On Wings Like Águilas
Just about everything in Las Vegas is fast moving, from the flashing lights at gambling joints to temperatures in the desert sun. The Vegas valley has been one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the U.S. for decades, jumping from under 1.4 million people at the turn of the century to more than 2.2 million today. Vegas also is home to one of the fastest-growing Hispanic churches in the West: Águilas Centro Familiar Christiano (Eagles Christian Family Fellowship).
The church is nestled in a residential area 20 minutes northeast of the strip of hotels and casinos. On any Sunday, the campus swells to about 3,500 adults and close to 1,200 children at three services. Guillermo Jimenez has been senior pastor since 2004. He came to the city in the late 1990s to visit a friend then planting a church.
“On my first visit, when I saw the lights, I just started crying with compassion for the city,” Jimenez recalls. Within months he left Los Angeles to help minister in Las Vegas and a year after that he married Dinora. They served together in youth ministry until the senior pastor position opened.
As Águilas Centro Familiar Christiano grew, the church had to relocate three times, miles apart because of the lack of affordable locations. Subsequently, adherents today come from all around the region. Jimenez attributes much of the increase to small group ministry. The church has 350 casas de paz or houses of peace across the Vegas valley, each meeting weekly and led by a lay leader.
“In our church we are all disciples of someone,” Jimenez says. “That’s how we keep accountable to one another.” Each small group leader has been mentored and discipled by an elder, who is accountable to a pastor.
While Jimenez believes great teamwork is an element in the church’s growth, he believes the supernatural power of God is the overriding factor. He cites the church acquiring its land as miraculous. Águilas Centro Familiar Christiano was halfway through financing the purchase of a plot from a private seller and had raised $50,000 for the next installment.
Then Jimenez says he heard the Lord leading him to give the money away. An orphanage in Honduras needed the exact amount for construction.
In a test of faith, Jimenez says Águilas Centro Familiar Christiano obediently agreed to donate the funds to the orphanage, with no idea how to come up with money for the church property payment.
Dinora urged Guillermo to wait a few days before contacting the seller to allow the church’s intercession team to pray. The church has an active intercessory ministry that includes more than 300 people in prayer around the clock every day.
Jimenez met with the seller and explained everything. The seller forgave, not $50,000, but $1,050,000. He waived the entire remainder of the purchase price, and the church gained title to the land.
The church is part of the AG’s Southern Pacific District. Superintendent Sergio Navarrete has known Jimenez for 16 years, when Jimenez worked as an assistant pastor.
“Right away I could tell Pastor Jimenez was on fire for Jesus,” Navarrete says. “When installed as the senior pastor he started believing God for great things. He's not a pastor that is satisfied with maintaining status quo. He always looks for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and trusts God for new ways of winning souls for Jesus and extending God's kingdom in new places.”
The Eagles has been gifted 40 acres outside Las Vegas and the church plans to build a retreat center.