SAN ANTONIO — A local ministry is scrambling to function after the founder says one of their own stole their truck.
Pastor Ronnie Hernandez of Anchored By Hope Christian Ministry and faith-based non-profit Hope House Men's Recovery Home says the vehicle was donated to them because of the work they do helping men recover from addiction. It served as their main means of transportation.
Hernandez and his wife Belinda say this theft sparked a chain reaction.
"Everything we have, someone has given to us," said Donald Johnson, a resident of Hope House.
Johnson says all food and necessities are given to residents who are working to turn their life around.
"They're on drugs or alcohol. They're just tired. We have to take them in. We are willing to take them in," said Johnson, who serves in a supervisory role at Hope House Men's Recovery Home.
"We don't look at their background. We don't focus on how they smell, how they're dressed, where they've been at," Pastor Ronnie explained. "We're looking at what God can do in the future."
Without this truck, Johnson said the ministry's ability to fundraise is cut in half.
"When this guy came in, we gave him we all got that love, that openness, that acceptance. To find out after a week or so that he steals the truck, it was like it was like a stab in the heart," said Johnson.
Tuesday around lunchtime, Hope House Director, Christopher Girard, was joined by fellow members remodeling a home off Beam Boulevard on the south side.
The ministry's truck, a Chevy Silverado, was parked out front.
"Our truck is a V8, so I hear just boom, boom. I knew it was our truck, the sound of it. So my heart fell," said Girard.
Girard says behind the wheel was one of their members. He said he tried to stop the truck, but was nearly run over.
"Almost threw me to the ground," said Girard.
The truck is used to pickup food and clothing donations, for construction projects for the church, community outreach and to pick up men who call to join their ministry.
"The first thing that came to my my mind was you stole from Jesus," said Belinda.
The Hernandez family says the man who took the truck was just baptized Sunday.
"My hands were physically on this man. I laid hands upon him, we prayed upon him. He accepted Jesus into his heart, into his life," said Pastor Ronnie.
They tried to search for the truck, but being so close to two major highways made it even more of a challenge. They called off their search once the storm rolled in Tuesday.
Hope House is using a smaller car in the meantime, but they can't do the same work.
"Leave it in God's hands and hope something comes out of this, get the truck back or have another truck, because every day without the truck is losing a day for what we need to be serving the community," Belinda explained. "If we get a phone call that says, 'Hey, here's a vehicle, it's at this location.' We just want it back to continue because we're at a standstill right now."
"We give ourselves a 20 to 30 minute timeframe from the point that a gentleman calls and says, 'Pastor, I want to change my life'. So we go pick them up. So it's affecting straight across," said Pastor Ronnie.
Hope House has faced adversity in the past. Shortly after opening their doors two years ago, their recovery home caught fire.
All involved say they've forgiven the man who stole the ministry's truck.
"How can I call myself a Christian if I don't have forgiveness for the gentleman? So what I see is this: If I hold it against a man, then it goes against what I've been taught," said Girard.
"They accepted us as is. They overlooked whatever we may have done to get here. So we understand the importance of forgiving other people," said Johnson, who explained how the residents got together Tuesday evening to pray and forgive the man who stole the truck.
"It seems like we're down, but we're actually high in spirits. We thank God that we're still here, our director as well, and we're standing on our two feet by the grace of God," said Pastor Ronnie.
The public should be on the lookout for a 2002 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD extended cab with the license plate PJG-1307. The truck is pictured below:
San Antonio Police are investigating this case. If you spot the vehicle, call authorities as soon as possible.
"If this gentleman is out there listening, we do have a heart. We are a forgiving ministry. We are forgiving pastors. We love to work with sinners," said Pastor Ronnie. "If you need that second chance, an opportunity that no possibly no other church or pastor will give you, we'll give it to you here at Anchored By Hope Christian Ministry and Hope House Men's Recovery Home."
"We can easily say, okay, throw in the towel. This is over. We're not doing this anymore. Someone did this wrong. But then what happens? The future thousand souls, men that will come into that home would lose that opportunity. We just have to keep going forward," Belinda added.
To learn more about Hope House Men's Recovery Home, feel free to get in touch with Pastor Ronnie Hernandez at 210-505-6508. Their church, Anchored By Hope Christian Ministry is located at 1307 W. Theo Avenue.
In 2023, Pastor Ronnie says their vision is to start a women's recovery home in San Antonio.
The church set up this GoFundMe page to raise money for a new truck: https://www.gofundme.com/f/replace-our-stolen-ministry-truck?member=27374135&sharetype=teams&utm_campaign=p_na+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer