4235 National Avenue, Southcrest
Pastor: Al Valdez
Born: Hollywood, CA
Formation: Latin American Bible Institute, La Puente, CA; Facultad Teologia, Montebello, CA; Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA
Years Ordained: 15
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Al Valdez: My favorite sermons to preach on are the different characters of the Bible. When I am able to explore the lives of the different Old Testament and New Testament characters, to me, they are the greatest models we can follow. Their unique stories give hope to those who are facing challenges to their character and destiny. Some pleased God and some failed God — we are able to learn from their successes and failures. Our generation needs those models to follow; they are very relevant and impactful today.
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PV: These days, in our attempt to identify with the world in which we live, I am afraid we as Christians have compromised our identity. Because of that, we’ve watered down our authority and power in our churches and our community.
SDR: Why did you become a minister?
PV: I felt the calling of God at a young age. I came from a broken family, and I didn’t know anything about God or church. But when I walked through the doors of Victory Outreach in 1993 in La Puente, I felt love like I never felt my entire life. And it wasn’t just God; it was the people. They were for real and I could identify with them. I felt a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose, so I became very dedicated. I often say, God saw something in me that I could not see in myself….
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PV: The mission of Victory Outreach is to reach the inner cities of the world with the message, hope, and plan of Jesus Christ. Our local mission is to reach, train, and release believers back into their community. We have planted eight churches and we support missions all over the world with that strategy. We’re seeing a generation of young people begin to rise up in our churches, answering the call of God to go right into the ministry.
SDR: Where is the strangest place you ever found God?
PV: I’ve traveled to 40 countries around the world and I’ve seen the Lord move in many different ways, but one of the more profound places I’ve seen God show up was in Rikers Island Prison in New York City in 2000. We were invited to do our drama in the prison gym in front of about 500 inmates. To see these guys recently put in prison watching a 45-minute presentation and responding to a salvation invitation was amazing. Pretty much every person responded to give their life to Jesus.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PV: The Bible is clear about it. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ Jesus is the only path to salvation and to eternal life and heaven. … God doesn’t send anyone to Hell, but we do send ourselves when we reject this simple truth. The important thing to know is that God will love you through every choice and circumstance, and it breaks His heart when people reject Him.