Evangel Profile

Alumni Voices: John Alarid

April 25, 2016

I graduated from CBC in May of 2013 with a BA in Church Leadership and Bible. I came to CBC in 2011 after finishing up parole in New Mexico. At CBC I met my wife, Hannah, who graduated from the Long Island Teen Challenge.

The turning points

After years of crack cocaine & heroin addiction I walked into a Victory Outreach men’s home in Phoenix, AZ in 1998. At the time I was on the run for a stabbing in New Mexico, and was headed to live in Mexico to beat the charges. I am half Hispanic and speak fluent Spanish. My intention was to get off heroin. However, the Lord met me in that Christian men’s home. I was called to ministry and filled with the Spirit a few months later at a rehab conference. Upon graduation, I served as director of the men’s home and later went to the Urban Training Center (School of Ministry for Victory Outreach) in downtown Los Angeles.

When I finished the school of ministry, I was asked to go to Manila as a missionary to plant churches, start a training center, and open recovery homes. Upon my return to Los Angeles, I was arrested at the airport for the old charges. I was extradited to Albuquerque and later released to fight the charges. During this time I became discouraged and went back to my old life.

A year and a half later, I was picked up and sent to prison for eight years – but I served less than half that. During my first year in prison I was sent to solitary confinement for suspicion of brining narcotics into the facility. There in a lonely prison cell on the cement floor in the max prison in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I got down on my knees and cried out to God. I said, “Lord, if you’re still there, would you come back into my life.”

The Lord heard my cry and my dungeon was filled with light. My prison became a palace. For the entire five months I was in solitary confinement, what felt like waves of electric liquid love flowed over me. It was a tangible experience – the presence of the Lord was so real. Looking back this was probably the best time of my life. When I got back to general population, I was voted in as inmate pastor. God moved in a powerful way and many inmates came to Christ.  I have never looked back.

Growing in knowledge

While I was in prison I took Global University undergraduate courses. After prison and while on parole in Santa Fe, I started attending a little AG church called Christian Life Fellowship. At one of the services I was completely healed of Hepatitis C, which I contracted years before from intravenous drug addiction.

I was asked to share that testimony and pray for the sick at a camp meeting. After service a little old preacher came up and said I should go to CBC. The Lord confirmed this in several ways, and in 2011 I came to CBC.

Bringing CityReach to Springfield

Since my arrival in Springfield in 2011, I have been preaching at local prisons and jails. Over 200 prisoners would give their lives to Christ each year in my ministry to the prisons. However, many fell away once they hit the streets. They needed hardcore discipleship and accountability like I had at the men’s home.

My first year at AGTS, I spoke with Dr. Klaus about the possibility of opening a Dream Center in Springfield. Eventually, I felt led to plant a church with a men’s and women’s recovery home based on the Victory Outreach model of urban church planting. I reached out to Steve Pyke and shared my vision. He told me there was a guy in the AG that was using that model. He introduced me to Brian Bolt, the founder of CityReach Network. Pastor Brian had also gone through a Victory Outreach men’s home in southern California and he started CityReach Network and Hope Homes based on that model.

We connected and hit it off. In January of 2015, Brian Bolt came to town and asked us to launch with CityReach. We prayed and knew this was God’s will. We launched our church on March 6, 2016 at AGTS.  We had almost 200 people at the launch and five salvations. To date twenty-six people have surrendered their lives to Christ.

April 1, 2016 we opened the men’s Hope Home. Hope Homes are place of freedom for those struggling with life controlling issues, desperate situations such as addiction, post-incarceration, and homelessness.

Overcoming challenges and growing in ministry

The usual ministry challenges are there with CityReach–fund raising and team building. The biggest challenge for us has been making time to do everything. We launched two ministries within a month, the church and the Hope Home. This is on top of finishing up my master’s degree at AGTS and serving as the Southern Missouri Area Director for Prison Fellowship. My wife is the worship pastor at CityReach and is building the worship team, handling the media component and finishing her music degree at Evangel.

Want to get involved?

CityReach Church exists to reach the ones far from God and together with them become passionate followers of Jesus Christ. We believe that God uses unlikely people in overlooked places to do extraordinary things.

We covet your prayers. Anyone who is looking for a place to serve can contact me at jalarid@cityreachnetwork.org. We have opportunities on the discipleship team, with the youth and with children. We are also looking for students or faculty to teach life skills at the men’s Hope Home. Contact Tom Moon if you would like to serve at the Hope Home- tmoon@cityreachnetwork.org.

Every Saturday we meet at AGTS to pray and then street evangelize the area around EU.

If you would like to help our church plant or Hope Home financially you can give at this link: http://bit.ly/GiveToCityReach (in the memo put “Hope Home” or “church plant”).