“I became an arrogant leader without integrity. I had head-knowledge about the Bible but I was a hypocrite, teaching things that I was not practicing myself. At the time, being a pastor was all about showmanship.” – Oscar Castillo
“I can remember walking to church with my family through the slums of El Salvador,” said Oscar Castillo. “There was a lot of crime in the area, but they would not rob my father because he was a pastor. Watching my father serve Christ faithfully there and when we moved to the U.S. helped give me a heart to minister to others as well.123
“When our family moved to Texas, my father had only $20 and a heart to build a church serving the Hispanic community. For the first six months we lived on the concrete floor of a garage in a friend’s home in Garland. When we finally got a place of our own, my mom cleaned houses to make ends meet while my father started a church plant.
“When I was in 5th grade we lived in a neighborhood where drive-by shootings were common. I got jumped several times, and to keep me from gang activity, my parents never let me stay at any school for more than a year. I went every-
where from public schools in Oak Cliff to a private Christian school in Irving to finally graduating from Frisco High.
“After high school, I felt led to go to Bible college in Guatemala. I worked in an orphanage and also served people who lived in a landfill and survived off the scraps they found.
I spoke in rural churches where electricity and clean drinking water were scarce commodities. I was amazed by the contentment the people had amidst so much poverty.
“Upon returning home, my father offered me the job of associate pastor at his church. In hindsight, I realize the church subscribed to a works-based theology, which had the underlying message that you could lose your salvation if you weren’t ‘good enough’ for God. I became a leader without integrity. I had head-knowledge about the Bible, but I was
a hypocrite, teaching things that I was not practicing myself. At the time, being a pastor was all about showmanship.
“I was making pennies, so I decided to supplement my income by getting into real estate. Once the economy picked up, I did well. Soon I was living a double life – serving the church while finding my identity in money and my new car.
I even broke off an engagement because my former girlfriend did not fit the image I wanted in the business world.
“My life changed radically in 2007, when the real estate market slowed down, and the church where I worked began to question my father’s leadership as senior pastor. Ugly accusations were made against my father, and I was caught in the middle. Eventually the church had a vote on whether to keep my father or let him go. With manipulation and misinformation swirling around me, I voted against my own father. I then found myself as the church’s lead pastor.
“It only took a few months of serving as the church’s lead pastor before I realized there was no way I could continue. Feeling very hurt, my parents returned to El Salvador
for a while. As both family and church conflicts continued,
I moved to California. After seeing all that happened in church politics, my heart was bitter.
“At the same time, the real estate market dried up, and I was left with no income and scrambling to make ends meet. My girlfriend broke up with me, and my brother who was with me in California moved to Guatemala. I was alone, in family conflict, broke and in debt for more
“Deeply depressed, I started questioning why the Lord would allow such pain? We’d been good servants, so why were we repaid this way? Then one day, I was back in Dallas, driving around with the radio on. I heard a pastor presenting a very clear message on the gospel, and those words hit me like never before. For the first time, I heard that God loved me unconditionally in spite of my sin. My identity was not based on what I did for God but what He did for me. For someone who’d struggled with the idea that I could lose my salvation, completely understanding the truth of God’s grace was a turning point.
“I got involved at a local church, and God reshaped my view of Him and of other believers. This conviction has shifted the way I view myself in light of a Holy God, and how I view others around me, whether they are Jesus-followers or not.
“After truly surrendering my life to the Lord, I’ve been blessed to serve in local churches and at non-profit
organizations as well. Since marrying my wife, Brianna,
in 2012, my work in ministry has taken us everywhere from North Dallas to Latin America to Minneapolis to right here at Watermark.
“In spite of past discouragement, I remain convinced that the church – followers of Christ – are the hope of the world. We want to be part of this new chapter God is writing here at Watermark as we reach out to international people groups in the community around us.
“I used to ask God to give me things so I could make it big in this world. Now I ask the Lord to be the center of my life and make me all He wants me to be. No matter if I am successful in the world’s eyes, I know God loves me freely and unconditionally. That love has changed me, and it has trickled down into every aspect of my life.”