When Ramon Velez came to Fort Worth from his native Puerto Rico, it was to seek medical care for his daughter, who suffers from a neurological condition. He didn’t expect that God’s path for him would include pastoring a church.
Now that church, Una Nueva Familia, is experiencing tremendous growth with Velez serving as its lead pastor. Fifty people have received Christ as their Savior in the last two months. To keep up with the growth, Velez said the church has gradually rented four additional locations near the church. One of those additional spaces is for children and includes two classrooms to minister to eight children with special needs.
Ministering to and focusing on children and youth has been one of the means God has used to grow the church, he said. Ultimately, he believes God has blessed the church because it has made its main focus truly reflecting the love of Christ—“something the world cannot offer, nor can it be purchased in a store or found anywhere else but in the body of Christ.” Velez is intentional about promoting trust amongst the congregation and making everyone feel equally welcome.
“The church should excel in making people feel loved,” Velez said.
Velez began as a leader in the church who, over time, was asked to serve as an associate pastor. When the former pastor had to move, he asked Velez to step up and serve as the lead pastor. Una Nueva Familia had about 50 members at that time. After pastoring the congregation for six years, the church now has more than 200 faithful members and regular visitors.
Velez says Una Nueva Familia is not what he would consider a “traditional church.” He has incorporated less formal elements into the worship experience and his facilities, such as painting walls black, using dimmed lighting at points during the worship service, and wearing T-shirts rather than more formal attire. Though his focus now is more on pastoral ministry, he has also used his God-given artistic ability over the years to creatively share the gospel while simultaneously painting with graffiti. He has finished more than 1,000 paintings and, in turn, thousands of people have heard the gospel through that ministry.
“God pulled me out from graffiti street vandalism to use the art of homiletics, combined with graffiti, to preach the gospel,” Velez said. “Instead of shaping with paint, now I try to let God use my testimony, character, my new life, and ministry to shape the people who come to the church.”
Receiving theological training has significantly helped Velez, who holds a Master of Theological Studies degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He also has a bachelor’s degree in graphic arts, which has helped his evangelistic ministry for 12 years and also with his graphic work for the church..
Velez said God has used his wife, Rosa Miranda, to help him use his creativity to serve the Lord. They serve the church together alongside their two children. Among the wise counsel he said she has given him is to embrace the criticism that may come from doing ministry in non-traditional-yet-creative ways.
Citing Isaiah, who was stripped and left barefoot for three years (Isaiah 20:3), Velez said, “I do whatever God asks me to do to proclaim His message of salvation. And if through the ministry God has commissioned me to do one person is saved, no matter how radical what I do may seem, glory to God. My fervent and constant prayer is that people will continue to come to church and surrender at the feet of Christ.”