“I identify with the most is Pastor. God has put in my heart to lead the true spiritual Bible Believing Christians that want, and are filled with the Holy Spirit.”
My Ministry Dream to Be a Pastor
Hello Brothers and Sisters my name is Ernesto Soto. I was born, raised, and live in Los Angeles, CA. I am married with two children, and I was not raised in a Christian home. I am the first born of four children; I was born in 1980. My mother emigrated from El Salvador escaping the Salvadorean Civil War that began in the late-1970s. My biological father was an abusive alcoholic, and went to prison in 1981. My mother and I lived in home for battered women and children until our release in 1982. In that same year she met my step father and that gave us stability. I grew up in some of the most dangerous Los Angeles neighborhoods of the 1980s and 1990s. Neighborhoods like MacArthur Park, Pico- Union, Mid-City LA, East Hollywood, and West LA. My mother separated from my stepdad in 1991, and there began our struggles. My mother became a single mother again and began to work 12 to 16 hour days to provide for us. I was left to my own devices as young as 11 years old. Throughout the years as a kid I witnessed gang stabbings, beatings, gang shoot outs, people doing drugs, and dead bodies as I walked to school with my brothers. Los Angeles Police Department raids on our apartment complex or adjacent buildings were frequent and I had front row seats for the 1992 L.A. Riots.
By 1992, I began to hang out with a local tagging crew, skipping school, writing graffiti on walls, smoking cigarettes, and getting into verbal or physical fights. My Home situation got worse, I was getting drunk, smoking marijuana and sneaking out the house by age 13. I develop the thug mentality, and joined the local gang by age 15. I was shot at by a rival gang, involved in gang fights, drinking, and drugs, parties, girls, and kicked out of school. I would get verbally and physically harassed by the infamous Los Angeles Police Department C.R.A.S.H. Gang Units. I lived my teenage years in this state of sinful rebellion, anger, violence, and the dangerous gang lifestyle.
In the spring of 1999, one of my best friends named Rene received Jesus Christ as his Lord, and Savior. He began to share the Gospel with me for months. I would mock and laugh at him for sharing the Gospel. I almost punched him one day in the face for preaching Jesus Christ. One summer night I was standing outside in front of the apartment building, he came to visit me. I had not seen him since the day I wanted to punch him in the face. Rene asked for forgiveness and gave me a New Testament. I was dumbfounded, he continued to say “God loves you, and Jesus Christ died for us, and I will be praying for you, and will leave you alone.” I did not care for his words, and continued my sinful lifestyle. One night in August of that same year, I came home intoxicated from a party. I sat on my bed taking off my shoes, when I saw the New Testament on the floor by my bed. I picked it up and said out loud sarcastically “So God loves me?” I began to read the Book of Matthew, and the words began to jump out into my heart and mind. I could not put it down. I read the whole New Testament while intoxicated. It was about 7:00 am, and I said out loud to myself after finishing it “Jesus Died for me on the Cross and He’s the Son of God!” I left my apartment and I speed walked to my friend’s apartment down the block. I knocked with excitement, my friend’s brother Oscar opened the door. I told him “I want to go to church!” There began my journey of acceptance of Jesus Christ. I did not formally accept Jesus Christ until November of 1999, in a youth prayer meeting. Upon receiving Jesus into my life, I immediately felt a hot electrical sensation like hot water pouring on top of my head, into my chest continuing to my feet, falling to my knees and I began to cry. In that prayer meeting I had become the new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
After receiving Jesus Christ in my life a spiritual and mental normalcy had returned. I felt no anger or hate but love for lost souls. I began to preach to my “homeboys” and neighborhood youngsters. I enrolled into adult school to get my High School Diploma, and began to be active in church. I was allowed to walk away from the gang due to my testimony of a true conversation to Jesus Christ. After 9/11 I joined the US Army from 2003-2009. I am an Iraq War veteran (2006-07.) I praised God, Almighty for his divine protection in Iraq with close calls to my life.
As I said, I currently live in Los Angeles, California, USA. Those living in the United States know that the atmosphere here is becoming hostile to the Gospel, and especially in large American cities like Los Angeles. But there are wonderful Bible believing Spanish churches that do the will of God here.
My ministry dream is to become a ordained Pastor and establish a Bible believing Church with Sound Doctrine and return to ancient paths through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus Christ to start a Holy Spirit filled revival in Los Angeles, and build up church leaders full of the Holy Spirit for the these lawless days we are living.
This class has renewed my Bible connection with God in the true passion and agape way they teach the Word of God. You can see and feel that at Christian Leaders Institute are led by the Holy Spirit.
The key experience(s) in my life that prompted me to purse ministry was the power of the Holy Spirit that I lived and saw. As a young Christian I saw people healed, saved in their death bed, liberated from evil spirits, and lives changed.
I identify with the most is Pastor. God has put in my heart to lead the true spiritual Bible Believing Christians that want, and are filled with the Holy Spirit.
Some unique challenges in my geographic area are it’s a majority Mexican-American, Mexican and Hispanic neighborhood that is submerged in thug, gang and narco cultures. They are a majority of Liberal Socialists and Roman Catholics mixed with paganism, cultural superstition, and witchcraft. It has been very difficult to share the Gospel especially these past 9 years due to the Democratic community organizers that have filled the Mexican and Hispanic communities with Liberal Socialism. In the name of Jesus Christ all those chains will be broken!
You ask if my Church has supported me in my ministry calling? I am sorry to say “NO.” I attend a Spanish Evangelical Christian Church. Sadly, politics have leaked into Spanish churches in Los Angeles, and during the Presidential Elections of 2016, a lot of Brothers came out Liberal Socialist, Democrats, and anti-American. I have been semi-shunned for defending Conservative Christian values, and the U.S. I praise God that I have support through Christian Leaders Institute, and my mentor Pastor Bob Carter of Harvest Bible University. I also blessed to have a loving and supporting wife and wonderful kids that love the Lord. They encourage me in my ministry with words and prayers.
A CLI scholarship is important to me and my ministry because I have been a struggling veteran, and I have been searching for a Christian Education that is true to our American Christian Heritage. Not just an affordable or free education but a Christian education that John Harvard envisioned in Colonial America and for the future. CLI Scholarship is a blessing for all Christian around the world that seek a higher education but have not the financial means to obtain one. CLI is truly a blessing!
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