I have a special guest today and very close friend Obed Escobar
Obed is the Director of The Titus Foundation . He Served as the City of Phoenix Coordinator for the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative, a national faith-based leadership development program for Urban Youth Workers. He also served as an Associate at Christ Church of the Valley. He is a member of the Child Safety and Family Empowerment, Council for the Office of the Governor in the State of Arizona. He also serves on the Advisory Board of Grand Canyon University Theological Seminary & College of Theology. Obed has a BS in Management from Grand Canyon University. He and his wife Teresa live in Gilbert, AZ with their two daughters.
Christ’s Church of the Valley: https://ccv.church/
CCV Missions: www.ccv.church/missions
Pastor Larrie Fraley: linkedin.com/in/larrie-fraley-53445032
Episode 10 Obed Escobar
Larrie: [00:00:01] Welcome to another episode of Let's Go Through 360. It's a podcast for listeners who want to know more about what God is doing around the world here near and far. This podcast is sponsored by Christ's Church of the Valley, also known as CCV. One Church with many locations across the Greater Phoenix area with plans to expand where ever God wants to go. As always, our show notes will have links to helpful information discussed in each podcast, along with a complete transcript of every episode. Check out all the episodes on Let's Go 360 dot.org And check out CCV's website at ccv.church. My name is Larrie Fraley. I'm your host and lead pastor of the local and global missions here at CCV. I have a special guest with me today and a very close friend, Obed Escobar Obed is the director of the Titus Foundation. He served as the city of Phoenix coordinator for the Davos Urban Leadership Initiative, a national faith based leadership development program for urban youth workers. He also served as an associate pastor right here at Christ Church of the Valley. He's a member of the Child Safety and Family Empowerment Council for the Office of the Governor of the State of Arizona. He also serves on an advisory board of Grand Canyon University Theological Seminary and College of Theology. Obed has a BS in management from Grand Canyon University. He and his wife, Teresa, live in Gilbert, Arizona, with their two daughters, Obed. Welcome to the show.
Obed: [00:01:45] Well, it's a pleasure to be here with you, Larrie.
Larrie: [00:01:49] You know, before we dive in today, tell our listeners a little bit about your your family and and maybe share your story with us.
Obed: [00:01:57] Sure. I am from originally from Guatemala, and I came to the States about 31 years ago, and we came to Arizona and to the valley of the sun. And we haven't left. I haven't left here. I love the valley of the sun.
Larrie: [00:02:15] Yeah, That's amazing. So you've been in the Valley for how long now?
Obed: [00:02:19] For 31 years.
Larrie: [00:02:21] 31 years. So tell us a little bit about the Titus Foundation, how to get started and what's its vision and mission?
Obed: [00:02:29] Yes, so we have been training and working with local urban churches, most of them Hispanic churches, trying to help them one way or another. But it's been probably like three years ago or the way we started praying like five years ago. About three years ago we started the Titus Foundation with the help of CCV, and we did that because we realized that urban churches needed support to grow, to expand and to reach out to the next generation of Hispanics here in the Valley. And so we decided to get it going and equip the church and empower the urban church again to reach out the next generation of Hispanic people, young people.
Larrie: [00:03:14] That's amazing. And I know that in talking with some of those that you've trained and you're mentoring, that they are just experiencing an amazing experience. And so I congratulate you that you are really doing a good job in this area. So what problem were you trying to address?
Obed: [00:03:34] So the main thing that we're trying to address is the lack of training opportunities for young leaders in underserved communities. Another problem that we're trying to address, the lack of resources. Larrie, many times we train these young leaders and they are ready to go and reach out the younger generation and bring transformation to the community. And then we found out they find out they don't have the resources. So we lack the support system, those are the needs that we are addressing. So the lack of training, opportunities and resources for them and provide for them a support system that will help them reach out to their communities.
Larrie: [00:04:16] Well, I know I just got a text here yesterday from Carla Astudillo and she just replied or just made a point to reach out to me and said, Hey, hello. I spend this morning with Pastor Obed. My husband and I are currently enrolled in the Titus foundation leadership program. I just wanted to say how much of a blessing that is in my life. We couldn't resist bringing this up to you. I hope you're doing well and I'll keep you in my prayers. So here's just another example of a young lady, the daughter of a pastor that we helped get started, a church get started in Avondale and Pastor Roy. And so that church, we helped get started and now his daughter is enrolling in your leadership program. What an interesting time it is for all of these different connections that are being made through CCV and through ministries like yourself.
Obed: [00:05:17] Yes. And after we talk about the problems, you know, the need that we are trying to address. So we come alongside the next generation of leaders who believe in the God given potential of every student, all of them. We partnered with them, Larrie, by providing training, we provide for them resources and also we provide community. We found out how they how big the need is for community. So after we train them and equip them, we keep them working together and we provide resources for them as well.
Larrie: [00:05:48] Yeah. So give me give us an idea of maybe some of the tactics you're using. How do you go about doing this training?
Obed: [00:05:55] So pretty much we approached the senior pastors of every urban church and we expose to them or tell them what Titus is all about. And the first question that they ask is How much will it cost for me to put my leaders through your training? And with the help of CCV and other churches, we are able to provide that training, Larrie, for free. And so we always want it to impact the next generation of Hispanics here in the Valley. And so because we may have not the time to train all of them. So we focus in in training the leaders, knowing that they will invest themselves into their students as well.
Larrie: [00:06:35] So do you have an example of perhaps someone that you've helped that's been transformed, that's changed, that you've been able to see a difference that it's made in their lives?
Obed: [00:06:45] Yes, Cynthia Pena comes to my mind. We approach her about the training. We saw her work. She was doing an excellent work equipping and training young, urban kids. And when we approached her about the training that we provide, she said, Pastor Obed, I do not qualify for it. And I said, Why not? She said, I haven't even finished high school and this is about training and I have no idea how to go into getting a training for myself. And I said, Cynthia, this this is exactly the training that you need. And she went and she was nervous at the beginning, Larrie. But I can tell you that four years after she went through the training, she's a completely different leader now. She's even training leaders at the national level withheld the nomination. And in this year for the cohort of 2022, here's her son. Alex is part of the training as well. And so it's great to see that the her son is now training to be a leader just like his mom. And Cynthia is a completely different leader now. Now she has the tools, now she has the the the empowerment that she needs to make a difference not only in the students for her church, but also in the community.
Larrie: [00:08:01] That's amazing. So you mentioned cohort. So your model is that you form these cohorts, which is a group of of leaders that you're going to train. What's the average size of a cohort?
Obed: [00:08:12] We have a 12 to 15 students every year that we meet meet with them for training for the 12 months. But we also have workshops throughout the year, three or four of them, when we bring more than 30 or 40 students at the same time. Also, there's another training opportunity that we provide, Larrie, that our citywide conference last year, we held our conference at Grand Canyon University, and we had more than 300 youth urban leaders that attended that conference.
Larrie: [00:08:43] Wow. So you started Titus right about the time COVID hit?
Obed: [00:08:48] Yes.
Larrie: [00:08:50] How did you work through that?
Obed: [00:08:51] It was it was very hard because, you know, we were not allowed to meet. So some of the training sessions that we have, we had them thank God for Zoom. Right? We did it via Zoom. But at the same time, many of the leaders that were going through the program, they said, thank you so much, because I don't know if you remember that they closed the churches and they said, you know, even though our Church was closed, The doors of our church were closed, We were able to still meet and grow together in the Word and also in fellowship with other urban leaders in the city.
Larrie: [00:09:26] You know, that's a that's a story that's just been told over and over with churches. And so even though, you know, even though there was this pandemic, God still grew the church. And so I believe we're stronger now than we were before. I know there's going to be an announcement this weekend. I'm not real sure I'm supposed to say it, but I'll say it anyhow. Actually, by the time this airs, it'll be past. So this weekend to the day CCV closed their doors. Now. They didn't close the church, but we had to shut the church down from people meeting. And it's been two years to this to this, this weekend. And this weekend is also the 40th anniversary of CCV. Now, I believe Ashley is going to announce and I hope I don't get fired for this, that this weekend CCV is now back at 100%. In other words, the same number that we were before COVID. Now, that's not the end of that story because our online presence is off the charts. There are thousands of people listening online to CCV, so the church actually grew as a result of COVID. So the next thing I want to talk to you a little bit about, which we didn't talk about before this podcast, but as you were talking here about these leaders, you know that I lead and Mark Moore and I lead a men's hike every year through the Holy Lands. We start in Nazareth and we hike up into the to Capernaum, which is about 120 miles. We have backpacks and we stay at hostels and and we learn about what Jesus taught his disciples through that whole journey. And of course, we're walking in the very land and even perhaps on some of the very roads that Jesus walked on. Is is it possible that we might assemble 12 of your leaders and perhaps schedule a trip like that with your leaders?
Obed: [00:11:32] As a matter of fact, that's one of our dreams and hope for the future, because after they go through the training that they start working in the city, they are like, Pastor Obed, what is next? And we have prayed, as a matter of fact, that someday we'll be able to take a group of students, you know, that can go to the Holy Land. That will be a dream come true. And it will bless a lot of young leaders here in the valley.
Larrie: [00:11:56] Well, it will grow them. I can tell you, this will be our fourth year in doing this. And the men that come back from this trip are changed. I mean, you can imagine what it's like walking over these same roads that Jesus and his disciples walked over, and then we stop and rest under a under a fig tree. And then, of course, you turn Mark Moore on. There's a little switch in his back. We just kind of flip him on. And all of a sudden, all of this wisdom and knowledge come come out. And the men are they feel as if they're right there, as if they were one of the disciples. And that's the purpose, is that this is a discipleship making trip that we we do every year. So let's talk after the podcast about how we might make that happen. Let's get the planning in place for that. Now, I wish I could say we could do couples, but we just have not figured out how to take men and women on this trip in the hike like this. But we're working on that. So anyhow, Do you have any other stories that you can share with us about someone that's been changed?
Obed: [00:13:01] Yes, for sure. So pastoral. I remember that you mentioned Pastor Roy and Pastor Roy had been a blessing for Titus Foundation as well. But he always tells people how when his leader started being a part of the Titus Foundation training, that even his whole church changed because this kid went to their parents and told them that I want to grow in the Lord and wanted to serve the church. And most importantly, Larrie, I want to serve my communities. Part of the training with the Titus Foundation is not only to disciple the next generation, but also to use the next generation to bring transformation to their communities. And and that is exciting for us to see not only the gospel, the power of the gospel changing and transforming lives, but transforming their communities as well.
Larrie: [00:13:53] Amazing. Well, what are some of the biggest challenges you're facing right now?
Obed: [00:13:58] It's some of the challenges I will say is that the Hispanic community, our urban churches, has never been exposed to this type of training. That's an organization goes in their churches and says, we want to equip you. And at the beginning, they are a little reluctant to accept accept the help. But now God has been opening doors because all these testimonies, Brother Roy and Cynthia Pena and I can name hundreds of students that God had used Titus to bring transformation to their life. Now the pastors are more open to let their students go to our training after days here, like you said, after they hear all these testimonies that are taking place because of the work of Titus Foundation, supported by CV.
Larrie: [00:14:39] So as you look into the future, what opportunities do you see? Are there opportunities that you're planning to to take advantage of? What are some of your plans and goals?
Obed: [00:14:50] One of the vision that we have for Phoenix, Larrie, is having a space, I would call it, like A training hub office space somewhere in downtown Phoenix. So we can give the urban leaders a place to gather for prayer, for planning and also for collaboration. After students go to our training, we are big into how are you collaborating with each other? One church with all the churches to bring transformation to the community. You see, sometimes a church may have a resource that the other church two miles down the road do not have. And so we encourage collaboration is one of our core values for the Titus Foundation. So you mentioned before about measuring success as well. So we measure success by how churches, after they go through the training, are working together in the community. And so having this training hub or office space in downtown Phoenix, I think it's going to help and make our vision grow exponentially.
Larrie: [00:15:48] Great. Well, we've supported you now for a few years. And can you describe a time in Titus history that maybe has enabled you to accomplish something?
Obed: [00:16:00] That is many, many ways, Larrie, because this is not only provides help to Titus Foundation financially, but from time to time we bring leaders from urban areas into the CCV campuses. And I can tell you we have had many examples. For example, Brian Leach with our Kid's Children Ministry of CCV. When we bring those leaders into CCV, he actually takes time to train them and to equip them. And in one occasion, he's even gone into one of our urban communities and train children workers in their own churches. So. Another example is when we have our citywide conferences, Dustin, the youth pastor, doesn't happen in that. Leo Galarza has been speakers into our conferences. So it's not only the financial investment, Larrie, but it's also the encouragement, the support in every single area that CCV has provided for us.
Larrie: [00:17:06] I remember. I can't. It seems like it's been a number of years ago. You'll probably remember this better than I will. But you brought a group of pastors to CCV. It was on a Sunday. We met over by the baptistery. Yes. And there were a group of pastors that wanted to start a church. And we walked through with them the the process. And as we finished up that decision making process, it was decided that, you know, maybe you should become an associate pastor right here. Yes, he is. And that was Victor. Right. And sure enough, Victor Carmona is now an associate pastor in Avondale. And doing an amazing job. I see him every once in a while and he never misses a chance to thank us for helping him with this decision. Through that decision. He has made an impact on thousands of lives in Avondale. So just another example. And that was pre Titus.
Obed: [00:18:11] Yes, but Titus.
Larrie: [00:18:12] But it was but it was still there was the foundation of what you were trying to do was existed before Titus actually started. So. What advice would you give our listeners regarding what we've talked about today?
Obed: [00:18:24] I will say that to pray and focus and support organizations that are equipping and training the next generation of young people that is truly in our heart to make sure that no other generation we felt, Larrie, that we have lost so many generations of Hispanic young people. And so I will tell the listeners to pray and supporting in any way that they can. Organizations that are focusing and discipling the next generation for Christ.
Larrie: [00:18:55] So how can we pray for you?
Obed: [00:18:58] I will say the wisdom for Titus, with the help of CCV, has been growing exponentially. We truly believe that God is going to use Titus with the support of CCV to bring transformation to every community in the Valley. And so we want to be very effective. We want to make sure our time is used very wisely. So I will say if you guys can pray for us, for wisdom, for favor, and also for the safety and the health of my family.
Larrie: [00:19:22] Well, we'll be sure and do that. Thank you for joining us today. It's been a pleasure. And we look forward to working with you in the future.
Obed: [00:19:30] Thank you so much, Larrie. Again, I want to thank you personally. I want to thank all the staff, because it's many of the staff from CCV have supported us in many ways. And so it is a pleasure to be here as well with you.
Larrie: [00:19:44] Well, as we wrap up today's show, I want to thank you for listening. You can follow us on your favorite app and leave us a five star review, if you like. That way more people can hear about what God is doing around the world. Also, you can follow us on our website letsgo360.org And be sure to check out on. CCV. Church. Hey, thanks for joining us. And as we talk with those who are living out the great commission right now, who are inspired by the Great Commandments so that we all may stand with the great multitude someday before the throne, when the mission of God is complete. May God bless you as we go and send those here near and far.