Angel Velarde, Love Life Boise Sidewalk Director, and his wife Qiana have a huge heart for helping those who are marginalized and struggling. When he learned about Love Life and the work they were doing to mobilize and unite the church in addressing the orphan and abortion crisis, he knew he was being called to serve with them. He had always desired to be the tangible hands and feet of Jesus to help vulnerable people in society. Being a voice for the unborn and women in crisis was a natural fit for him.
Several years ago, Angel and Qiana brought into their home a mom who recently came out of prison, along with her 6-month old baby. Kristen’s story, and how she became connected to Angel, is nothing short of miraculous.
Kristen had been addicted to drugs, and that led to the prison sentence. In prison, she discovered she was pregnant. She had to relinquish her child just 36 hours from birth to a foster family. She asked if she could meet the family as she handed over her child. The prison authorities complied. The family, strong Christians, were church members with Angel. Angel and his church walked alongside the foster family, and when Kristen came out of prison, they united to help her as well.
Kristen became friends with the foster family following her prison sentence. As she worked to regain custody of her baby, life was hard, but she was able to reclaim her son when he was six months old. She lived in transitional housing for a short time, but it was not a safe environment. At that point, Angel stepped in and offered for Kristen and her son to live with his family. She gratefully accepted and lived with Angel’s family for the next three years. While in their care and discipleship, she came to the Lord, overcame depression, and began discipling others. Her love for Jesus was as deep as the struggles from her past.
Angel’s burden to help abortion-minded women with the common issue of finding safe, affordable housing led to his wife and he purchasing a house in Idaho. They hoped to provide housing to moms who chose life and had no place to live. They desired it to be used as a refuge home and hopefully a meeting place for redeemed believers.
When Roe v. Wade was overturned, Idaho moved quickly to ban abortions. Angel would no longer be overseeing sidewalk ministry in his home state, but his time off the sidewalk was short-lived. Just over the border from him, in Ontario, Oregon, Planned Parenthood opened a new facility under a cloak of secrecy. This one small, conservative enclave in Oregon did not want Planned Parenthood in their community but were taken by surprise. Additionally disturbing, Oregon provided large sums of money to transport, house, and financially assist abortion-seeking women to come to Ontario from neighboring states who limited abortion.
Angel lives about 40 minutes from Ontario. He felt God tugging at him to begin a Love Life ministry in that community. After discussion with Love Life directors, Angel began conducting prayer walks at the new Ontario Planned Parenthood.
People begin to hear about the prayer walks. Critical and influential Ontario people expressed interest. They joined the prayer walks. They reached out to their friends and church members, and the committed group of believers slowly expanded.
Meanwhile, with the purchase of the Caldwell house and his dream to house pregnant women in crisis, Angel asked Kristen if she would like to live there and be a “house mother” to disciple and guide the women. She readily agreed. God had not only miraculously solved her problems with housing but was working to prepare for future women in crisis. Angel knew it would only be a matter of time before God brought a homeless woman saved from abortion to him.
While awaiting God to send that woman, the Caldwell house became a refuge for many women and families who struggled to find housing. Kristen began Bible studies and worship services in the amazing new home with the residents. Angel and his church regularly visited the house, brought dinners and supplies, and offered times of fellowship and worship.
Kristen’s felony record made finding a good job difficult. However, the Lord brought an incredible job opportunity through the connections of Angel, his church, and his new Ontario friends. Kristen is now working from home in a good job, receiving excellent training. Her whole life has been turned around because of this group of incredible people who love God and are willing to help those whom the rest of society often overlook.
The people who had been doing prayer walks for several months under Angel’s leadership in Ontario now recognized that the prayer walks were not enough. It was time to develop a sidewalk outreach team. Angel and a dedicated couple from Ontario tried to minister on the sidewalk on the days when Planned Parenthood was doing abortions. It was clear they needed more people for effective sidewalk outreach. A small core of the faithful people who were involved with the prayer walks agreed they would be willing to be on the sidewalk team. Angel conferred with Love Life, and the recent two-day sidewalk intensive was scheduled.
Love Love Sidewalk Director, Daniel Parks, accompanied by Sidewalk Training Director, Vicky Kaseorg, and Love Life Expansion Coordinator, Sara Allen, spent three days in mid-July to encourage, train, and equip the new team. It was not a large group, but their zeal and desire to serve was massive. They eagerly received the training and are now ready to take over the sidewalk for the Lord. They hope to encounter a desperate woman at the abortion center that will instead be persuaded to choose life.
The room at Caldwell house is ready and waiting. It is neat, clean, and bathed in prayer. Angel is confident that the precious child and mother that will one day enter that lovely room will be redeemed for Jesus. He proudly showed our training team the house before we headed back to Charlotte.
God’s spirit fills that house as His people await the occupants that so need His perfect provision.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.”