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The U.S. Government Stole My Water and Flooded My Church. Then They Denied Me Damages

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By Victor Fuentes , Pastor of Ministerio Roca Solida in Nevada

On a dark night in 1991, I jumped into the ocean off the coast of Cuba and swam nine miles to Guantanamo Bay to ask for political asylum. I had no future in Cuba. My mother had multiple sclerosis, and I hoped that if I became an American, I could bring her here and get her better treatment.

The U.S. government sent me to Las Vegas, where they sent many Cubans trying to get a start. I worked as a dishwasher in a casino, and met the woman who became my wife.

I had hoped to earn enough to bring my mother to America, but I soon realized I could not. Others in my situation turned to selling drugs. I didn’t want to get in trouble, but I wanted to save my mother, so I sold drugs too. Soon I was arrested.

I went to prison, where I found redemption. I found the Lord. When I was released, I went to the church a fellow prisoner had told me about. I worked with the youth, with gang members, so they wouldn’t make my same mistakes. Because of my experience in prison, they listened to me.

Eventually, I was ordained. In 2004, my family moved to Parumph, a town outside of Las Vegas, where we began a Bible study. We wanted to offer something to help young people who are addicted in our community. We didn’t have money; we went by faith. My wife and I work for the glory of God. I am retired from the labor union, and my wife is retired from the casino, so that’s how we get by.

One day we saw a camp for sale in the Ash Meadow Wildlife Reserve and decided to go see it. The owner wanted a price we couldn’t afford. That’s when one of our parishioners who we didn’t know had money stepped forward. She bought the site and gave it to the church.

That’s how Patch of Heaven came to be. Our people worked hard to build it up. Churches from all around started holding retreats here. They would baptize people in our pond, just as we did.

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Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.


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