Richards New Chaplaincy Conductor for Locomotives
It has been nearly a year of vacancy for the El Paso Locomotive FC (USL-Championship) chaplaincy position, but the train is finally starting to pull out of the station. Despite making a chaplain placement during COVID in 2020, the former chaplain moved on to take a different church position, leaving a gap that was difficult to fill. I made about phone call and email inquiries to over 20 pastors in the El Paso area. I mainly head voice mail messages or got no response. It was discouraging, in the very least. From those that I was able to speak with, the answer that usually came back was, “I am too busy.” Again, discouraging.
Fast forward to my meet up with San Jose (MLS) Volunteer Chaplains Carlos Alejandro in Colorado Springs a couple of months ago. He was in the area to take part in a large Hispanic ministry conference at Focus on the Family. He introduced me to the ministry coordinator for the Billy Graham Association. I shared with him the need for finding a bilingual chaplain in the El Paso area and a day later, he connected me to Mike Richards.
Mike is currently the Executive Pastor and West Campus Pastor at Vino Nuevo El Paso. Vino Nuevo is a fully Hispanic non-denominational congregation with 3 campuses in El Paso, two in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and one in Chihuahua, Chihuahua.
Funny enough, when Mike and I first spoke by phone he mentioned that he might be in the area of Colorado Springs fairly soon, could we meet up? At a coffee shop in Monument Mike and I met for a couple of hours. Our time allowed me to hear Mike’s story, to hear about his passion for people and for ministry, the history of his church and his family’s ministry in Mexico and in El Paso. Part of Mike and Vino Nuevo’s vision has been to serve the city of El Paso, especially in the area of athletics. Mike and the church had been praying about opportunities and had even explored Baseball Chapel, but things didn’t work out.
The desire to serve our cities athletes and organizations seemed to come to a stop. It was disappointing, but we started to pray again. Shortly after, I got a call from a friend. ‘Mike, have you heard about Soccer Chaplains United? They are looking for a volunteer chaplain for the fútbol team…’ I am really excited to work toward partnering with El Paso Locomotives FC and being a blessing to this club and to our city.Mike, sharing about the timing of being connected to Soccer Chaplains United
Shortly after our meeting in Colorado Springs, Mike applied and went through the interview and vetting process that we take candidates through. He shared about his various experiences in the church and in ministry and the call of God on his heart and life.
In addition to his work with Vino Nuevo, Mike is the Executive Director of the one of the largest Hispanic youth conference in the United States, Visión Juvenil. VJ is a ministry dedicated to inspiring the upper echelons of high school and university students into their God given calling and purpose.
Next March, Mike is slated to take over Senior Pastor duties at the church. The new opportunity will allow Mike to spend more time preaching and being with people, pastorally, a key consideration in the process for both Mike and for Soccer Chaplains United in making this placement at this time.
For this season, a hope of mine is to get to know the coaches, athletes, and staff of the organization. TO know them better. To listen. To hear. To discover how best to serve them as a chaplain…and, also, how to join them with theirMike, sharing about his hopes for progress with the El Paso chaplaincy
Mike’s appointment brings Soccer Chaplains United’s chaplain corps to 26 and he becomes the second volunteer chaplain in the history of the El Paso Locomotives FC team.
Soccer Chaplains United is non-profit, 501(c)3 and depends upon the financial support of our partners to carry out our work of developing chaplaincy across all levels of soccer. Please consider making a contribution today to help us continue growing our work. Our chaplains are not employed or paid by any of the clubs that we serve. Check out our Donation Page with all the different options. Or, simply click the PushPay link below to make a secure, online, tax-deductible gift, or mail a donation to Soccer Chaplains United, PO Box 102081, Denver, CO 80250.