths as well as business and political leaders. He saw himself as their pastor, too.
After I left Corpus Christi for college and seminary, I later came to appreciate Dr. Sánchez’s passion for the least of these, the alienated, the marginalized, the oppressed, the orphan and the widow. He seemed to always be concerned with the neglected, the underprivileged and the economically-challenged.
I learned later that he was an orphaned as child. His passion for the poor and his calling to the community-at-large continues to shape my thinking and ministry today. I can see the story of redemption written all over my past, my calling, my journey in ministry, my mentors, pastors and coaches and my responsibility today as the leader of a vast ministry.
So as I celebrate Christ’s resurrection this Easter Sunday, I celebrate his claim on my life. I offer myself, ready for his service because of his redemption.
Reflection: Would you offer yourself, all over again, to serve our Risen Savior?
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