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Highland Avenue Baptist Church

2605 Highland Avenue, National City

Membership: 300

Pastor: Emilio Meza

Age: 55

Born: Coahuila, Mexico

Formation: Golden State University, California

Years Ordained: 15

San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?

Pastor Emilio Meza: I spend all week long planning and writing messages and notes on the sermon and on Saturday I spend four or five hours putting it together. In the vision of what God wants us to do in this life, I apply what the Bible says to us to get a better vision and view of what God wants in our lives.

SDR: Can you think of a time when you gave a sermon that completely flopped?

PE: At the beginning of my ministry I would get angry because things weren’t coming out the way they were supposed to but I would have to try to remember that it’s not about me. As time went by I realized that my work was not about me, but about God’s will. So, anytime that I try to make it my message and what I want for the church — and not what God wants — is usually when I get in trouble. So now I stay on the word of God; that way I won’t go wrong.

SDR: What is your main concern as member of the clergy?

PE: My main concern is saving souls, especially those of my congregation. There are a lot of things happening in their lives and I see it as my job to teach them to get to know God and His promise of salvation.

SDR: Why did you become a pastor?

PE: I did not choose to become a pastor; it was not my decision. Until 18 years ago, I was a contractor and not able to understand why things were going wrong in my life. Then as I began reading scripture, I brought what I read straight from the Bible into my life.

SDR: What is the mission of your church?

PE: The mission of our church is to spread out the gospel to others. We need to be trained here to have a relationship with God and go out and not be scared and be a witness to His salvation. The hope is that we will convince without talking and knock on doors and get to souls one at a time.

PE: In what concrete ways do you fulfill the church’s mission?

SDR: I am a recovering alcoholic, so I’m in a much better place now than before. I was into drugs, alcohol, and pornography. Since coming to Christ, my marriage has been restored and my wife and I help people get off drugs and restore families. I see myself in the mirror and thinking of what I used to be helps me understand those who are still going through it and getting them to believe that there is a better way.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PE: It all depends. Those who have Jesus Christ will go into the presence of God, and if they do not, they’ll wait until they go to hell. But where they go is really their choice while they’re living on Earth. So, they need to have a fruitful life if they hope to go to heaven.

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