Augie Barajas, M.Div. ’07
OCCUPATION: Pastor, Victory Outreach of Eagle Rock, California; Leader, Victory Outreach United Prayer International
LESSON LEARNED: God transcends borders.
MY STORY: Augie Barajas is excited about Africa. Since his first trip to the continent, in the country of Nigeria in 2001, he has had the opportunity to be part of the conversion of 80 local gang members who became a thriving church. This drew the attention of government officials and the media, which resulted in appearances on national television. After a meeting with the vice president of Liberia, the African work continued to expand, leading to the establishment of the first rehabilitation home and the overseeing of 24 churches in Liberia.
But the story of Augie’s work in Africa begins thousands of miles west, across the Atlantic Ocean, in Mexico City. There, in 1955, he was born the 15th of 16 children. From an early age, he found himself confronted with severe challenges, including the shame of sexual molestation and the burden of extreme poverty.
When Augie was a teenager, his family attempted to escape their dire conditions by immigrating to Los Angeles. But life in the United States proved difficult as well. “As I entered junior high, I faced a lot of rejection, prejudice, and hostility simply because I was Mexican and could not speak the language,” he said. “For me, the promise of heaven in the United States had become a living hell, and drugs became my temporary anesthesia.”
The solace Augie found in drugs eventually turned into a lifestyle of addiction and violence that culminated in being arrested and sentenced to a rehabilitation program. Disillusioned and broken, he began to seek divine help. But he found that traditional churches were often unable to relate to his problems.
In 1975, Augie found a spiritual home at Victory Outreach, a ministry born to reach the hurting people of inner cities. “When I walked in, I saw a church full of people with tattoos,” he said. “When the preacher gave the altar call at the end of his sermon, my girlfriend Mary (now my wife) and I accepted the Lord into our lives. My hell turned into the hope of an eternal heaven.”
Twelve years after his conversion, Augie began pastoring with Victory Outreach in hopes of helping others experience a similar transformation. Early on, he realized that this was going to be an international calling. “I received the burden to pray for and evangelize the continent of Africa, which was planted in my heart by the vision of my senior pastor, Sonny Arguinzoni, Sr.,” he said. Augie set out to acquire the spiritual and practical training he knew he would need to accomplish his calling, eventually graduating from APU’s C.P. Haggard Graduate School of Theology with a Master of Divinity degree in December 2007.
Today, he pastors a Victory Outreach church with a mission-minded congregation in Eagle Rock, California, and serves with his wife as a leader of United Prayer International for Victory Outreach. It is evident that God has brought him full circle. Where he once traveled across a border in need of healing and hope, he now helps bring that same healing and hope to others—at home in America and across borders in Africa. “I’m a man with a grateful heart,” he said, “for the God who goes with us everywhere.”