By Allison Hurtado
Jessy Padilla, along with other Latino believers, planted Casa de Vida, McHenry, Illinois, in 2010. McHenry is a small town and is located 55 miles outside of Chicago. Orchard Church has rented their building to Casa de Vida for the Spanish-speaking services, up until a building opportunity appeared.
Shirley and Nepthali Mullings started helping at Casa de Vida in March 2011, and in January 2012 were installed as the senior pastors.
Casa de Vida is invested in their community. Shirley and her husband have started a food pantry, connected with the Northern Illinois Food Bank and deliver food every Wednesday. People are also welcome to pick up boxes from the church’s office space. Shirley also counsels in the same office.
“I’d like to do a group thing because a lot of kids in our community are already using drugs,” she said. “I need more space to run a prevention outreach program. I already do marriage counseling and would love to have room for groups.”
While the Mullings were starting to think about finding a permanent space for the growing congregation of 100, a real estate agent from whom they rented office space notified them of a clubhouse for sale. They had prayed the building would still be for sale and hoped the owners would take any offer. The building is located in the middle of three apartment buildings; it would be perfect for church attendees without cars. The building appeared to be in great shape, so renovations would be few and far between. The only problem was the asking price: $357,000.
“He told us he had the perfect space for us,” Shirley said. “It was perfect, but it was just too much money.”
As it turned out, the homeowners association that owned the clubhouse could not legally profit from the sale of the building. This changed everything for the church. The asking price was lowered, and interest by others in the building was even lower. The real estate agent brought Nepthali to a meeting and told him they had nothing to lose. At this point, trying to sell the building had become so frustrating that one HOA staff member was willing to give it away for a dollar.
“We got the building for $10,000, and Converge MidAmerica loaned us $50,000 to help cover renovations,” Shirley said. “We just couldn’t believe this opportunity. The clubhouse also sits on three acres of land.”
They closed on the building October 2 and have already started renovations. However, it needs more than planned to bring it up to city code. Shirley says there is no doubt in their hearts that God who provided this gift will also provide the gift-wrapping. The new building will serve as a place of worship and counseling.
But that isn’t all Casa de Vida is up to. Shirley has been helping run the Hispanic Women’s Ministry for Converge MidAmerica. The church also hosted a retreat for families over Labor Day
weekend in Wisconsin.
“It’s funny because my husband was afraid of the retreat being too far from McHenry, so we weren’t sure how many would come,” Shirley said. “But we had the best attendance ever, and we had 10 people get baptized. The youngest was 12 and the oldest 32. It was beautiful.”