Businessman finds new life in Jesus Christ
By Kathy Heinrichs Wiest
Alex Bazan was a big business man in the small town of La Grulla, Texas. His crew of up to 80 workers was always busy with big construction jobs: churches, hospitals, at one point doing the cement work for three school campuses at once.
Bazanwas a good man, a regular at Catholic mass and active lay worker who even built a parish hall for the local Catholic church. He cared about his workers and took seriously his responsibility for providing income for their families.
But all his personal power and good works couldn’t save his business. Three years ago, just after his 50th birthday, it came tumbling down amid the economic downturn, lawsuits and old tax liabilities. He closed the business and sold everything he could to pay off his obligations.
Desperate for work, Bazan joined his son on a crew building refineries in the Virgin Islands, leaving his wife, Cynthia, at home in La Grulla. The work of sandblasting and painting the refinery pipes was physically demanding. As he pulled himself along under the pipes, weighed down with protective gear, the heat was oppressive. Far from home, he would sit on the bed in his room at night wondering how his life could have come to this.
“What I was there for was to forget everything that had happened,” Bazan says. But the burden was overwhelming and he couldn’t shake it off. Even going to mass at the local Catholic church left him feeling empty.
After several months of work on the refineries, Bazan returned home to find that Cynthia had begun attending Grulla MB Church at the invitation of her cousin, Ruth Parrera. Cynthia eventually persuaded her husband to visit the church. “Let’s see how you like it,” she had told him. The first Sunday at Grulla MB was a whole new beginning for Bazan.
“The first time I went I broke down and cried,” says Bazan. “(Pastor Aaron Hernandez) asked that whoever wanted spiritual help to go forward, and I just got up and walked forward. I went up to the front right there on the step and he started praying for me.”
Bazan is at a loss for words to describe the experience that Sunday morning as members of the congregation joined Hernandez in laying hands on him and praying for him. But he is clear about the change that has come about in his life. “It turned me around.”
He marvels at the way his family has come together. “It’s something that I never thought I’d see,” he says.“Everybody goes to church, even my grandsons—everybody! Before I was going one way and my family was going another.”
Hernandez confirms that Bazan’s life has been transformed. “He has really matured into one of the most godly people we have in church,” says the pastor.
When Bazan started at the church, they offered him a Spanish language Bible. When he asked if he could have one in English instead, church elder Rene Pena offered his own Bible. Bazan treasures this gift and has read through it twice. Now on his third time through, he is currently in the book of Isaiah. “There are things I don’tunderstand; now on this third time around, I’m picking it up.”
“It’s guidance,” he adds. “When I want to find a solution I go back to the Bible. I don’t think I could go a day without reading a part of it.”
Life Groups, Grulla MB’s small group ministry, is the place where Bazan shares what he is reading and asks questions. Their Wednesday night gathering is the highlight of his week. He says that people would notice his good cheer in the middle of the week and ask him why he was so happy. By now everyone knows his answer: “It’s Wednesday! The family is there, the members of the church are there. We’re going to be together and we are going to talk about Christ.”
Sunday morning services at Grulla MBalso feed this eager mind from the Scripture. “Everything he says is right out of the Bible,” Bazan says of Hernandez’s teaching. “He explains in plain English what you read in the Bible. He makes it easy.
“It feels like sometimes he (Pastor Hernandez) knows what’s going on in our lives and he talks about it,” adds Bazan. “My wife and I look at each other and think, ‘How does he know about it?’”
Since the loss of his business, Bazan has worked for several businesses. Employers quickly recognize his leadership skills, and he has moved up in management roles. But no matter what job he has to do, Bazan takes the Scripture’s instruction about work seriously: “Like it says in the Bible, work as if you work for Christ. I put that in my head that I was working for the Lord—even ifit was hard work, even if I didn’t like the work.”
His attitude was tested when one job had him working seven days a week, and he had to miss church. He is thankful now to have a job that allows him to be back in church. “I haven’t missed a Sunday since,” he says.
Recently people have approached Bazan about opening his business again. They offered him some big jobs. It was enticing and he struggled with whether to pursue these opportunities. He prayed that God would give him a sign.
When he raised the question with Cynthia, she was clear: “I don’t want to go back to the life we had.”
Bazan was satisfied that he had his answer. “I wanted a sign,” he said. “Do I need a bigger one? I think God answered my question.”
Bazanis in total agreement with Cynthia on this point. He never wants to go back to the life they had before they came to know Christ and became part of La Grulla MB. “They caught me before I had fallen all the way,” he reflects. “Back then I had everything, but I had nothing. I had material things, but now I have God.”
A side story: Experiencing God’s discipline
In reading through the Bible Bazan has noticed that sometimes God punishes people for their disobedience. He experienced that discipline himself one day when he was working in his yard.
He had hired a man to do some tree trimming in his yard and the man had cut far too many branches from his trees. Bazan boiled with anger as he worked with his backhoe to haul off the brush. “I was thinking bad thoughts about this guy and saying bad things in Spanish and a branch came back and hit me right in the mouth! It split my lip. But I said thank you, God, I needed that.”