Fernando Villicana’s Personal Testimony
My Life BEFORE I met Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior:
I remember as a small boy occasionally attending a Catholic church. It was there I became aware that there was a God but never attended regularly or got involved in the goings on of the church. I was never involved in gangs, crime etc. but coming from a broken home found myself an angry young man. I had friends all around me but really didn’t feel as though I fit in anywhere. There was a void in my life and I was aware of it but without any answers or guidance so I continued a life of sin.
Describe the event of how I got saved:
It was in my senior year of high school that a guy who sat next to me in one of my classes showed up with wearing a club jacket and a huge bible in his hands. This bothered me so I asked him to explain himself. He witnessed to me, invited me to church and led me to Jesus Christ. Years later I moved from that church in the San Fernando Valley to Downey where I had three children, joined the Los Angeles City Fire Department, became a competitive bodybuilder and ultimately drifted from God. I did well in the Fire Department and in bodybuilding but the family suffered as I got caught up in the entrapments the sport and lifestyle had to offer. I soon found myself having serious problems in my marriage. In 1984 I was invited to Praise Chapel Maywood where I returned back to God and placed myself under Pastor Mike and Donna Neville’s leadership. I was video taping Pastor Mike Neville preaching at the 1986 Praise Chapel Conference when I was captured by the message and God got a hold of my life once again. This time I responded to the altar knowing that the call to pastor was evident but I still continued competing in bodybuilding. I was constantly being reminded of the words of my pastor: “Fernando, what is God calling you to do.” Shortly after this, I almost lost my life fighting a hotel fire and heard the voice of God tell me that if I didn’t totally surrender my life to Him and answer the call on my life that anything could happen. God gave me another chance and after being treated for burns I returned home, sat at the dinner table with my wife Liz, placed my badge down on the table and told my wife and God: “anything God wants me to give up and do, I’ll do.” I instantly gave up bodybuilding and wholeheartedly pursued the things of God and the vision of Praise Chapel. In 1991 Liz and I were sent out by Pastor Neville to pioneer a new church into the City of Fullerton California.
The Significant things God is doing in my life today:
Since then we have seen the hand of God move mightily in our community and are blessed to become a Fellowship of 7 churches and 1 missionary family to Fiji. We consider ourselves blessed to be a part of a Fellowship who has a heart for the one – in my case, a proud, confused young man who aimlessly got caught up in the things of this world. Now, for us to live for Jesus Christ as a family and to witness first hand the goodness of God on people’s lives is more rewarding than anything else in the world. We thank God for the opportunity to be a small part of his overall plan for humanity and love being able to pastor this wonderful church. We are confident that God will continue to bring success through his word and prosper a church that will outlast me.