Friday, November 22, 2019

Servant Spotlight: Angel Jimenez

Guest Blog: Robert Newman

Angel, Robert and Terry
Some people have, at least, a little warning that they are going to be dealing with a special needs child, but Terry Jimenez had no warning at all.

Terry's first learned something was wrong when Angel went to daycare, he started biting and hitting other children. Angel was referred to Any Baby Can and was diagnosed as having had oxygen deprivation at birth, due a breech delivery.

As Angel was growing up, he had no access to school playgrounds and played in the classroom. He was not allowed to play with children his own age at school since he acted like a much younger child but was too big to play with the younger students. No one would play with him at the public park.

Terry believes Angel would have benefited from an inclusive playground. He is apprehensive around regular playground equipment − if it doesn't have pictures showing what it is used for, he doesn't know what to do. He doesn't like it if it goes too fast or too high.

Today, Angel is 32 years old and developmentally disabled. He cannot read, write, or understand money. He attends the ARC of San Antonio on Saturdays, learning to tell time and count money. Terry reinforces that training at home.

Angel is called a VIP at the ARC because he is so helpful. He helps push people in wheelchairs, helps with Meals on Wheels, and volunteers at the dog pound. Angel likes to be on the go and enjoys interacting with his peers but is still shy when interacting with strangers.

Angel looks forward to coming to worship at Baptist Temple each week. He feels love and acceptance. He especially enjoys working with the children during VBS. The recent gift of a hat from Immanuel Motorcycle Ministry President Armando Acosta is a reminder that he is an important part of the Baptist Temple family. 

Armando (L) gives Angel an Immanuel Motorcycle Ministry hat,

Friday, November 15, 2019


Guest Blog: Diana Aranda-Curtis

I was born in 1958 with Cerebral Palsy, due to a complication during birth. My first memory of learning that I was disabled came to me during a doctor visit at the age of seven. My life changed. The doctor told my mother about a school for children with disabilities. They decided that it would be better for me.

I had just started 2nd grade at the same school my siblings were attending. We all walked to school together but now I was being sent to a different school. A school bus would pick me up and bring me home each day. I would no longer be able to be with my siblings.

I didn’t want to go to a different school. I protested when the bus came to pick me up. It was a struggle to get me on but soon I was on this school bus filled with children with many different disabilities. I saw children in wheelchairs, children with crutches and walkers, and children who needed to wear braces to walk. I examined myself and wondered why I was at this school. I didn’t use a wheelchair. I didn’t need a walker, crutches nor leg braces.

My life was now very different and I had to adjust. I grew up not being around my brothers and sisters. They all shared or knew the same principals, staff, teachers, and friends. I had a life of loneliness. Even though I went home each evening, I was going home to a family who didn’t know anything about me. They didn’t know my principal, my teachers, or any of my friends.

The school I went to was for children 1st through 12th grade, located in the Southeast side of San Antonio, and had students from all over San Antonio. Most of those in my grade, and there were not many, lived in the Northside or Westside. I lived on the Eastside. I couldn’t go to a friend’s house after school or during the summer. My siblings were able to visit their friends but I felt left out.

It wasn’t until I was in the 10th grade that many students were being streamlined to regular schools. Some were able to make it and some did not. I was one of the students who could not make it at a regular school. I had no idea what to expect at a regular school. I didn’t know anyone there. I felt insecure and afraid of this change.

The school became an elementary school and still uses the mascot that we voted on but there is not anything left of the school that I attended. There are no school reunions; many of my friends died at an early age due to their disability. I was left to find a way to live in a world that I never got to know.

I have struggled since graduating and I still struggle today. Bringing those with disabilities to be a part of this world is very important. It teaches everyone that we are all different; but that we all matter.
Diana Aranda-Curtis became a wife and mother, raising four children and has eight grandchildren. She is a compassionate person who serves at Baptist Temple in many ways but particularly through the Highland Park CAN thrift store and food pantry.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Servant Spotlight: Tracy Zayasbazan

Guest blog: Melissa Baxter

Shortly after graduating high school, Tracy Zayasbazan went to see a recruiter with her friend who wanted to join the Navy but it was Tracy, instead of her friend, who enlisted. Her dad was a Navy man but, before that day, she hadn't really considered it.

Her walk with Jesus was tough. She hadn't found a place for Christian fellowship and discipleship between boot camp, school and her first duty station. God carried her and protected her through her time in the service.

Tracy's time in the service prepared her for life, giving her structure and a mission. She was stationed in Florida, Mississippi, Bermuda and, prior to her discharge, the Great Lakes Naval Hospital; near her home town.

She married Jorge and served a church where she connected with other believers and really begin to learn what it is to be a true follower of Jesus. Tracy, a cancer survivor, said, “God has always been my rock especially when my health was compromised or our finances weren't aligned to what He would want them to be. My times of trials have drawn me so much closer to my savior and have allowed me to mature and completely depend on Him and live in a way that glorifies Him.”

There is a strong military tradition in Tracy's family. Her father is a retired naval officer, her brother a Colonel in the Marine Corps and her son serves in the Army Reserve. Her sister, too, is a veteran, serving a tour with the Air Force. She had to lean heavily on her faith when her husband, Jorge, was called to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom; leaving her a solo parent for over a year.

She continues to serve today as a pastor's wife and at the American GI Forum National Veterans Outreach, where she helps find housing for homeless veterans.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Reaching counter-culture youth

Basilio Carrillo, a Westside San Antonio native, experienced a life changing moment at 15 when he saw the British punk rock band, The Clash on MTV. He identified with their anti-fashion and angry counter-culture message. He quickly became immersed in the underground punk rock world of clubs, booze and drugs. He started playing drums with punk rock bands and soon found himself the front man for the “The Deceased;” writing songs and singing lead.

At 29, his girlfriends mother convinced him to take his kids to to church. He chose a particular church because he knew the youth minister, who was cool. He showed up on a Sunday morning looking like the lead singer of a punk rock band: blue hair, piercings, tattoos, leather jacket and biker boots.

He did not receive a warm welcome. In fact, during the greeting time, two men reached across him to shake hands. No one shook his hand.

Yet, as worship began, Basilio felt the Holy Spirit come over him like a wave. He felt convicted by the sins of his past and, broken, he began to weep. On his knees he sought God's forgiveness.

It was a while before he returned to church but he'd heard about a church called Rise Above Ministries led by Skip Brooks, who also had a punk rock past. Skip wanted to reach kids in the punk rocker, heavy metal and other counter-culture worlds; showing that people who look like them can follow Jesus. Basilio felt right at home and, in 2005, became associate pastor.

The church dissolved in 2013 and Skip moved to Tennessee. Rise Above rose again when Skip returned in 2017 and asked Basilio to work alongside him. Basilio took over as pastor following Skip's recent death from cancer. He has the same desire to reach young people who reject and are rejected by the mainstream.

Rise Above Ministries meets in the Baptist Temple Campus Chapel Sundays at 3 PM. They are the sixth church meeting on a campus that is also shared by two schools and several service organizations.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Motorcycle Ride to benefit an inclusive playground on San Antonio's Southside

This Saturday, November 9 at 9 AM, motorcyclists will gather at Baptist Temple Church, 901 E Drexel St., for a ride to benefit Southeast San Antonio's first inclusive playground. They playground will allow children with disabilities to play with their friends of typical abilities. Children need free play to build their physical, mental and social skills. Also, this type of playground breaks down the barriers that lead to loneliness for disabled children and lack of understanding for others.

Riders will meet for breakfast at 8 AM for the 9 AM start and will return at noon for lunch where they will be welcomed by friends from the disabled community.

Inclusive playground website and video