A lot of things can make you want to turn away from JesusBookmark this
A lot of things can make you want to turn away from Jesus,” says Jimmy Robles, founder and pastor at Last Chance Ministries (LCM). Hour by hour, he recounts the morning he discovered his 19-year old daughter, Victoria, or “Tori,” had died in a tragic car accident. The last call he made to her at midnight. The unanswered call at 2 a.m. when she didn’t arrive home. San Antonio police officers, who were also friends of the well-known westside evangelist, confirming the devastating news at noon.
More than a decade into turning his life around for Christ, Robles faced the worst news a parent could endure. "I decided that I could either die with my daughter or live for her, said Robles." I decided to live for her.” Robles swung a baseball bat at his daughter’s funeral and delivered her eulogy marked with the words, “When life hits you, you either get knocked down or hit back.” Pivotal moments like these have characterized his journey with Christ and Last Chance Ministries: from giving up drug dealing; to meeting an unexpected donor through dire financial straits; to praising God despite a monumental loss.
Growing up in the San Antonio 78207 zip code comes with local and national notoriety. Amid rampant gang activity, prostitution and violence, Robles took to selling drugs. In 2005, his life changed. After attending a retreat, he gave his life to Christ. He was immediately called to evangelize back in the streets where he grew up and Last Chance Ministries was born.
"Many of the people who come to us are dying—physically and spiritually—and tell us ‘this is my last chance."
From offering a blessing or simply a hug every Saturday in a vacant lot at Zarzamora and Poplar, his efforts quickly grew to bilingual church services and multiple community outreach programs.
Fourteen years later and with a private donor’s help, LCM has moved into a larger facility on Brady Boulevard. The ministry bought the government building where he used to go to get food stamps. God has a sense of humor. LCM has since expanded to include two sanctuaries, a boxing gym, and the Christian Sports Organization field, a safe place for community youth to practice sports.
Every year they hold a back-to-school event where volunteers distribute nearly 10,000 supply-filled backpacks. Students can also get dental and vision checkups, immunizations and more. They host a warm Thanksgiving meal and Christmas celebration with gifts and activities for thousands of community families every holiday season. These two major outreach events will take place this year in spite of the pandemic. The Thanksgiving event will be held on November 21 and the Christmas outreach on December 19 (see Be A Light section for how you can help). The coronavirus has not stopped this grassroots ministry, which will now opt for drive-thru events. “We’ve also taken our ministry back to the streets where it all started,” said Robles. Holding “Plug-Ins” LCM uses a generator to sing and praise anywhere, from under a bridge to a street corner, to maintain social distancing. “God is still large and in charge!”
Last Chance Ministries serves nearly a hundred people daily with free haircuts, food, fresh clothes, prayer, and non-judgment.
After his daughter’s death, LCM entered a new season of glory. “She grew up evangelizing with me and loved to help the homeless,” her father reflected, who has named several initiatives in Tori’s name. “Now, she’s more alive than ever.” LCM expects to open the first 10 of VicTORIous Point Transitional Homes in 2021, a set of tiny houses to help the local homeless population transition to financial independence. He has also started the VicTORIous Scholarship Fund, which supports high school girls and dropouts.
In the future, Robles hopes to expand to 100 tiny houses, open a Bible institute to disciple others and eventually open a clinic on the LCM campus. Amid COVID-19 and the remote learning orders that came down from the school district, he realized that many children on the westside lack technology and often even an internet connection. As a result, Robles and his team are working to provide computers and a safe, reliable place for students to study. Things are much different on the westside than the northside, he reminds us with a laugh.
In the midst of the pandemic, Robles meets with multiple pastors through his Bridging the Gap monthly meetings. He is trying to help them navigate the COVID-19 crisis. ” It has not been easy”, Robles noted. “There is no rule book about leading spiritually though a pandemic and many pastors are hurting.”
With the slogan, “Hope 4 the Westside,” Robles never forgets where he and the ministry came from. “Last Chance Ministries was built from the ground up by former prostitutes and addicts. It’s a blessing to see how they have transformed to become leaders in this community,” Robles said. His humility may be the key to God’s favor.
Shining a bright light over life’s darkest moments and overcoming challenges to become even stronger has been the message he has shared with thousands—from financial challenges and lawlessness to a pandemic and life-changing tragedy. Most importantly, many, many of these people have received Christ.
"We want people to know that somebody cares no matter what is tearing them down. We want them to know about Jesus. After all, His is the name above all names.”
Last Chance Ministries
404 Brady Boulevard, San Antonio, Texas, 78207
Be A Light
Give. Provide financial assistance for the Thanksgiving and Christmas outreach events. Visit the website to give. Provide. Prepare side dishes for the LCM Thanksgiving outreach. You or a group can adopt a family or two to prepare all the sides for their meal. For the Christmas outreach, LCM needs toys, clothing and shoes for children ages 1 - 18. Volunteer. Both outreach events in need of volunteers. Pray. Ask for willing hearts to present their skills and gifts to LCM in the areas they need it most. Pray that the Holy Spirit will touch hearts and hundreds will come to Christ! Visit. Plan to attend an upcoming Sunday service. Check the website for details and how to get involved.