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Raised Catholic and having attended an Assembly of God church, Claudia Rodriguez remembers that it was at age twelve that she had her first encounters with Jesus. She acknowledged that He was real and present, but for many years following, she lived a life void of interacting with Him.
“I came to a crisis in my life… I was facing a gut-wrenching divorce and it sent me running into my Heavenly Father’s arms…”
Claudia devoted many years to her schooling, worked at Nordstrom in distribution for some seventeen years and was married for ten. Her and her husband had even started a concrete company together where they were contracted out to do various large-scale jobs.
“My divorce was excruciatingly painful… I remember I lost twenty-seven pounds in two weeks… but God was so gracious towards me… He had prepared me for what was coming. I actually heard His voice audibly for the first time in my life at a moment when I needed Him the most.”
Immediately following that audible experience with God, she came home to her husband telling her he was done and leaving her. In the midst of tremendous heartbreak, God’s faithfulness was a comfort to her.
“I immediately returned to church and grew tremendously at that time.” Just four months later, Claudia was hosting a bible study with a Mormon lady, a Catholic lady, an Agnostic lady and Christian lady all seeking Christ. Four months after that, Claudia’s house caught on fire.
“I remember standing outside my house, doing my best to hose down what I could and I just started laughing… In that moment I had resolved, that even if God let my house burn down and whatever trials may come, I was going to stay close to Jesus and serve Him with the rest of my life. I realized how frail and fragile my earthly possessions really were in comparison to the riches of Christ… it was a huge reality check for me and another turning point in my walk with Jesus…”
God led Claudia to Golden Springs Church with Pastor Raul Ries. She grew in her love for sharing the Gospel with others. Many nights she would join the outreach team and visit parts of downtown Pomona to share His love. Her first mission trip was to Bogota, Columbia.
“I remember I was given the opportunity to share the Gospel in this giant plaza. There were two young prostitutes there… this older man was trying to solicit them… the man ended up giving his life to the Lord that night and he walked away from these young girls… I also got to share God’s heart with these young prostitutes even in the midst of their pimp getting pretty upset…”
In 2008, Claudia found herself in Israel. It was on that trip that the Bible came to life and her intimacy with Jesus grew immensely. She had a friend by the name of Christina who shared with her of an opportunity to go to a yearlong discipleship school in San Diego.
Claudia drove to San Diego for an open house week the school was hosting. Through a guest speaker and some new friends, God spoke. “I remember after worship, I told the Lord, ‘I want to do something radical for you…’ and then the next speaker got up on stage and said ‘Why not do something radical for the Lord?!’ Then at lunchtime, someone asked me ‘what is stopping you from attending this program?’...I thought to myself… nothing is stopping me from attending this program…”
In one last fleece Claudia threw up to the Lord, she prayed “Lord, bring another person to me to talk to me about this.” Up walked the guest speaker that God had already used to touch her heart. “I was sitting on the curb, knees shaking and Craig stopped... he did a 360, looked straight at me, then came and sat down.”
It was the last straw and Claudia decided to go for it and move to San Diego. But first, she had to quit her job of seventeen years.
“God was totally helping me move forward in faith… I had a dream that night that I lived by the ocean. Then when I walked into work to talk to my boss about my decision; she told me that she was helping her friends move to San Diego that weekend… I then let her know that I too will be moving to San Diego… I was going to start school that same Monday… she graciously responded not only in a willingness to help me move, but with an offer to transfer my job to a Nordstrom in San Diego!”
Upon completing the discipleship school, God eventually led her to live out what she was learning in the context of being a ministry leader at Impact195. “I served on the counseling team, the outreach team, the attendance team… I was a mentor. I was there for both day and night programs. I just couldn’t get enough! And I was living in a housing situation where I was rent free, so I was freed up to serve...”
In December 2010, Claudia helped lead Impact195 students on a short-term trip to the Philippines. While out there, one of the students was talking about returning back to PI for the long term. God had been speaking to Claudia in many ways.
“He asked me to let go of whatever I was holding on to on that trip… my heart was like Mary’s and I said ‘so be it!’”
Upon Claudia’s return, her sister called her. God had been stirring her heart to contribute towards Claudia’s ministry, but she had no idea that God would be sending Claudia to the Philippines. “My sister Sylvia called and said she was sending a check… I was grateful, but had no idea how generous her amount was going to be… the check was close to $7,000…In that instant I knew that I was going to the Philippines. Three months later I was on my way!”
Ministering in the Philippines was a total life change for Claudia.
“I got to live in a bamboo cottage… half of it was cement, half of it was latticed wood… I had a very small bedroom, open-air kitchen and no running water which meant cold bucket showers. We ate lots of vegetables, lots of rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner… we would enjoy fine meals of chopsuey, pancit, fish and eggplants….
A year later I moved across the way into a new cottage, where the ocean became my backyard! Our restrooms could only be accessed by leaving the cottage. There was no running water… I had to prepare my bucket showers by pumping water... on occasion I would heat the water in advance… I had to remember to check for geckos… they were everywhere… it was not abnormal to have weekly run ins with the one to two inch roaches there too… they had wings…”
The average temperature was high! “Often we would just sit there and sweat…”
Claudia also learned the difference between what the locals would call a storm or typhoon.
“They told me if the trees are going in every direction… that’s clearly a typhoon… anything else was simply a storm…”
There were instances where families had to be evacuated on her island. “I remember the streets turned into rivers… several people came to our home very afraid… they thought a tsunami was coming… I remember we prayed for them and explained to them the peace of Jesus… then we went to the store and bought them canned food, just in case…”
Claudia also learned how to harvest corn and rice with the locals and how to ride a motorcycle. “If we got a flat tire… what would normally take fifteen minutes to get to would end up being an hour’s journey… the terrain made it seemed like a motocross track…”
Ministry days for Claudia were full! “We’d spend our time visiting and encouraging a myriad of churches… Baptists, Methodists, you name it…”
A second Impact International team came to the island and helped build a local library. “That was such a powerful & fruitful time in the ministry. What we had sowed… they got to help reap… Trevor Davis joined that team and led a multitude in worship. 1400 people gave their lives to the Lord during our outreaches there…”
Claudia also hosted women’s bible studies once a week and then the police department made a request. “We were asked by local authorities to lead a bible study for them once a week too… these were tough men in uniform… some of them were corrupt… there was a need and opportunity, so we stepped up and took it…”
In their newly built library, Claudia helped to host computer classes, English classes, youth bible studies & helped to host sports and family nights with the use of the adjacent basketball court.
The mayor of their town invited Claudia and other Rock Ambassadors serving in PI to join the chaplaincy. “Their town had just started a type of welfare system and they wanted to make programs provided through the chaplaincy mandatory for people signing up for welfare… classes were taught on finances, marriage and family and more, all based on the bible. I got to share God’s love with 200-400 people on a monthly basis through teaching in that program…”
God let Claudia see some of the fruit of her labors too. “I remember there was a group of younger individuals looked upon by the community as the black sheep so to speak… they struggled with drunkenness, gambling, violence… they were basically condemned publically… it was ugly… our team there started pouring into them, loving on them and God used it to change them. They came to a genuine faith in Christ, they started coming to church and even went to Christian conferences… they completely turned their lives around and even quit smoking! It was a miracle and the whole town saw it…”
In another instance, Claudia’s faithfulness in loving an elderly woman named Lola Lemi became a huge blessing to another elderly lady preparing to die. “I would go to visit Lola Lemi once a week and help her memorize scripture… earlier in the year she had given her life to the Lord. One day I took her with me to meet another elderly lady on her deathbed… Lola Lemi shared Christ with the woman who was dying and led her to the Lord right before she passed away… they asked me to do her funeral service… it was such an honor…”
After two plus years in PI, God called Claudia back home to the states. “Though it was a difficult decision, I came home to my family at Impact195 and jumped into serving in the missions department… I got to love on the incoming students and share with them all I had learned…”
Claudia sensed that her time in the states was temporary though. When the needs became known with the Rock Orphanage in Haiti, she felt a huge tug in her heart. “Our missions director was sharing about the super food kitchen they were starting there that was going to feed over a thousand kids a day… then he shared about the twenty-two children that could be heading to the orphanage we were starting and I knew God was asking me to step out in faith again.”
Claudia has just $4,000 more to raise. Once the funds are in, she plans to move down to Haiti immediately to help with the work there. “My role would be to help establish the orphanage and be God’s hand and feet to the children…God is just giving me this huge heart to cloth and feed and nurture these sweet children who have never had an opportunity to bond with a mom or a dad… ”
Claudia recognizes the need for a covering of prayer too as she prepares to go. “There is a very real spiritual battle that goes on in Haiti… there is a lot of oppression and darkness… there is a saying that 50% of the country is Christian, 50% is catholic and 100% of it is voodoo…”
Claudia asked that people would specifically pray that she would be strengthened in her inner man, rooted and established in love. “I have been studying God’s characteristics and attributes and I am in the process of writing 1000 of them down so I can remember who the Lord is when it gets hard…”
Claudia also asked for prayers for the little ones that will entrust to her care. “Each one of them will be different and will receive love in different ways… I want to be sensitive to that and I will need wisdom on how to love each one… I want to be creative and have a ton of fun with them…”
To read more about and support Claudia Rodriguez and her assignments abroad log on into: https://www.mogiv.com/rockmissions/claudiarodriguez/