In the fall of 2009, Pastor Steve Martinez — a dear friend to Pastor Ramon Vela — reached out to Ramon who, at the time, was serving as the Chief of Police for the City of Harlingen. Steve was requesting for Ramon to pick him up at a local dollar store. Once Vela met up with Steve, they proceeded to drive around Harlingen at Steve’s request. They were looking for vacant church buildings, and Ramon, being a Policeman in the city, knew these streets like the back of his hand. During the course of their trip, Ramon led Steve to a vacant building located not far from his workplace — an old, run-down church building near Crockett Elementary School in Harlingen. It was located at 1501 West Jefferson Avenue, less than a mile away from the police station. This particular church had not been occupied for a number of years and it was in dire need of some T.L.C. As Vela and Martinez pulled into the parking lot of this abandoned, lifeless building, Pastor Steve looked Ramon square in the face. His first words were, “are you ready?” “Ready for what?” responded Vela. To make a long-story short, Steve was prophesying what was to come for Pastor Ramon Vela. Upon hearing Steve’s question, doubt began to rush into Vela’s mind. “Pastoring a church is a huge responsibility and I have a full-time job as a Police Chief — don't you understand the type of hours that I’m working?! And there’s absolutely no way that I could give up my involvement in prison ministry which is already a huge commitment. I can’t do both! On top of everything, I just gave my life to God seven years ago — I still have more questions than answers at this point!!!” Pastor Steve and Ramon parted ways shortly after their encounter, no questions asked.
Exactly three days later, Vela stepped into his office on Fair Park Boulevard in Harlingen, Texas. Upon arriving to his desk, he found a magazine instead of his typical mail. Oddly enough, this particular magazine was addressed to the Senior Pastor of 1501 West Jefferson Ave in Harlingen, Texas… the exact location that Vela had visited just three days before with Steve Martinez. After consulting with the individual who handled the mail for the police station about this “mistake,” Vela couldn’t help but notice the article on the front cover of this magazine. The title was “Stepping Out”. This was the exact moment that this God-sized dream of planting a church was confirmed for Pastor Ramon and this was the beginning of the journey to pioneering Breathe Life Christian Church. Shortly after, Vela began researching who the building on Jefferson Avenue belonged to. After finding the church who owned the vacant building, Vela had a chance to meet and pray with the Pastor. Upon hearing Vela’s heart and the divine direction he had received from the Lord, the church decided to allow Vela to use their site for his new ministry. Next, came the renovations… Over the next couple of months, Believers from different churches and ministry groups and several Christian business owners began donating their time, services, and expertise to renovating the future site of Breathe Life Christian Church, and by April of 2010, Vela was preparing to lead the first ever church service in the newly remodeled building. Sunday, May 2 would be the day! Word was being spread throughout surrounding neighborhoods and towns and the excitement was tangible — God was perfectly orchestrating every detail of this new church launch! On April 26, 2010 — the Monday before Breathe Life’s first-ever church service — the city inspector came to perform a final, formal inspection on the property, but the findings were not favorable. The inspector delivered the news to Vela and his wife, Alma: no church services until the church built a new parking lot fully complete with handicap accessible parking spots. The inspection was marked as failed and the defeat felt crippling to the Vela's. Ramon and his wife began to worry. “How can we build a brand new parking lot? With what money? Wasn’t this what God wanted us to do? If so, then why would this happen?” Alma began to cry at the thought of all of the hard work that was put into preperation for May 2nd by her family and a countless number of fellow Believers. Pastor Ramon gently asked his bride to wait in their vehicle for him just before leaving so he could pray once more about the situation. “Okay, God… this is Your church. I haven’t been a Christian for very long. I don’t have a bible degree or pastoral training. My speech is not the best. The church doesn’t have a congregation. We have no band or musical instruments... but I'm willing. I’m willing to pastor and to lead this church. I am praying that You, My God, would give this church life today.” An instant sense of peace came over Vela and he left to be with his wife shortly after. Less than 10 minutes later, Ramon and Alma were walking through Harlingen when they bumped into one of Vela’s long-time friends who also happened to be a prominent business owner in the city. He had heard of everything that was happening with the launch of Vela’s new church and he politely asked how things were going with the first service being less than a week away. Not withholding the defeat that they had just encountered with the city inspector less than 10 minutes ago, Vela shared his final obstacle to opening the doors to his church with his colleague. Without question and without hesitation, this individual — in that exact moment — offered to pay for the entire remodeling of the parking lot at Breathe Life Christian Church in order for the doors to be opened the following Sunday as planned.
By the glory and grace of God, Breathe Life Christian Church held its' first church service on Sunday, May 2, 2010. Over the years, Breathe Life has seen hundreds of individuals come to faith in Jesus Christ and has been instrumental in helping teach the way and the love of the Father to all who may walk through the doors.
“But forget all that it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. 19 For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18, 19