Boxer-turned-pastor testifies to God’s abundant grace

Frances and Joe Barrera have started three churches in Texas, including Abundant Grace Church in Plainview. (Photo courtesy of Joe Barrera)

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PLAINVIEW—Training as a boxer taught Joe Barrera a clear life message: Work hard with what you have and perfect it. But as a follower of Christ, Barrera believes whatever he has belongs to God, who called him to ministry.

Since Barrera and his wife Frances committed their lives to serve God, they have started three churches in Texas, including Abundant Grace Church in Plainview, where he is pastor.

Like boxing, ministry takes a toll, Barrera acknowledged, but he finds continuing refreshment in witnessing God at work.

‘God has provided’

Barrera started Abundant Grace in 2011. Since then, God has opened doors for the ministry to grow, the couple agreed.

“God has provided every step of the way,” she said. “Along the way, God has placed people to support us in ministry.”

Five years ago, a person donated a building at a prime location near Interstate 27, they noted.

“God has us in a place where he is pulling the church,” he said. “We have seen how God calls people to follow Christ and serve him.”

Barrera works both as a car salesman and as pastor. His wife is vice president of a bank in Plainview. She also serves as multicultural consultant with Unión Femenil Misionera of Texas.

So, they both work hard to find a balance between their ministry, their family and their secular jobs.

The Barreras often begin hours of ministry after finishing long days on their other jobs.

“We know the vision God has given us is a big one, and we also know we must be faithful,” Barrera said.

In an area where most Hispanics either attend a Catholic church or a megachurch, Barrera said, God continues to provide what they need at the right time.

“God just wants us to walk out in faith,” he noted. “It’s amazing to see what he has done here.”

Nurture and challenge new leaders

Like in boxing, ministry requires consistency, Barrera understands. That is what he and his wife aim to accomplish, he said.

Pastor Joe Barrera baptizes a new Christian at Abundant Grace Church in Plainview. (Photo courtesy of Joe Barrera)

They hope new servant leaders will commit their lives to Christ, while also receiving the mentoring they need, Barrera added.

“We want to continue to grow and challenge new leaders here,” he said.

Abundant Grace has a passion to support missions, and the church’s goal now is to reach more people in Plainview, his wife added.

Whether in cooperation with Convención Bautista Hispana of Texas, local churches or by itself, Abundant Grace seeks to reach more people in Plainview, Barrera said.

“We know God has called us to work together, so we must keep doing what he called us to do,” Barrera said.

Although sometimes ministry demands a lot of ministers, and sometimes it is hard to see significant change, Barrera believes God always is at work.

“If we get tired, we have to remember God has never stopped being faithful, and he continues to transform lives,” he said. “At the end, we must remember the one who is in control of the ministry is God.”

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