Church Planter Heart
Read the story of how God redeemed Juan Figueroa from his many trials and gave him a church planter heart for witnessing:
My name is Juan Figueroa. I was born in 1978 and raised in Romeoville, IL. I was raised in the Catholic faith from a very young age, but I wanted to attend a different church. My father didn’t approve at the time but after a few Sunday school lessons, Bible studies and Awana club meetings, I started witnessing to my father about what was happening to me. I’d caught a spark I didn’t know how to turn off and it eventually grew to be a church planter heart for God.
My father was an alcoholic and when he saw me after he came home from the bars, I was his target. I tried everything to get away, but I was still very young. I used God and church as my outlet at that time. My pastor from back then invited me to attend Indiana Bible College. This place had children coming from all over. They preached the Word straight from the Bible and there was nothing better than when I was there. The worse part was the drive back home because I knew what was going to happen. My father would be furious that I had been gone for hours, but I never stopped going no matter what happened to me. Then my father got sick, and I stopped going to church. I felt as if I’d failed.
I felt Christ was in my heart telling me not to give up, even though going to school was rough. I had bullies older than me pushing me around until I could no longer take it. But when I finally stood up for myself I did it in the way my father would have, and I hated myself for it. I knew I was doing wrong, but I felt lost. During high school, I decided to move away to Bainbridge Island, WA with a friend of mine. I enrolled myself in an alternative school named Strawberry Hill. I stayed in Washington until I graduated, but moved back to Illinois due to my father becoming even more ill from his drinking. I went right back to my old friends and my old ways, and I avoided church at all cost. I met my first wife outside of the church, and I can only blame myself for my first marriage and how it ended, though I would never regret my two sons. After many divorce court battles, I ended up losing everything, including my two jobs and all my finances.
I slept in a cardboard box on good days, and on bad days I slept on a yellow slide in the park as long as the cops didn’t make me leave. It was like this for almost three years. I was at a complete loss and wanted to end my life. I wanted to see my kids but I was not allowed unless my ex-wife said I could.
In 2005-2006, I ask the Lord to come back into my heart and guide me in what he wanted me to do. He gave me a church planter heart for him. It was a very hard road to come back, but slowly, it happened. With the Lord’s guidance, I was able to find a job, then a car. I didn’t stop talking to and praising the Lord no matter how my day was. I praised him when things were bad and good. I was sharing the Word with guys at work and they were getting saved.
In 2007, I was working two jobs, I finally got an apartment in Warrenville, IL, and I met my second wife, Norma. A few years later we were married. God blessed me with her even though I didn’t feel worthy. She is a woman of faith, I need her more than she will ever know. I spoke with the Lord to help me to understand my wife truly and to love her better, no matter what battles we may have.
After a few years, we decided to move near family in south Texas. We have two handsome boys and a beautiful daughter. I still have a ton of learning to do to be a better man and even more to become a better husband.
In 2016, I was diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis, and in the beginning of 2017, I had carpal tunnel surgery, which hasn’t repaired anything. I have been praying for God to not give up on me and to lead me where ever he wants. I have totally surrendered my life to him and he has strengthened my church planter heart for him. God has been with me through all my battles and I want to finally be able to do anything for him. I feel so good about my life right now even though I can barely type this.
All I want is to love my God and connect with others so we can all share his Word. My church planter heart wants to open my own church, even if it is only a Bible study or a Sunday school at first. I know the Lord has something great in store for this little town and I pray every day for guidance. I want to be able to pay this forward once we are able to. Our vision is to get the youth to attend some of these classes. I feel awesome about this and I want to thank Christian Leaders Institute and its supporters for this great opportunity.
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