LIVE with Pastor David Trujillo—PART 2
Compiled by Sherri Spencer
This is Part 2 of a live interview with David Trujillo, pastor of Calvary Chapel South Los Angeles (SOLA), CA. He and his wife Sonia have three children, ages 17, 21, and 27. Calvary Chapel Magazine Editor and interviewer Tom Price had ministered with David at the urban ministry conference hosted by Buddy Osborn at the ROCK Kensington, in the inner city of Philadelphia, PA. Don’t miss Part 1 of this interview, as David discusses how his inner-city church is reaching out during the COVID-19 pandemic and current racial unrest.
Share your thoughts on suburban churches investing in urban church ministries. In reality, urban people are giving, but they have trouble supporting their pastor to be full-time, and it’s really hard not to be full-time and do a good job.
The Lord is faithful. Pastor Pancho Juarez (The Ark Montebello, CA) said, “If it’s the Lord’s will, it’s His bill.” We’ve heard [Pastor Chuck Smith] say, “Where God guides, He provides.” So here, the Lord has been good. My wife, Sonia, is a paralegal, and [her job] allows me to go full-time. So, I’m in full-time ministry here, and there are people that support this ministry. In fact, my brother, John Randall [pastor of Calvary Chapel San Juan Capistrano, CA], has been a blessing to us. God bless him, but the need is there, and we know the Lord provides. The Lord gives us just enough to keep us reliant on Him.
I went overseas to do ministry about two years ago to Colombia, and we went to a conference. It shocked me—and left me in awe, as well—to hear them talk about how they are going to fly into the United States to do missions. And here we are, coming here [to Colombia] to do missions, and they are talking about going to the United States to do missions. I was thinking, Lord, what am I doing here?
I am [already] in a mission field because the inner city is a mission field. I believe I was the first Calvary Chapel in the inner city here in Los Angeles. But I didn’t come here to plant a church. I came here because I lost my job in [the California city of] Ontario, and I wanted to stay at Calvary Chapel Chino Valley, CA. But I was on fire for the Lord. I was evangelizing like crazy and God began to use me to bring many of the youngsters to the Lord on the basketball court. I would ask them to play basketball, and after we played, I shared the Gospel.
We got to a point where we started doing Bible studies; when we least expected it, we were actually meeting [with 80 people] in a home right there in Watts. I remember asking my pastor, David Rosales in Chino Valley, “What do I do?” He said, “You have a calling, David.” I thought, Whatever that means. People started tithing and that’s how we got planted here.
It has been about eight or nine years [backwards] from today, where I was still fixed on leaving L.A. In other words, [I thought], I’m just here and I’m going to go back over there and start figuring out God at Chino Valley. Then finally God said, No, David, You’re going to stay right here. So now I’m like, OK, Lord, I get it. I almost cry at the thought that God would call me out. So, we are here, you know, where the need is.
We don’t get the same tithes as churches in the suburban areas, so we’re dependent on the Lord. One thing I do want to share is that the Lord does provide, but He also uses people to provide it through. He uses these people when they see that God is doing a work, and people can be part of that as they give to the ministry. So, God does provide, but let’s not forget that He uses people as they pray and seek the Lord [about] where to distribute their funds.
Can you share with us your testimony of coming to the Lord?
At a very early age, we were brought up in a Christian home. I think back then, a way to get at our dad was to do something that we knew he hated—gangs. And because we were brought up around that area, some of the guys from the hood [went] to school with us; we were in elementary [school]. So, we already had that relationship in a sense, and we started to go [with gangs] to get at our dad. And just to have fun.
Being brought up in the early ‘90s when the gang violence was at a high level, your heart just turns calloused, especially in my neighborhood. We went through a period of several years (1989-1992) when we were being shot at, killed, and a lot of people were dying. In one year, I lost 17 of my friends—one of them being one of my best friends, who died in the car I was driving. So all of that turns your heart into this ugly ball of nastiness. To make a long story short, if people want to hear my four-part testimony, they can go to YouTube.
I went to Calvary Chapel Chino Valley just to shut somebody out of my life, because I really thought he was trying to pick up on my [future] wife, my girlfriend back then. So, the deal was made: If I go to church with him this one day, he would leave us alone. I went with him and little did I realize that day [that] Pastor David Rosales [would] teach on the crucifixion of Christ. I remember sitting there thinking and asking God, Lord, I know You’re there. But I was honest with Him. I was 19 years old, and I told Him, I want to party, I want to drink, I still want to get high, and I still want to gangbang. Something about the gang, it was like a family to me. But I told God, If You can change my heart, I will serve You. And you know something, He did. I walked forward at the altar call, and Pastor Rosales said after the sinner’s prayer, “Welcome to the family of God.” I remember looking at him and [feeling] this burden just lifting.
There’s more to my testimony. If you hear it, you will know what I’m talking about, but [that burden] was lifted from that point on. My life has not been perfect, I hope people don’t think that. I had my ups and downs, and God has put me through situations to break me, to drain me of who I was. But throughout the years, the Lord just kept on with me. One of the Scriptures that I held onto a lot was Romans 5:20b, where it says, Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.
And I remember thinking, I will never out-sin the grace of God; it is the goodness of God that leads to repentance. So, throughout the years, God just did this transforming work in my life. One of the things that I share with the church, and even on Facebook posts, is [that] the key to Christianity is falling in love with Jesus—it’s that simple. If you fall in love with Jesus, you’ll be faithful. Another thing that I tell people is, when you were in the world, you were giving your all to the enemy, the devil. How much more [should you give] to the one who gave all, His offering. If I was willing to die for the gang, why am I not willing to die for Jesus? And then the Lord put in my heart, Well, it’s biblical, right? If any man decides to follow Me, if [he has] decided to pick up his cross, which was an instrument of death, [he must] die to [himself] and follow Me. So, I said, “OK, good. I got a Scripture to back it up, Let’s do it.” I think sometimes we complicate our walks with God, because there’s still too much of us when it has to be all about Jesus.
Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share?
Remain faithful. One of my favorite preachers, Adrian Rogers, went home to be with the Lord a few years ago. He said one thing that I love to repeat: “Don’t shut up, don’t back up, until you’re taken up.” In other words, give it all. And I’ll tell you this, with everything that is going on around us, don’t fall victim to the enemy’s lies. You have the Word of God, you have His truth, so let your stance be guided by His Word—it’s a lamp unto our feet. The Bible says that the moment you take your eyes off of God, you’re going to find yourself doing things, saying things, thinking things that are not right, and it’s going to lead you to a path of destruction.
The Bible says, There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12). What I’m saying to Christians is, be careful what you’re listening to, who you’re listening to. With everything that’s going on, you’ve got social media, this news network and [that] network telling you different things. We can easily get off wondering, What do I do? or get persuaded by one side. We know how the media works—it plays with your emotions, so we need to really be in prayer. We need to really be hearing the Spirit speak to us, direct us, and guide us, so that we can be wise. And what we take in is going to affect how we respond.
So, I would tell people, keep your eyes on God. He’s coming back. This should excite Christians as we see things unfolding right before our eyes. I would [also] say, “Go all out, just like Stephen.” I have a message that I shared a few years ago called “Going Out in a Blaze of Glory”; it’s crazy because Stephen did just that. God was glorified. He went out praying for the people that were stoning him. That’s the ultimate goal, to die for the Lord—what an honor. From me to you: Be faithful to the very end. Go out in the blaze of His glory, because what a beautiful day it’s going to be when He is standing right in front of you and He looks you dead in the eyes and says, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”
All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version.
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