By Michael J. ARVIZU
Angel Jimenez, 35, owner of La Cabañita restaurant in Montrose, never considered himself a man of faith.
His faith journey, though, would begin when his parents divorced about nine years ago. After the divorce, his mother Patricia fell into a deep depression. At the height of her depression, Jimenez’s mom received an invitation from a cousin to attend a religious retreat organized by Casa Sobre la Roca (House Over the Rock) ministries based in Mexico City, with the hopes that she would “get to know Christ and his word,” Jimenez said, “and make her see things in a new light.”
Reluctantly, she went. Several days later, after learning the power of prayer and receiving a “crash course in scripture,” Jimenez said, she returned to the United States a changed woman.
She secluded herself in her room for three weeks. There, she began to pray for her ex-husband, asking God to change the man she knew in the hopes of taking him back.
At the same time, Jimenez’s father Jose prayed that his ex-wife would give him another chance. He asked her for forgiveness, and she accepted on the condition that he would change.
“Well, I told the Lord that, if you give me another chance, I would owe him my life and I would serve him,” Jimenez recalled his father saying. With those words, Jimenez’s mother and father launched a Bible study out of their home, an official branch of the Casa Sobre la Roca ministry in Mexico City.
Over time, the branch grew from 10 to 20 people. Later to 50 people. The branch expanded and evolved. Before long, the branch had grown to about 200 people worshipping every Sunday at Lanterman Auditorium in La Cañada, where it is based today.
Jimenez’s wife Angie was a churchgoer, but she did not read the Bible. In retrospect, Jimenez said, their lives weren’t really impacted by faith. Angie, knowing that her husband did not believe in God and wishing to expand her own faith, convinced her husband to go to the same retreat in Mexico his mother had gone to.
“Whatever,” Jimenez recalled saying. “[Angie] wanted us to go so that I would believe.”
Angie’s outpouring of her faith to her husband, though, seemed to conflict with Angel’s aloofness from his own faith at the time. It is then that she decided to back off and simply pray for him and be a good wife to her husband.
“He believed, more or less, but continued to question his faith,” Angie said. “I felt my calling was so great; I fell in love with God.”
Jimenez, in turn, after returning from the retreat with his wife, prayed to God outright that he, for a year, would obey and be faithful in return for giving him faith and showing him the truth behind his word.
“It was grace that allowed me to give faith a chance,” he said. “Because I had no reason to believe back then.”
Over time, Jimenez recalled, small things began to occur in his life that he had no explanation for.
Today, Angel and Angie are youth pastors of the La Cañada branch of Casa Sobre la Roca ministries.
“We make sure the youth feel full and complete inside without the need to go anywhere else,” said Angie. “If they are interested in music, they can join the worship band; if they like sports, we can create activities for them such as backpacking or camping.”
She and her husband, Angie said, focus on making religion a way of life for the youth, not just a set of rules and restrictions.