Esselstrom August Prayer Letter
Dear Ministry Partners,
What a joy to be able to participate in our most recent Church-Based Seminary graduation at The Urban Ministry Institute of San Diego (TUMISD)! What brings my heart the most joy is not only did we graduate seven formerly incarcerated leaders, but two former lifers, Pastors Danny Gonzales and Martin Dawson, led the graduation ceremony. They are the pastors of Pillar of Fire Church San Diego, which now runs TUMISD including mentoring all the classes and graduations. It was such a blessing to entrust TUMISD leadership to such capable hands earlier this year.
Otis, Patrick, Bashir, Joe Joe, Greg, Jeffrey, and Harry have labored over five years for this day. The original graduation was supposed to be June 2020. COVID-19 took care of that date. It was postponed to February 2021. The pandemic took care of that one too, but there was no stopping our graduation this summer! Two characteristics that define each of these men are determination and perseverance. Nothing seems to deter them from moving forward, not even pandemics and prison bars.
As you can see from their faces, this day was quite the celebration! Upon the conclusion of the ceremony, one of the graduates turned to me with a huge smile and tearful eyes saying, “I’ve never graduated anything in my life!”
These leaders are authors, counselors, and pastors. One has a skating ministry, another is an optician, and still another a stay-at-home dad. They are all trained leaders for our churches and communities. What a privilege for us to minister alongside them!
As you pray for us this month, please pray for:
- Otis, Patrick, Bashir, Joe Joe, Greg, Jeffrey, and Harry as they move forward in their ministries
- Pastors Danny Gonzales and Martin Dawson as they lead boldly
- The strength and reach of Pillar of Fire Church and TUMISD
Rich and Karin Esselstrom