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Seriously Bivocational

Despite working long hours in their successful secular careers, friends team up to lead California church plant.

Hector M. Saucedo works 60 hours a week in the food industry. As a sales representative for conglomerate Sysco Foods, the world's largest broadline food distributor, Saucedo peddles produce, seafood, beef, and other products. Daily he meets with chefs, makes sales calls, and does consulting.

Yet Saucedo also is an Assemblies of God pastor at Fullerton Journey Church in California. His food industry job is demanding, but flexible. Saucedo has a lot of “windshield time” driving around congested Los Angeles and Orange County between appointments. While driving, he often is on the phone checking on congregants. Saucedo relishes his busy bivocational life.

“My jobs are not divided into secular and sacred,” says Saucedo, 45. “I can be a pastor in ministry and missional in the workplace as well.”

Saucedo says juggling two careers also helps him appreciate those who are working hard to make a living.

“No matter how good a sermon I preach on Sunday, on Monday I’m reminded real quick there is a mission field,” Saucedo says. “My food customers don’t care what I do on Sunday.”

Saucedo and his longtime friend Enoc Villarreal, who also is bivocational, started Journey Church in 2019 with help from the AG’s Church Multiplication Network (CMN). Villarreal, 40, serves as worship leader, a role he has filled since the pair attended Latin America Bible Institute (LABI) in La Puente together two decades ago. The pals both went to Living Faith, an AG church in La Mirada, for years. At a retirement gala for Living Faith pastor Jack Miranda, Villarreal suggested to Saucedo that they team up and start a church in downtown Fullerton, a growing Orange County city of 143,617 just north of Anaheim. Mentor Miranda encouraged them to think outside the box and embrace a call to bivocational ministry.

Villarreal, who grew up in a migrant farm family, is the ninth of 10 children. He is founder and chief executive officer of All Access Doors. He works an average of 40 hours a week handling sales, repairs, and installation of commercial and retail overhead door products. Villarreal’s father-in-law, Fermin Calvillo, mentored him in the business and encouraged him to be self-employed.

Saucedo has been in the restaurant business since his teenage years, working first at a Jack in the Box fast-food eatery, then as a busboy, followed by waiting tables. While attending LABI, he worked at a restaurant his father owned. Wife Jacklyn these days operates an at-home high-end business called 3 Nails Studio, which affords her multiple evangelistic opportunities to women getting manicures.

Villarreal and Saucedo earlier ministered together through music. With Villarreal playing guitar, Saucedo had shared the gospel through hip hop at such venues as prisons, Native American reservations, and with the homeless.

After guidance from AG SoCal Network Superintendent Rich Guerra and church planting director Frank W. Wooden, Saucedo and Villarreal attended the annual CMN conference as well a CMN intensive Launch Training.

Journey Church, which numbers around 175, meets Sunday afternoons in a United Methodist basement. The ministers’ wives, Jaclyn Saucedo and Myrna Villarreal, help them with pastoral care duties, add balance to the decision-making process, and lead women’s ministry together.

Roughly 80% of adherents are Hispanic, many of them married couples in their 30s and 40s with growing families. Children’s ministry is emphasized at Journey Church. The Saucedos have three daughters while the Villarreals have three sons and a daughter.

Some of the attendees have been through a lot, but have found freedom in Christ.

“There are men leading in the church who two years ago were in rehab centers,” Saucedo says.

The men’s ministry at the church is called the Barbarian Circle, designed to build Kingdom-minded men, “where faith and raw masculinity intersect.”

A key outreach ministry of the church is a twice-weekly program called Anvil Jiu-Jitsu. An average of 15 men, most of them not Christian, attend the sparring gatherings, led by black belt and brown belt coaches. Saucedo views the coaches as blacksmiths, the mat as the anvil, and the team participants as the metal and/or the hammer.

“On the mat, all men are forged,” Saucedo says. “It’s a combat sport. You either win or you learn.” Both Saucedo and Villarreal are students at Anvil Jiu-Jitsu.

In addition to physical lessons, Anvil Jiu-Jitsu imparts values about commitment, camaraderie, and character. The final 10 minutes of the session, Saucedo shares words of affirmation and encouragement, relating life to jiu-jitsu.

“The purpose is to build relationships,” Saucedo says. “After class we start to have deeper conversations. Most men are looking for a connection where they can be understood and valued.”

Lead Photo: Left, Jaclyn and Hector Saucedo. Right, Enoc and Myrna Villarreal.

John W. Kennedy

John W. Kennedy served as news editor of AG News from its inception in 2014 until retiring in 2023. He previously spent 15 years as news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and seven years as news editor at Christianity Today.