When Rigo and Mercedes Garza began attending the Cielo Vista church ten years ago, Rigo secretly hoped he could simply attend church, listen to the sermon, worship God, and tithe without having to get too involved in additional activities or leadership. He’d been serving bi-vocationally in ministry for many years and was ready for a break.
It wasn’t long before God confronted him about his attitude. Rigo asked for His forgiveness and prayed that God would help him to be more sensitive to follow His leading and serve wherever needed. Little did he know that God already had something in mind.
The following Sunday, one of the church leaders pulled Rigo aside and asked if he would be interested in leading a new Sunday school class for Spanish-speaking adults. Rigo was very surprised that God was leading him back into ministry, but he obeyed the calling and started a class called “Respuestas” (Answers).
After several years, the Respuestas class grew enough that, with the blessing of Cielo Vista, they became an independent church pastored by Rigo. God honored Rigo’s faithful service by blessing the church and soon opening up new doors of ministry for Rigo and Mercedes; this time, their focus was on helping marriages and families in the Spanish-speaking community.
The Garzas quickly realized that biblical marriage training was a much-needed ministry in their church and in surrounding congregations. “We need healthy families in order to have a healthy church,” says Rigo. With some training and encouragement from Leonel and Miriam Motta, the FamilyLife leaders of Latin America, the Garzas began planning and hosting FamilyLife seminars throughout Spanish-speaking congregations in the US, using mostly the Art of Marriage® (AOM) video conference and a marriage seminar designed for pastors called “First Family First.”
God continued opening doors for their ministry, and they were blessed to hear numerous stories of how God was working. One woman who attended AOM with her husband shared that after 22 years of marriage, she was able to express her love to her husband like never before thanks to what she had learned in the seminar. Another couple arrived at the AOM with anger on their faces. They left immediately after the event, so the Garzas weren’t sure whether they had liked the seminar or not. They ran into the husband the next day, and he shared that he had arrived at the event feeling sad and hopeless and left renewed, giving thanks to God.
Invitations began arriving for the Garzas to plan events in churches in the US and Mexico, and their ministry has continued to expand and bear fruit. But perhaps most touching to the Garzas is the positive effect this ministry has had on their own marriage and family. Recently, on their way to a marriage conference, they received a text from their oldest daughter wishing them the best and praying for a successful event. She concluded the text with, “I’m very proud to have parents who serve the Lord.”
The Garzas’ ministry is leaving a lasting legacy for their children, grandchildren, and countless couples throughout Spanish-speaking communities. Rigo humbly acknowledges that their success is all due to God’s grace as he quotes Psalm 127:1a: “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”