Like the tribes of Israel wandering through the desert, The Door has spent the last 28 years holding services in seven different rented spaces before they finally found a permanent home. That promise was finally fulfilled last week when The Door Christian Fellowship of McAllen held the groundbreaking for their permanent sanctuary.
“There are so many people to thank for this. They worked so hard to fulfill this promise,” Pastor Roman Gutierrez said. “We came together as a congregation and worked so hard to make this finally happen. With God’s grace and blessing, this dream has finally become a reality.”
Now with more than 400 members, the church started with less than 20 people in attendance. The church was planted in November 1990. The church was pioneered by Joe and Mary Helen Moreno, who came from San Antonio. It was later taken over by Gabriela and Lisa Alonzo.
“In 2012, me, my wife, Nora, and our daughter, Amanda, arrived here,” Gutierrez explained. “In 2012, we started the process of building a home for the congregation.”
For the last seven years, the church has been meeting at a location on Business 83 in McAllen. The church finally was able to buy land on North McColl in McAllen for the new facility. Construction on the 54,000 square foot campus will begin before the end of April and take 10 to 14 months. The church will celebrate its 28th anniversary this November.
Born in the Westside area of San Antonio, Roman Gutierrez’s father died from a heroin overdose. Roman resolved, in his anger and his pain, that someday God would take him the same way. Gutierrez started shooting heroin when he was 11 years old and became an addict. A year later he went to juvenile detention for stealing, and attempted suicide the year after that.
“I shot heroin from the age of 11 to the age of 25,” Gutierrez recounted to Faith magazine. “I died twice on record. Once when I was 15. I punched someone through a window and I cut my arm severely with the glass. I ended up bleeding to death. I died a second time when I was 19. I was stabbed twice by a friend of mine, and they left me for dead. I ended up bleeding to death a second time. I was pronounced dead for five minutes.”
By the age of 25, he was living under a bridge in San Antonio. He had been living under that bridge for 3 months. He shot up all the heroin he had so his torment would end; however, he realized he didn’t want to die. That’s when a miracle occurred.
“On June 13, 1995, I walked inside of a church service. And after many rehabs and programs and psychiatrists, I walked into one church service, and I accepted Jesus Christ in my heart as my Lord and Savior,” Gutierrez said. “I walked out of that service never again till this day, almost 23 years later, to ever touch drugs, alcohol or go back to my gang life again.”
What brought him into that church service on that fateful day?
“My mother! She’d been praying for me for two weeks. She invited me to come to church. She’d invited me for four years, but I’d always say no. That day I was just desperate. I was tired of my life. She took me to that church service in San Antonio on the East Side. And I got gloriously saved. I walked out and I didn’t need rehab or toher drgus to get me off of drugs. It was just a miraculous, power encounter with Jesus Christ,” the Pastor said.
“I started attending The Door Christian Fellowship in San Antonio. My pastor is Richard Ruby. I was discipled under him. He’s been my pastor now for 22 years. There’s more been more than 100 couples that have been launched out of that congregation, here and all over the world. We are a branch from that church, so now we’ve launched 27 couples out of this congregation.”
The McAllen church pioneered churches in Bolivia and Mexico. On Easter Sunday of this year they sent a couple to Cuba.
“They were able to go in there (Cuba),” Gutierrez said. “Preaching is illegal, witnessing is illegal unless someone invites you and opens a house for you. They were able to find someone to do that, and they held their first Bible study on Friday, April 6. We’re going to see what happens from there.”
Gutierrez has pastored 18 years, having pastored in Victoria, TX.
“I’ve evangelized in more than 72 countries, shared my testimony with our missionaries in La Paz, Bolivia. We pastored a church in San Marcos, TX, and we’ve been here now seven years,” he said.
The Door Christian Fellowship of McAllen also has two ministries we will future future editions of Faith magazine. These include the “Choose to Change” Foundation prison ministry and Game Changers, which ministers to veterans.
For information on Door Christian Fellowship of McAllen, visit their website at: www.thedoormcallen.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their offices and worship services are currently housed at 900 E. Bus. 83 in McAllen.