Intro To Gimenez
by William Worrell
January 2003 marked the first issue of the magazine The Christian Connection. And with the first issue, the first cover story was that of Pastor John Gimenez—co-founder of the The Rock Church in Virginia. Beach, Virginia. Much as happened between 2003 and now in 2014—Eleven YEARS have elapsed! And it doesn’t “feel” like it—Does it? There are many nodding heads now. And many younger folk saying “What do you MEAN? “ Feb. 14, 2008 marked the passing of Pastor Gimenez—or Bro. John as he was lovingly known by many. Therefore, this article is offered in honor and in memory of Pastor Gimenez. Oh let’s say it! In honor of our departed friend and mentor: BRO. John! We miss you!
Always On The Move
I walked into the lobby, of the administrative offices of Rock Church, and encountered the sight of boxes piled high to the ceiling. It looked like moving day! Then I heard, “Hi Brother Bill! Bishop Gimenez is packing,” said a cherry female voice. Maybe it is moving day, I thought. “I beg your pardon,” I answered. As I navigated my way beyond the zone of boxes, I approached the receptionist desk. We all know people who just naturally suit their job. And Jennifer Vinson is a natural for her post. She can bring peace to practically any situation, and brighten a room with her presence.
“Brother John is packing toys for the kids in Liberia—and Lee’s helping him.” She explains, as she proceeds to page Lee Norrell—Executive Secretary to Bishop John Gimenez. Several minutes later, I was on the elevator headed for the Bishop’s office. Finally, I was ushered into the office. Taking a seat, I prepared myself for a possible wait.
As I began to get my notes ready, I looked around the office that’s graced the presence of some of the more popular personalities of the Body of Christ. When entering Bishop’s office, one of the first things you notice is the big ornate desk. Your eyes are then drawn to the beautiful sculptured eagle—with talons extended. Then, there are the photographs of family, ministry, friends, and the many mementos he’s collected in his travels. The office—like the man—is open and inviting.
Just then, a casually attired John Gimenez strolls into the room. As usual, a smile fills his face and he has a twinkle in his eyes, “Brother Bill! Had some things to do (packing toys—not supervising—but hands on packing himself) and some people to see” ( music director—getting some songs ready for Sunday’s service). John Gimenez is always on the move. Continuing his entrance, he says, “Have a seat!” He motions me to a big plush chair in front of his desk. He doesn’t bother with the desk chair, but heads for the other plush chair beside me. And with a sigh of accomplishment, the Bishop sits down, to get down to business.
After a few minutes of sharing about family and chatting about church matters, we finally get to the matter of the interview. And I pose my first my question to Bishop Gimenez. What’s a word of advise you can share with our readers?
“There’s a word we all need to learn: Release. If you learn to release people, situations, and other matters, you’ll find yourself with more peace, and at the same time you’ll grow up in Christ. It’s when we hold unto things, that gets us in trouble—and we loose our peace—and sometimes our joy.”
That led me to my next question. You’ve been pastor of Rock Church since its founding. And it hasn’t been too long since you stepped down from that post. How does it feel not to be in the pastor’s chair?
Bishop, and Ex-pastor, Gimenez pondered the question for just a few seconds. His eyes lit up, and with a smile he simply said, “Free. I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense. I mean that I’m free to pursue my other calling: to build churches and to go into all the world. I’m free to go and do what God wants me to do. Before, I was tied to the church—I enjoyed it—working with people, preaching, and teaching. But pastoring involves so much more than what people see. Its administration, financial stuff like: budgets, allocations, benefits for church staff, working with the IRS, public relations, television, church guests, and on and on.”
Now mind you that the church does have a wonderful staff that handles a lot of all the above. But as Bishop goes on to say, “…So you have to have your hand in it to have a knowledge of it. Its scriptural: To whom much is given, much is required. So, when I say I’m free. I’m free to pursue the other calling of God: To go out there.” As he points out the window—with a gleam in his eyes…a smile slowly beginning to fill his face. “That’s where its really at—out there! Now, I love the people here—with all my heart—but out there is where I’m called.”
Bishop went on to discuss how some people refer to their flock as My Church. My People. And those very folks haven’t learned the principle of release. Its His church that you’re given the opportunity to lead and care for. “You know its for this reason Sister Anne and I’ve always had an open pulpit policy. We want to hear the cutting edge Word of God. And the Lord has sent some incredible ministry our way—I believe because we’ve released it all to Him.”
John Gimenez has ministered for a little over 30 years. And during this time, he’s been witness to a lot of history at Rock Church and also within the Body of Christ. He’s seen individuals saved, seen them found ministries, and go on to achieve some prominence with in the Body of Christ. Which brought me to my next question. Are there any issues, within the Body of Christ, that concern you?
As he prepared to field the question, his manner changed, too—crisp, confident, and dynamic. “There are two. First, many are slow to grasp the idea that church leadership involves a process of preparation. You have to learn the Body of Christ. Overall, we [the Body of Christ] don’t have proper government in the church. When ministry talk about the 5 fold ministry—apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher—they tend to envision a ministry called to the Body of Christ at large. But you have the five fold in the local assembly too!” Then John leaned forward in his seat, and said very evenly, “The second, I believe would have to be that of disunity of members.” He went on to relate how John 17 is Jesus’ prayer for the church. [See John 17:22 & 23]
“John 17 has been called The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus. Here you find our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane—just before He was taken to Pilate. We find Him praying for “those given to Him”—for His disciples—and for those would follow—you and me. And towards the end of His prayer, Jesus prayed something most significant: “That they may be one.” That speaks of right relationship with one another. And then we find, “…that they may be one so that the world might believe.”
With a look of near pleading in his eyes, Bishop continued with, “If we really understood this, we would love each other—regardless of hurt, wrong,, or denomination—and the world would believe.”
Bishop went on to describe what the world really saw in the church, “Right now, this country is embroiled in a search for a sniper and the consideration of going to war. And at the same time there are pockets, within the Body of Christ, that are waging war against their brethren. This isn’t right. We’re to love—commanded by God—in word and deed. We’re our worse enemy! There are those in ministry who want to rule—not to release their fellowship to God.” He goes on to compare some ministers to his days as a gang member, “Its like we’re protecting our turf. And God’s glory can’t be seen in those situations.”
He goes to state that, the church was birthed through the ultimate act of love: The Death of Jesus—who gladly gave his life so that we might have life. “This is the kind of love the world needs—craves to see! And it can only be seen with a rightly related body of believers. Real life. Real love is the ultimate bait. “
Suddenly, that excitement and the twinkling eyes returned, “That’s the way God works. When we release—we get what we need. We release pride; we get humility. Rebellion is replaced with submission. Deception with truth.” [At this moment, if John Gimenez had a pulpit he would be preaching. Since he wasn’t, he resorted to teaching. This time, he began asking the questions!] “What pulls us together? Crisis! When did the church grow the most—and fastest? During persecution—or crisis. Our Lord never meant for us—the church—to fight a defensive war. He meant for us to take the war to the enemy—not the world—but the real enemy—the accuser of the brethren: satan. We were given a command: Go into all the world with the gospel. All of your world might be your neighbor. And it all begins with our becoming one. Decide. Make the decision that you will walk in love—in word and deed.”
As I listened, there came to mind some of the things that had been done to him. You see, there are some people, even some Christians, who can’t forget that he’s a Puerto Rican from that Bronx, an ex-drug addict with a prison record. Life has kicked this man around quite a bit, before the Lord apprehended him—and delivered him. Now look at him. Bishop of Rock Ministerial Fellowship, Executive Directive of Washington for Jesus Rallies, Founder of Proclaim, and a whole assortment of other endeavors—all for the sole purpose of sharing the Good News of Jesus with as many people as possible. Which brings my last question: What’s the current project for John Gimenez? What’s the large desire of Bishop’s heart?
John Gimenez chuckled openly, “ That’s the easiest question I’ve had to answer today,” he said. “My current project—Our current project is helping the people of Liberia. You saw that mountain of boxes out there didn’t you? Those are toys for the children over there. My desire is to help those children in as many ways as we can—especially in the area of education. This magazine can help too! Some of your readers can sponsor a child’s education!” [See sidebar for Liberia story]
“That’s the large desire of my heart—to give as much as I can to God. And helping the children of Liberia is one way of doing that. Some people ask me why go to Liberia? Simple. The need is the thing. More than that, God said, “Go.” Period. You don’t question the instructions the Lord gives you. When you get your marching orders—you move. So I’m moving!”
Sponsor a child & change a life
As a nation, we have taken so many things for granted: a hot meal, a warm bed, and an education. Let’s admit it folks. As American citizens, the majority of us are pampered. As a citizen, it’s your right to have a free education—no matter your economic condition.
Now, imagine education as a luxury and not an essential. Imagine your right to an education being determined by your parent’s position in society. School in Liberia is not free. One of our essential freedoms, that we take for granted, is a luxury in war-torn Liberia.
Profile In Brief
Liberia was ruled by the descendents of the original freed slaves until 1980, when Samuel Doe came to power in a coup. In 1989, a rival warlord and his rebels tried to overthrow Doe, and civil war between the various factions has continued since that time. The toll of this war, on the people of Liberia, has been devastating. During the 8 years of fighting, it is estimated that more than 150,000 civilians have been killed. The water and food supply is contaminated beyond measure, and as a result, outbreaks of diseases, such as malaria and cholera, are commonplace. Over 1.2 million—nearly half the population—are currently homeless, and it’s estimated that more than 800.000 Liberians are living as refugees in nearby countries—waiting to return to their homes and loved ones.
RMF IN LIBERIA
The role of The Rock Ministerial Family, in helping the people of Liberia, began in January of 1996. Bishop John Gimenez , Pastor of the Rock Church of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and president of the Rock Ministerial Family, sent ministry to Liberia to start a church there. Within a few months, the church grew to more than 250 and established many outreaches to those in need. In April 1996, all foreigners were evacuated out of Liberia as the bloodiest fighting, in several years, broke out in the capitol of Monrovia and throughout the nation. Hundreds of thousands of Liberians fled as well.
A Future Begins Today
Because of the compassionate generosity of organizations, corporations, and individuals, the lives of many people in Liberia have been improved—but we have only scratched the surface. There is still so much we can do to help those whose lives have been ravaged by a terrible civil war. The government of Liberia is getting back on track, and with the international community looking on, free elections were held on July 19, 1997. It is during this time of renewed confidence, in the future of Liberia, that we must redouble our efforts to support the Liberian people.
A great foundation has been laid, and many things accomplished, but the work is unfinished. Will you help us? To be more specific, will you sponsor a child during the coming academic year? Think about it this way: It costs approximately $700.00 a month for a child to attend a private school—in America. You can sponsor a child, in Liberia, for only $200.00—for the year! [Contact Rock Church at 757-495-5200]
Join with us in this sponsorship program and change the life of child. Remember, you change a nation one life at time. Help the children of Liberia.