Getting To Know Your Campus Pastors

12/14/2010 .
Katie Convertino
[[image id=3146 alt="Pastor James Valencia"]]

James Valencia
Saddleback Rancho Capistrano

We couldn’t be more excited about our five new Saddlebacks launching THIS Christmas Eve. As you decide which regional you’ll attend, we wanted to offer you a glimpse into the lives and hearts of our new pastors

Pastor James Valencia is the new pastor at Saddleback Rancho Capistrano. Him and his wife Melanie have been married for six years and reside in Ladera Ranch. When they aren’t doing ministry work, they enjoy spending time at the beach and Disneyland.

1. What were your dreams for the future when you were a teenager?

I wanted to be successful in business like my mom and Uncle Bill.

2. What key moments in your life (both good and bad) shaped what your ministry is today?

My Aunt Evelyn was the one that got me to go back to church after years of not wanting to get involved. In 1995, she asked me to come to Saddleback with her as her Christmas present. Hearing Pastor Rick for the first time changed the way I thought about church. I reconnected with God in a very real way and knew immediately I needed to use my gifts for him. I was so blessed that she was able to see one of her dreams come true when she saw a picture of me getting baptized. She was too ill to be there in person, but seeing my public expression of faith brought her so much joy. She went to be with the Lord soon after.

The other moment was more recent. My mother, who was a strong Christian example and influence, became very sick in January of 2010. She was my biggest cheerleader, encouraging me every step of the way even from her hospital bed. I was blessed that in my last days with her, she got to see the DVD of me getting licensed as a pastor here at Saddleback. She was a fierce evangelist and her number one priority was that people would know the love of Christ. When she passed, I felt stronger about reaching the lost than I’ve ever felt before. Her goal in life was to reach as many for the kingdom as she could. And I’ve now made that my goal – to reach as many for the kingdom before I go home.

3. Who were the people(s) that influenced your ministry the most and why?

My Aunt Evelyn encouraged me to get back into church and was the one that told me I was going to be a pastor one day. I always trusted her because she only wanted what was best for me. I knew she would pray for me daily and loved me very much.

Brian Uyeda (fellow pastor here at Saddleback). I have known Brian for many years, going all the way back to college. He knew my heart, prayed with me, and told me he felt full-time vocational ministry was where I needed to be. I was happy in my job and didn't want to leave but I couldn’t deny God’s call on my life.

My mom Rosina – from an early age, she instilled in me that if you were a believer in Christ, than you need to exemplify him. She said always treat people the way Christ would treat them, welcome everyone with a smile, and don't just tell, but show them. who Christ is. I have never forgotten that and it has shaped who I am in ministry. If people ever wonder why I am the way I am, it's because I grew up with a mom that woke up every day saying "This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad In it!”

4. When did you realize that God was calling you to be a pastor? Was this a calling you accepted willingly? Why or why not?

I had many people encouraging me to follow that path. Great pastors here at Saddleback, fellow co-workers, and friends, but it was my wife Melanie that was my biggest encourager. She would hear me talk at home and see me deal with people when I wasn't at work. She would pray with me and hear my heart and would vocalize what we both knew was going on inside me. Then in 2009, I made the commitment to follow that calling and go to seminary.

5. What has God been teaching you in the last few months since you were asked to be a Saddleback Pastor?

During my licensing ceremony Pastor Tom said that "this licensing is a license to wash feet." From this I learned that in ministry, the higher your responsibility, the more servant-hearted you need to be. I have never forgotten his words and the Holy Spirit has continually pressed that on my heart.

6. What are your dreams for the future both personally and in ministry for the Decade of Destiny?

Well personally, I can't wait to start a family! My wife Melanie and I look to have one or two children within the next few years. We are so excited that we already have names picked out!

As far as ministry, I am excited to see our community transformed by meeting their needs. During the Decade of Destiny, I would like to see thousands of people seeing Christ in a way that makes sense to them, so that they can experience a real relationship with him. By keeping the focus on Jesus and following the vision he has given Pastor Rick, there is no stopping us!

Christmas Eve services at Rancho Capistrano are 1:00, 3:00, 5:00, and 7:00 p.m. To get to know more about Saddleback Rancho Capistrano, go to www.saddleback.com/ranchocapistrano.