God’s path for his church and its impact often isn’t clear to Christ’s followers until we look over our shoulders. Seven years ago, Joaquin Hernandez felt God call him to begin a new church here on the Coastside. With support and encouragement from his brothers, Joaquin and his family prepared a garage in their apartment complex as a place of worship and prayed for people to join the fledgling congregation.
“We prayed for a few months. Nobody came,” Joaquin said. So, they began knocking on doors. “One family came. And then another guy from another house came also. And then another family, and pretty soon, our garage was full of people.” The worship space expanded to three garages, and a fourth garage housed a children’s ministry. “When that happened, our neighbors started to complain because of the noise,” Joaquin said. “And I started to pray to God for a place to meet.”
God answered that prayer one Sunday morning as Joaquin stopped to help a man named Carlo who was unloading a vehicle at the Mariners Shoreline Station location. Carlo invited Joaquin inside and insisted he must meet Pastor Paul. “It was like God was using Carlo to introduce me to the pastor. It was like God planned everything,” Joaquin said.
Joaquin explained his church’s need for a new home to Paul. “He said, ‘Do you want to use this place?’ I wasn’t sure how much he would charge,” Joaquin recalled. “But it was like he was reading my mind. He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to charge you anything.’”
When Mariners moved to its present location, Joaquin and his congregation moved, too. The group of 40 adults and children meet in the worship center on Friday and Sunday evenings. And without the expense of rent for a worship center, they have worked diligently to support other small congregations.
Joaquin says his church’s weekly collection is small, but a chunk of it goes to support small Christian congregations in other countries, including Honduras and Mexico. He has been quick to credit God’s work through Mariners with making those contributions possible, and two of those congregations have responded by adopting the Mariners logo in appreciation.
“Everything that has happened over here with me is due to God,” Joaquin emphasized. “God found me and I became born again. God brought the people to our garage and filled it up. It was God who introduced me to Paul and provided use of Mariners. God connected me to Honduras and Mexico. God is opening doors.”
By Dan Page, Volunteer Storyteller