SCHULENBURG As soon as Larry Gutiérrez stepped out of the car, the enemy bombarded him with negative attacks.
“You can’t do this.”
“I felt the weight of the negative thoughts deep inside my spirit, but the Holy Spirit encouraged me to cross the street to the median where the homeless man sat,” Gutiérrez said.
But the closer he got, the more lies the enemy threw at him.
“What are you doing? Everyone’s looking at you and laughing at you. This guy doesn’t care what you have to say.”
But Gutiérrez kept walking. Then, when he was only about 10 feet from the homeless man, the negative voices suddenly went away and the surrounding city noise seemed to instantly go quiet.
Following God’s direction that had brought him there in the first place, Gutiérrez handed the man a Bible, showed him where he highlighted John 14:6 and Romans 10:9 and gave him something to eat.
That was the beginning of Gutiérrez’s assignment to reach out to the homeless in Houston.
“Stand firm and the devil will flee,” Gutiérrez said. “He doesn’t want to spend a lot of time on you if you’re going to be persistent. If the Holy Spirit tells me to go, it’s a no-brainer. I’ve got to go in his name. All authority and power has been released in his name and while adversity comes from the enemy, it’s not going to bother me because darkness is revealed in the light. It will take off when it’s called out in the name of Jesus.”
Gutiérrez, a member of First Baptist Church of Schulenburg, has obeyed God’s calling on his life to do street and neighborhood evangelism for the last 19 years. God has specifically led him to poverty-stricken neighborhoods, to people on the outskirts of society. Gutiérrez has spoken with more than 1,000 people and has witnessed 800 people receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord, including drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, gang members, homeless people and even some who later admitted they were contemplating suicide before he knocked on their doors with God’s message of hope.
“Wherever the Lord leads me, that’s where I’m going,” said the 65-year-old Gutiérrez. “It’s all about being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. If you remember, Jesus said, ‘I only do what the father says.’ I do the same; I only do it if the Lord lays it on my heart. I don’t add to it or take away. I don’t knock on every door. I ask, ‘Lord, where do you want me to go?’ I keep that communication going with him and he directs my route to where his message can make the greatest impact on people’s lives.”
Gutiérrez’s ongoing conversation with God began soon after he accepted Jesus in the summer of 2000. He and his wife started attending the Sunday morning service at First Baptist when he felt God put it on his heart to walk the streets and talk to people about the Lord.
“Inside I was like, ‘Who? Me? I think maybe you’d rather have that guy over there. That deacon for sure would be better for you, Lord.’” Gutiérrez said. “At 46, I was a baby Christian with no knowledge. I started looking around the room because all I needed was one guy who had a passion for the Lord who could do this for him. That’s when I understood that he was talking to me.”
And though Gutiérrez didn’t realize it when he first chose to obey God’s calling, he now sees how God prepared him for the many encounters he’s had with people in the last 19 years.
For 30 years prior to his salvation, Gutiérrez said he had been an alcoholic with anger and trust issues. He understood dysfunction, he understood depression and he certainly understood hopelessness.
“But the Lord restored me and he restored my relationships,” Gutiérrez said. “That’s the message the Lord gave me to tell people. He said to tell them: ‘I have not forgotten you and I love you.’ Restoration is possible through Jesus.”
Gutiérrez recalled going up to the house of an older man one day. The man’s skin suggested he’d worked outdoors all this life and his body seemed beat up by life.
“I always say who I am and then I say, ‘I would like to talk to you about the Lord,’” Gutiérrez said. “The man said, ‘Naw, the Lord doesn’t want anything to do with me.’ I replied, ‘Let me tell you this: he laid it on my heart to knock on your door just to let you know that he hasn’t forgotten you. He loves you.’ The old man began to cry and said, ‘I thought he’d forgotten me.’ I said, ‘No, he loves you brother. He loves you so much.’”
Despite some health concerns, including a quadruple bypass surgery that slowed him down a bit, Gutiérrez is planning to visit another trailer park in a nearby town in the coming months.
“This is not for everybody, but we are all supposed to be out there in obedience,” he said. “The key is to not let fear or doubt penetrate your thoughts. There will be rejection so don’t get discouraged when it happens. Faith is about going forward. Don’t retreat. Keep on going.”