Rehab effort advancesPastor seeks more housing, financial backing

Victory Life Church’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation program made progress in 2018, but its leaders are trying to expand and do more.
Church member Manuel Ramirez donated two mobile homes that were installed on 29th Street for the occupancy of house parents Danny and Esperanza Zapata and the 15 men who stayed for various periods during the year and four women who went to the co-ed Joshua 1:2 Fellowship in San Angelo.
The Rev. Albert Flores, pastor of the 325 N. County Road West Church, has been developing the program since 1989 and is encouraged by the Zapatas’ transfer from San Angelo and the mobile homes’ addition.
But he said a van and more living space and financial support are needed. “We allow God, through the Holy Spirit, to bring these men in,” said the Rev. Flores, whose church averages 40-50 worshippers at 10 a.m. Sundays.
“We plant the seed so if they do go back to the street or jail or prison, they’ll remember. The church has its own bills and we barely meet expenses, but these are valuable people and there is hope for them. We trust in God that he will provide for them.”
Excluding sex offenders and people on psychiatric medications, residents are accepted for a 30-day trial period and then for stays of three to six months. They get free food and clothing and are not allowed to work. Of course, drugs and alcohol are prohibited.
The program’s three residents sat in on a mid-December discussion with Flores and the Zapatas, saying they were enjoying Biblical teachings in three daily classes and twice-weekly church visits for classes with Flores or the Rev. Cecil Franco.
“It will work if you allow it to work,” one of them said.
The Rev. Danny Zapata said the men arise at 6:30 a.m. for instructions in theological and moral principles. “I think it’s going great,” he said.
“We have ups and downs, but it’s moving along. The most we’ve had here is six and the least is one. We teach that they have to answer not so much to man but to God and that the only way we can do anything in life is through Jesus Christ.
“The devil is cunning and is always trying to mess people up. Fighting the devil is not a joke. It’s real. We stay with them 24-7, trying to instill a moral lifestyle.”
Zapata said one of the residents had been living on the street for a long time and came to the church in a disheveled state with long hair and a beard. “We see all types, ex-gang members just out of prison and addicts coming off drugs,” he said.
“Some have anger issues and authority problems. Some of the homeless just stay for a night or two. They eat and sleep and take off. Their livers start itching and they want another beer. Esperanza and I will not leave. We’re going to stay here and do the work.”
The Rev. Esperanza Zapata said most residents are sincerely trying to improve. “We believe they can change if given the opportunity and that they can become men of honor,” she said.