Sleeping on a mattress on the floor hoping the cockroaches wouldn’t climb in bed with her — that’s what Karina Bazaldua remembers about the summer before sixth grade. The apartment Karina shared with her parents in 1996 after emigrating from Mexico City to Arlington, Texas, wasn’t much, but thanks to Mission Arlington, a mission of First Baptist Arlington, they had food, beds, dishes, clothing and other items to set up a home in a new country.
The impact the ministry had on her family would forever stay in Karina’s heart, laying the early groundwork for ministry with her husband Victor at the Faith Center of Houston’s First.
“Our family was starting from scratch when we came to the United States,” recalls Karina. “Food, clothes, couches, plates — just about everything we needed — Mission Arlington provided.” The situation many Houstonians find themselves in is not so very different from that of Karina’s family. The support they received early on supplemented her father’s manufacturing job, which eventually helped Karina to attend college.
Karina met Victor while studying Engineering at UT-Arlington. She went on to obtain her Master’s degree in Engineering at Texas A&M. Karina received a job offer in Houston in 2009, and soon the newly-engaged couple began seeking out a “relevant” church home. They joined Houston’s First, were married in 2010, and quickly became Missions Coordinators for their Life Bible Study. Each month, class members ministered to families at Oak Forest Apartments, where the Faith Center sponsors a Saturday Kids’ Club, offers homework help to resident children on the weekdays and holds small group Bible study on Thursday nights.
Within a year, the couple was handpicked by Faith Center Director Scotty Sanders to be site leaders at the Faith Center for Houston 1:8, a yearly, home-based mission trip to our city sponsored by Houston’s First. “I have a note stuck on my computer that says ‘Be prepared, pure, productive,’” said Scotty. “It pretty much sums up Victor and Karina. They did an amazing job at the Faith Center. They know how to trust God, delegate and trust the volunteers, and be leaders.”
Victor and Karina served in the food pantry and clothes closet, the backbone of service at the Faith Center, which feeds and clothes more than 400 families every month. The couple has also been involved in teaching various classes offered at the Faith Center, including ESL classes, a computer ministry and counseling center.
The Faith Center is one of the largest ministry sites of Houston 1:8. Volunteers — or missionaries — from Houston’s First are sent to various ministry locations throughout Houston during the first full week of July. At the Faith Center, between 200-250 volunteers from the church serve food, teach Vacation Bible School, youth programs, men’s classes, women’s classes, a Spanish Bible study and more throughout the weeklong ministry event.
Both Karina and Victor have seen the Lord work in lives through neighborhood missions. As children, they were both recipients of God’s provision through the generosity of everyday people. The Bazalduas have pledged their lives to giving back. “We have a big heart for the Faith Center, for donating materially and giving of our time,” said Karina. “We come from communities like this. We are those kids."
Throughout the year, volunteers serve at the Faith Center in a variety of ways. Visit the Faith Center page to see how you can give life away by supporting this vital ministry of Houston's First, or contact Claudia Reyes at Claudia.Reyes@HoustonsFirst.org or 713.554.8816.