Tag Archives: Victory Outreach

The End of an Era

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It was in 1998 when a young couple made their way from California to Connecticut, accompanied by a group of young ‘on fire’ people. They had left their comfort zone, and everything they were familiar with to start a ministry that –until that moment– was only mentioned in Victory Outreach International’s ‘Mission Statement.’

Pastor Al and Georgina had no model to learn from, or to built after, the only thing they had was a vision, a promise, and the call of God upon their lives. In their own words they said; “We got there, and to be honest we had no clue what we were doing.” It was however the start of the first Urban Training Center in Bridgeport CT, and eventually this couple would also oversee Training Centers in Los Angeles, Tijuana, Cape Town, and Manilla. Since 1998 hundreds of young people separated themselves in the East Coast UTC, completing 6-12 months of ministry training. Many of them find themselves today serving the Lord in their local church, in the mission field, running a Christian Recovery Home, or pastoring a church.

The East Coast UTC not only shaped leaders for the future, but also served many churches in the regions they traveled to. The neighborhoods in those cities did not know what hit them, when the faithful UTC van(s) would pull up, and dozens of radical young people would jump out with bullhorns and flyers, to let everybody know that “Jesus Loves You!” and to invite them for a ‘Live Action Drama on Stage.’ Looking back we not only see the fruit of the UTC among the many students, but also in the couples that had the opportunity to direct the East Coast UTC and how God used the UTC to shape these couples into leaders of the future:

Victory Outreach in Bridgeport, was privileged having the East Coast UTC being part of the church in these amazing 14 years. We know that Chicago and the surrounding cities will be blessed having the UTC in their region. The UTC moved, but the vision continues, and we at VOConn ‘the Church of Champions’ believe that every prayer ever prayed on 381 Jane Street will be passed unto us.

(this blog was originally written December 20, 2012)

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New Location

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Visit our Sunday Celebration Service at:

1596 Boston Ave. Bridgeport CT 06610

(St. Ambrose Hall)

Service Schedule:

  • Sunday Celebration Service @10:30AM (child care provided)

For more information, please visit our website http://victoryoutreachct.org

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Back To The Writer’s Blog

About 9 months ago we became the pastors of VOConn and around that time I wrote my latest blog “The Promises of God.” Taking over a church is a good reason to stop blogging for a season, but after a while you start feeling that urge to pick up your pen and bring an end to that writer’s block. During the last months a lot has changed and happened, and in the next blogs I will try to share some of the things we’ve learned and experienced.

People have said that starting a church is easier than taking over a church. I have to admit, I wouldn’t really know cause I never started a church and this is the first time taking one over. What I do know is, that when you are about to do something you never done before, it is helpful to ask people who did, and were successful doing it. After doing some personal research, listening to advice, and experiences, I applied 3 things that helped me a lot during the transition.

  • Get to know the church

The first thing to do is getting to know the people, and allowing the people to get to know you. You do this by intentionally take every opportunity to spend time together. During those moments you will not only make memories and so creating part of your history, but it will also have a great deal of influence in how people will see the future of the church. In aiming for the future, we can not neglect nor ignore the past of the church and it’s members. The church’s condition today is a result of the past, and in knowing the history of the church we will have a better understanding of the present.

If the new leadership neglects the past, they might repeat the same mistakes that caused the existing problems in the first place, or they will stop the momentum that the church has, by not using the earlier successes they had. I have also seen that new leadership would ignore the past; you might as well tell the people you don’t care, cause that’s how they will feel. It becomes personal when we make them think that we don’t care about; the sacrifices they made, the tears they shed, the memories they have. Acknowledge and value the past, learn from the good, the bad and the ugly. Become “We” and prepare the people to move on towards their future, according to he original plan and purpose that God had from the beginning for the church.

  • Get to know the culture

The second thing we need to do is understanding the church’s culture. Culture either good or bad, has to be confronted carefully and wisely. We define culture by people’s beliefs, values, the way they think, talk, and do things. If the church’s culture is contradicting the gospel then it has to change, no doubt about it, but sometimes it simply challenges our own culture.

The developed culture within the church, is new for those that come in for the first time. Key is not to reject the culture by isolating yourself, in doing this you become an outsider, and outsiders don’t change a thing. Another form of rejection is trying to destroy the culture, making it look like everything about it is bad. You will become a foe to the people instead of their friend. People have the tendency to take it personal when you question their culture. It does not matter, how genuine your intentions are. Adopting to the culture seems very nobel, but is also not commendable, you will become somebody you’re not, and unable to bring healthy changes, because now you are part of the problem. The best thing to do is adapting to the new-found culture, by making the necessary  adjustments to become an insider, without compromising nor losing your identity. Only as an insider you can make the needed changes within the culture, and you do this by teaching and bringing understanding about the changes that have to be made.

  • Get to know the city

Finally the church’s city has to become your city. Get to know the city by studying its history. Discover your city by driving through it and to talk with its residents. In doing this I met some interesting people who truly care about their city, and like to partner with others that share the same feeling. Enjoy your city by what it has to offer instead of what it does not have. Care for it, love it and commit to it, and do not compare it with another city in a coveting way. You will start to see the potential more than the problems the city has. You can not change the city by yourself, even with the help of others it is almost impossible to change it in a life-time, but you can be part of it.

It’s has only been 9 months now, and we have many more ahead of us. During this time I believe we made some mistakes that made the transition rough at times. However overall it was a good and smooth transition, and we have to thank God for that, and the members of VOConn, the Church of Champions. An amazing group of people who accepted, and embraced us, and I know that together we will have a great future, reaching our city with the message of Christ.

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The Promises of God

Victory Outreach Church in Bridgeport, CT

A few months ago we went through a rough time during which I wrote the blog ‘What To Do Now!?!’ It was a season where my wife and I didn’t know what to do nor what would come next. It was a period where everything became uncertain, at times we even felt like giving up. The few thing we could hold on to were our relationship with God, each other, and the promises He had given us throughout the years. It was during this season that I once again wrote down His promises and reminded myself that He is faithful to all His promises.

It was during the Summer of 1992 -the year I gave my life to Jesus- when I received my first promise through Jeremiah 35: 7;

Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents. Then you will live a long time in the land where you are nomads.

At first I did not know what to do with it, but eventually I came to the realization that God had called me to live like a nomad.

nomad: a member of a people who have no fixed residence but move from place to place usually seasonally and within a well-defined territory.

It would take 7 years before this scripture would start to make any sense, when in 1999 we were invited to the Urban Training Center , and the confirmation came through Genesis 12: 1;

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”

In 2000 we left The Netherlands and for 10 years we were living as nomads in Los Angeles, CA and Bridgeport, CT we would travel through the US, visiting many cities and working with students from around the world. We loved living and serving God like this, but after a while the desire to settle grew within us. Our children became older and we understood that they needed more stability, and off course to have your own place to live was a nice idea too. It was during this time that we received another scripture found in Deuteronomy 6:10, 11;

When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you – a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant –

It would still take a couple of years before we saw this promise become a reality, and during the season of uncertainty we received a phone call out of the blue in which were asked to take the role of pastors of the Victory Outreach Church in the city of Bridgeport, CT. We see the faithfulness of God as we are now officially the pastors of this great Church that was founded in 1992 with an incredible congregation, who embraced us from day one. After 10 years of living in tent’s we received a ministry we did not  build, provide, dig, nor plant, but we can finally say we are home! We can’t wait to see what God wants to do through this church, but one thing we are certain of that He will give us promises… and they will come to pass.

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EuroUTC (part 2)

You can have the desire to open a UTC, but besides students (which is not the hardest part) you also need a building. You probably understand our excitement when we heard about the building that Victory Outreach Rotterdam was planning to rent in Rhoon. The fact that the pastors of VO Rotterdam have a vision for a UTC in Europe, made it only easier.

We made our way to Rhoon, which is only a few minutes away from Rotterdam, to look at the property. The place was enormous; a building with 3 departments, room for about 80 residence, an industrial kitchen, chapel, and much more. As we walked through this place we talked about the Potential of it; a Christian Recovery Home for men and women, and off course a UTC. The facility would be rented for at least two years, maybe not a very long time, but for the UTC a good starting point. At least you have one foot in the door, and it gives you time to look for another building, especially when we see that the EuroUTC will draw many students from all around the world.

Pictures of the building in Rhoon

Whenever you do something that builds the kingdom of God, you will face Problems, or in other words Opposition. Jesus experienced this first handed as he was preaching the good news of the kingdom, and His disciples did too. We had the opportunity also, to get a little taste of it. After we made the plans in Rhoon official, the drama started. For the next few months we were featured in newspapers, the Internet, asked for a TV interview, mentioned in a TV Segment, and we had many meetings with city officials and neighborhood residence. Most of the time it wasn’t positive, and the sad thing was that the plans were not opposed, but we as people. The past lifestyle of many of our members was brought up, and that “this type of people will never change” or “they will cause for problems in our nice town”, and the list can go on and on. At one of the meetings a attendee said it nicely; Victory Outreach could’ve been the best group, but at the wrong time and in the wrong place.”

For now the plans for a UTC in Rhoon are on a hold, but the vision for a UTC in Europe is still there. The negotiations are not over yet about the property, so keep VO Rotterdam in you prayers. We need to  pray that God may open this door, or uses this situation to open another one, one that can not be shut. There is a big need, and for sure VO Rotterdam can use another place for their Christian Recovery Homes. And continue to pray with us for that window of opportunity, to see a EuroUTC becoming a reality in this part of the world.

NOTE! the links are mainly in Dutch, my apologies for this.

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EuroUTC (part 1)

The Urban Training Centers is a powerful ministry where young people are being discipled and trained for the ministry. We’ve been privileged to be involved in this ministry since 2000, and during that time we had the opportunity to be directors of both the East Coast UTC and the West Coast UTC. The UTC’s are close to our heart, because it is there were we fell deeper in love with Jesus, and here we also realized the plan and purpose God had for our lives. So, when we had to return to Europe for a season, and we were asked to look for the possibility for a UTC in Europe, we could only say; “Yes!”

The Purpose of the UTC’s is, like I mentioned earlier, to disciple and train young people for the ministry, but also to serve the many churches in their region(s). Off course there is more to it than just that, and I promise you will get a bigger picture by visiting their website and taking the time to read the UTC blogs.

We have traveled to various cities within Europe the last few months, and one thing comes to mind when you visit the churches and meet the people; Potential!

The people in the churches are hungry for more, and all though the opportunity is there to go to a UTC elsewhere, not everybody has the means or possibility to go to US, Mexico or South Africa. When you stand among these young people -in Victory Outreach we call them The GANG – listening to their testimonies, the desires they have, and their love for God, you just want them all to be able to go to the UTC. During this time of separation they can experiencing the Process, as God prepares the individual for the calling that is upon their life. It is in the UTC where they allow God to get a hold of their life, and they get a hold of God. With the program and all the training that the UTC offers, these young people will be able to make an impact in their cities, country and also this continent. Can you imagine a group of on fire young people visiting your church for a few weeks; evangelizing in the streets, ministering at the church services with music, drama, even preaching His Word? I am sure that they, you and your city will never be the same again.

We are in Europe now for 8 months, and this blog series is for all those that have a desire to enroll the UTC, those that want to send students to the UTC, and everybody else that -just like us- wants to see this vision come to pass; a EuroUTC.

If by reading this blog, you like more information concerning the UTC please visit their website, and don’t forget to leave a ‘Shout Out’.

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Journey 2 Berlin

IMG_3098Evangelist Mando Gonzales, Sr.

Sometimes it happens that you are in the position to seize an opportunity of a life time, and  when those rare moments happen; Seize them! That’s what I did this October, when I was able to join Evangelist Mando Gonzales, Sr. on his trip to Berlin, Germany. Mando was scheduled to minister the weekend at Victory Outreach Berlin, a pioneering church that was launched out by Victory Outreach Rotterdam in 2007, and I was privileged to travel with him.

Our transportation would be the I.C.E. International, a high-speed train that would take us from Rotterdam to Berlin in less than 8 hours. Time to see a little bit of the nice scenery of this part of Europe, and to spend quality time with a great man of God. During this weekend I was able to apply the early lessons, imparted in me by my leaders of the Urban Training Center; “Listen and learn!”

“You don’t learn anything from what comes out of your own mouth.”

In moments like these, it is better to be quiet and to let your ears do the work. Listening to the stories about the early years of Victory Outreach, how a small ministry became a world wide movement. To learn and draw wisdom from a man with over 30 years of experience, and to see ‘Lifestyle Evangelism’ in full effect. I have noticed that men like Evangelist Mando don’t do things just to do them, but they are intentional in everything they do.

“Look at the faces, of the people and see”, would Mando say repeatedly, to make me aware of the story their facial expression may tell me about there lives. When people would pass us by and look toward him, Mando would give them a friendly smile and at times say a few words. “We are showing Jesus to them, by doing so”, would he explain to me. Mando was looking for any opportunity to introduce Christ to anybody who would cross his path. It reminded me of the words of St. Francis of Assisi “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words”.

As we arrived in Berlin and exited the ‘Haupt Bahnhof’ we walked into a young man, a drug addict for 10 years. No longer shooting heroin as he told us, but now it was methadone. There Mando witnessed and prayed for him, we were finally in Berlin and God reminded us immediately that these are the people we are called to reach, with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

IMG_3106Mando & Ruud witnessing to a drug addict

We would have many more of these encounters during our stay in Berlin. On the ‘Leopoldplatz’ for example we went out to evangelize among the drug addicts and alcoholics. This square is full with lost souls, hurting men and women without hope. We were able to witness to many of them who were in despair. Some of them acknowledged their situation, but their fear was the pain that comes with ‘kicking the habit’. They were amazed by the testimonies of the men and women from our Christian Recovery Homes, whom God delivered miraculously from their addiction. With unbelief in their eyes they listened to the many examples of God’s healing and delivering power, and with hope in their voices they would ask us to tell them more. We told them how it all started with Pastor Sonny Arguinzoni, Sr, and that it is still happening all over the world. We believe God, as the team in Berlin continues to witness to this group on the ‘Leopoldplatz’ and others, that many of them will experience the same power within their lives.

IMG_3135‘Leopoldplatz’

Berlin is a city with the potential for more than one Victory Outreach Church in the future. The Church in Berlin is still young and the task ahead might even seem to be overwhelming, but with God the impossible becomes possible. The congregation might be small, but is already International: Poland, Philippines, Holland, Pakistan, Suriname and more countries are represented here and with the right strategy Berlin can be the home of a base, a launching path for the rest of Europe to dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.

“The reason so many people never get anywhere in life is because when opportunity knocks, they are out in the backyard looking for four-leaf clovers” -Walter P. Chrysler

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