Sometimes, Baby Steps are Necessary, But the Time Comes When Only ‘BIG STEPS’ Will Do!
In April 2013, Pastors Jerry and Jamee Pineda took their first big step when they drove 1,700 miles south from their home in Medford, Oregon to arrive in La Paz, Mexico. All they had were a few belongings and a vision to plant a church. Neither spoke Spanish, nor did either have experience as senior pastors. The Pinedas didn’t arrive with a team, or have a place to live, or a building for a church. But they were sure of their call to the mission field and confident that God would show them the way – one step at a time. On December 1st, 2013, the doors of Destino Crisitano (Joy Church La Paz) opened with only 3 English-speaking people in attendance. Soon after, the first Mexican family arrived, organically transforming Destino into a bilingual Christian church. Today, nearly 120 people call Destino their home church.
The Church Today
Daily prayer at the Sea of Cortez led to the small but steady steps the Pinedas took to grow Destino Cristiano. (In the process, the pastors created a model for planting bilingual churches in foreign cities with large ex-pat populations.) In 2015, the found it necessary to tear down several walls to expand the sanctuary. In January 2017, more walls were torn down to again increase the sanctuary’s capacity. By then, Bible studies were started, the youth group was thriving, the first missionary intern had arrived, the mission trips program was underway, free English classes began, and the food pantry opened. Also a transportation program was created in conjunction with an outreach program targeting four key areas of La Paz: El Centro, Pedregal, La Pasion and El Camino Real. In January 2018, Pastor Jerry passed away, leaving this labor of love to his wife, Jamee, who now leads the church.
Steps to Move Forward
With the sanctuary at capacity but the church still growing, the search for a larger building began. However, rents were high in the downtown area, and each potential site required a renovation budget of at least $25,000. So the search for the purchase of a building started. But, with just $50,000 raised and saved at Destino, the question was “How?” Then, Pastor Jamee remembered the 3 directives her husband had given her before his passing: “Be Brave. Don’t Panic. Don’t Take Small Steps.” With these powerful words as motivation and confirmation, Pastor Jamee moved forward in faith and located a building to purchase only 3 blocks from the current location. As a result, the BIG STEPS ONLY building campaign was created to raise an additional $65,000 for the purchase of this two-story structure and an additional $50,000 for necessary renovations on both floors.
What Funding Will Do
The Big Steps ONLY building campaign to raise $115,000 will roll out in two phases. Phase 1 requires $65,000 for the purchase. (Foreigners must pay cash when buying property in Mexico.) Phase 11 is to raise $50,000 for remodeling and furnishing the church, starting with the upstairs, which includes 2 bathrooms, 3 classrooms, a large kitchen, a lounge/pastor’s office, and accommodations for visiting pastors. Work will involve major repairs to the roof, demolition and new construction of the visitor’s quarters, repairs to walls and replacement of windows. Downstairs includes improvements to the entrance area, the sanctuary, 2 bathrooms, and a back patio. Work will involve all new plumbing, new walls, new windows, new stairs, new doorways, a stage, lighting, and many other enhancements.
Today’s Destino Cristiano (Joy Church La Paz)
Pastors Jerry and Jamee Pineda established a strong leadership team and together they have establish a permanent Joy Church presence in La Paz. The following is a partial list of the accomplishments:
- Provided a spirit-filled, hope-filled ministry with free counseling opportunities.
- Established Bible studies throughout the city, including weekly studies in recovery centers.
- Instituted a Leadership Training Program and a Leader of Leaders (LOL) program.
- Grew the educational department with Free English classes.
- Increased resources for the support of the Destino Food Pantry. (Later the pantry program will be used to identify candidates for the Skills Center Training Program.)
- Conducted outreaches throughout the city. (Currently, Destino targets and serves four areas in La Paz, including El Centro, Pedregal, La Pasion and El Camino Real.)
- Expanded the youth and young adult ministry called Luces de la Ciudad (City Lights).
- Instituted the Missionary Intern Program (MIP), which provides opportunities for short- and long-term missions. Viable candidates can serve from two months to one year.
- Enlarged the Mission Groups Program, providing group experiences on the Mexico mission field lasting from seven to 10 days.
- Set up the Missionary House for women with space for 3 visiting female interns.
- Established a transportation program, providing free shuttle rides from outreach locations.
- Led recovery groups and provided counseling through the Solid Rock Christian Recovery Program. (The group recovery book and facilitation manual, written by Pastor Jamee, have been translated into Spanish.)
The Future of Destino Cristiano
With the purchase of the building and through the Big Steps Only building campaign, the longer-term vision is underway with the addition of the following programs and projects:
- Creating campus locations in various parts of La Paz.
- Planting churches throughout the California Baja Sur, including bilingual churches in 5 coastal cities and planting Spanish-speaking churches in 14 other inland cities.
- Starting Bible College in Spanish.
- Establishing and operating a Skills Center to provide jobs focused training for single mothers, the disadvantaged, the poor, and those in recovery.
- Initiating a young adult intern program called Internos de Destino based on Zoe Interns at Joy Church Medford (This begins in October 2018.)
- Growing the missions program to host up to 3 mission group experiences per year.
- Expanding the Solid Rock Christian Recovery program throughout the California Baja Sur.
- Setting up a Missionary House for Men.
For additional information please contact Pastor Jamee at