FACES & PLACES: Pastor founds ministry, recognized with award

Editor’s note: This story published in The Clanton Advertiser’s Faces & Places 2015. Copies are still available at the Advertiser office, located at 1109 Seventh St. S. in Clanton (across Hwy. 31 from the Winn-Dixie shopping center). Or, read a digital version of the magazine here.

Thirty years ago, the Rev. German Gomez came to the United States from Vera Cruz, Mexico seeking job opportunities.

He never thought he would be traveling back to Mexico as a missionary years later, nor did he foresee his life as a pastor in Clanton.

Much to Gomez’s surprise and delight, his relationship with God has “completely turned his life around” for the better, and now he’s helping others build their own relationships with their families and the Lord.

The Rev. German Gomez partnered with the First United Methodist Church in Clanton in 1999 to found the San Juan Mission, an outreach ministry that serves the multicultural community. Gomez was recently chosen as the Denman award recipient for his “outstanding evangelism.”

The Rev. German Gomez partnered with the First United Methodist Church in Clanton in 1999 to found the San Juan Mission, an outreach ministry that serves the multicultural community. Gomez was recently chosen as the Denman award recipient for his “outstanding evangelism.” (Photo by Stephen Dawkins)

German (her-MANE) Gomez, 50, partnered with the First United Methodist Church in Clanton to found the San Juan Mission, an outreach program originally formed to provide the Spanish-speaking community with a way of learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Founded in 1999, the mission provides worship services, discipleship classes, youth classes and children’s church, as well as training for pastors and missionaries in order to expand the San Juan Mission.

Located at 207 8th St. N. in Clanton, the San Juan Mission building is located one block south of the Clanton First United Methodist Church sanctuary, on the northeast corner of Second Ave. N. and Eighth St. N.

Although the mission was originally founded for the Hispanic community, the group is now multicultural in that it serves all ethnicities and cultural backgrounds.

With approximately 140 members, the San Juan Mission has grown from a mere seven members in its beginning, offering services such as counseling, English language classes and other resources in addition to the church services.

As a missionary, pastor and founder of the organization, Gomez has been serving God’s people ever since he dedicated his life to the Lord.

In observance of the improvements he’s made, Gomez was awarded the Harry Denman Evangelism Award for United Methodist clergy in June at the Alabama-West Florida annual conference in Montgomery.

The Denman award, announced each year at the conference, honors outstanding evangelism among clergy, laity and youth.

There is no question about Gomez’s outstanding evangelism, as the ministry he helped found has now spread to seven more locations, with two more currently in the making.

With sites in Montgomery, Mobile, Wetumpka, Lomax, Tuscaloosa and Mexico, the mission has grown to over 1,000 people.

While the mission is continuously growing statewide, the leaders of the hub station in Clanton focus primarily on the needs of the community in Chilton County and surrounding areas.

By going into the communities and seeking new members for the church, Gomez and other clergy are able to witness to residents of the county, although they may not enter the mission’s building.

Because the mission is a outreach branch of the First United Methodist Church in Clanton, the two work together to offer community events such as Vacation Bible School, mission trips, youth leadership programs, prayer groups and numerous other happenings in the all-encompassing church community.

Through this partnership and the mission’s ample services, there is something for every age group at the San Juan Mission.

According to Gomez, the most satisfying part of his job is “seeing the change in people” after they are saved, especially because he’s undergone a drastic transformation himself over the course of his life.

“When I came to the U.S., I came for work. I had never heard of Jesus Christ,” Gomez said. “My boss invited me to church, and I built a relationship with God. Thirteen years later, I became a missionary.”

Gomez said he wants to be a living example for people and witness to them, so that they can become better citizens and build their own relationships with God.

“Our goal in the San Juan Mission is to teach people how to be better fathers or mothers, husbands or wives, and children,” Gomez said. “We’re restoring families for the kingdom of God.”

A husband and father of three children, Gomez stays busy between his family and the growing mission, which is currently adding locations in Prattville and Montgomery.

Gomez said the progress and expansion of the mission’s community is what keeps him going on tiring days.

“It’s very exciting when I see alcoholics become sober or drug dealers being delivered from their habits,” Gomez said. “Just seeing new families and people just having better lives is worth it.”

The San Juan Mission stresses the openness of their ministry, in that the church offers personal interpreters for Spanish-speaking visitors, as the sermons are given in English, as well as several worship sessions throughout the week, marriage and family counseling, English classes and several other services.

Because convenience is a prime element of the mission’s goal, childcare is offered during worship services, and a playground was recently added to the location.

Gomez said if he and the other members of the mission could not provide a certain service needed, he could promise that they have the resources to get people the help they need, no matter the issue.

“No matter what kind of circumstances people are under, we want to provide a community that is accepting,” Gomez said. “It was very overwhelming when I came to the U.S. without the family circle I had in Mexico. We want to make any transition easier, whether that’s coming to the country or coming to church.”

Gomez shared that his time at work is usually spent thinking about his next sermon or the mission’s next project.

If Gomez can achieve one thing in his career, he said that it is sharing how God can “fill people up” and provide them with the best life possible.

“I just want to express to everyone that He can fill you up and give you what nothing else can,” Gomez said. “When I found Jesus, he filled me up completely. I was lonely, but then I was saved, and I found peace and comfort. He filled everything that was missing in my life.”

The mission offers worship services at 11:30 a.m. on Sundays and 7 p.m. on Mondays; men’s discipleship training at 7 p.m. on Monday and women’s discipleship training at 7 p.m. on Wednesday; and Bible study at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

For more information on the San Juan Mission, visit www.cfumc-sanjuan.org or call Clanton First United Methodist Church at (205)755-0490.

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