Home Pastors Luis Molina, pastor on the southeast side of Victory Outreach, dies at 60

Luis Molina, pastor on the southeast side of Victory Outreach, dies at 60

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Luis Molina Jr., a Southeastern pastor known for his work with gang members and people struggling with drug addiction, died Monday at his home near Windcrest. He was 60 years old.

“He left a great legacy, reaching generations for the wounded city of San Antonio. We have children coming back to the ministry because of his love. His love was overwhelming, and you just couldn’t forget him,” said his granddaughter Arianna, 25. “He was a father to everyone, going to the streets, going to the neighborhood where no one wants to go. He inspired and believed in so many, raising future pastors and leaders, he responded to the true call of God.

When 18-year-old Dana Michea Marquez arrived in San Antonio in May 1997, she felt adrift. Originally from Columbia, South Carolina, Marquez had no family to speak of in Texas, let alone Alamo City.

But Molina, senior pastor of Victory Outreach San Antonio-Central, welcomed her with open arms. Having spent much of his childhood and young adulthood entangled in crime in Southern California, Molina himself was a transplant — a stranger in a foreign land.

Over time, Molina developed a deep and lasting love for his adopted hometown, although he never gave up his allegiance to the Oakland Raiders (now Las Vegas).

“He also loved Spurs. He loved the Riverwalk. He loved people in the city, especially on the streets,” Marquez said. “He never said anything negative about anyone. Always a helping hand. Everyone who met him was always inspired by him.

One of Molina’s most significant contributions to the San Antonio community was her work with the depressed, including “drug addicts and gang members,” Marquez said.

Maybe it was because he could identify with their struggles.

Born in Santa Barbara on Oct. 7, 1961, Molina “ran the streets of California” before finding religion, Marquez said. Once he did, he devoted his life to righting some of the wrongs he saw in the world, often bringing his work home with him. He celebrated baptisms in his swimming pool and received parishioners for the holidays. Sometimes his benevolence came back to bite him. He was despised. It was stolen. But he retained his affection for humanity despite everything.

Marquez described the pastor as forgiving.

“His focus was always on leadership, on seeing the best in people when they couldn’t even see the potential in themselves,” Marquez said. “He and his wife always had people living with them, always giving them a second chance.”

Alfonzo “Fonzy” Rodriguez, left, is pictured with Pastor Luis Molina.

Photo courtesy of Alfonzo ÒFonzyÓ Rodriguez.

Alfonzo “Fonzy” Rodriguez, 43, first met Molina when Rodriguez moved into Victory Outreach men’s recovery home in 2006. At the time, Rodriguez was battling alcoholism. Her relationship with some family members had broken down and her self-esteem was low. Now sober, he credits Molina’s willingness to show Rodriguez “how to seek the face of the Lord” for his success in getting and staying sober.

“We hung out a lot, talked all the time, whether we talked on the phone or I went to his house and hung out with him,” Rodriguez said. “He had a big impact on my life. I don’t think I would be the man I am today without him in my life.

Marquez and Rodriguez feel the loss keenly. For them, Molina was not just a pastor or a mentor; he was a father figure. Neither had the opportunity to get to know their biological fathers as children, so Molina picked up the slack.

As such, Marquez, who was born to a young mother and raised by her grandparents, described the Victory Outreach community as more like a family than a congregation. Internal terminology reflected its tight-knit nature.

“The children in the church called him and his wife, Nonna and Papa,” she said.

Befitting her role as a ‘spirit girl’, Marquez was there for Molina when he had health issues.

In the mid-2000s, Molina was diagnosed with stage III non-Hodgkin’s B-cell lymphoma, a common form of lymphatic cancer. A board game in tow, Marquez accompanied Debbie, Molina’s wife, on her late night visits to the hospital.

“The pastor would be medicated and still beat Sis. Debbie and I at Scrabble at 2 a.m. while he was in his hospital bed,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

While Molina was recovering, the treatment damaged his kidneys and he received a transplant in 2010.

Towards the end of his life, Molina’s liver began to fail. Her donor kidney quickly followed suit. Yet, as his health deteriorated, he still made his ministry a priority.

“Even in his illness, even when he couldn’t walk, until his last moment before going on sabbatical, he was still preaching from the pulpit,” Marquez said. “Even when people had to lift him to walk and stand, he still went to church every Sunday.”

He is survived by his wife, Deborah; children, John and Sophia; grandchildren, Arianna, Moses, Zariah, Elias, Ellyanna, Derek, Devin and Dez; and his siblings, Martin, Vince, Efran and Regina. Martin and Vince are also pastors.

A memorial service will be held at Victory Outreach Church on January 22.

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