Article Written by: Tiffany Anderson
Photography by Ruben Gomez
When talking about accomplishments and bettering oneself, Pastor Manuel Mendoza is an example of this and an inspiration to many. A husband for twenty-one years and a dad to three daughters, he grew up in Phoenix and came to Greenville for schooling.
“I have multiple degrees from Bob Jones, actually! My Undergraduate degree is Bible and History, Graduate degree is in Bible and Theology, and my postgraduate degree is Advanced Theology,” he mentioned.
His work has varied over the years going from a dish-washer, to working at the Greenville News, and now he’s been with UPS for the last fifteen years. When he isn’t working, he’s helping people around him, “I do a lot at Morningside Baptist Church. Whether the Spanish-speaking families need translation and interpreting help or just getting their kids to school, I’m able to be a resource.”
For Manuel, celebrating his Mexican heritage and culture happens every day at home with his children. He instilled in them a love for family who welcomes all people with service and kindness. Together with his children and wife, he has a strong relationship with his grandparents who share family stories and traditions while reflecting on their history. “I love sharing my heritage with my family. And my wife has been so incredibly gracious to me. She’s learned so many Mexican recipes even though she’s from Palestine! I appreciate all she does.”
And their celebrations don’t just stay in the family! Manuel loves sharing his culture and traditions with the people in his church family, “We have many people with different backgrounds, but every other Sunday we invite 30 or more people to the house. And usually, we hang out, talk, hear Spanish and culture, and share a culture.”
Being Hispanic is very much intertwined with his identity as he says “el que persevera alcanza (he who perseveres achieves). I come from a place of poverty and hopelessness (one parent didn’t get past the 10th grade, the other didn’t go beyond 5th grade); I’ve worked hard to get where I am, many times against the odds. I’ve had people who helped me and continue to do so along the way. I look at my background and what God has done in my life and I want to help others.” For him, being Hispanic means he has a beautiful community that is resilient and perseveres.
This Hispanic Heritage Month, Manuel is celebrating with his church by having an event called “Cena Internacional” (international dinner) which will include food from different countries and will expose others to Hispanic culture.
“As a pastor, my greatest hope is for more people to connect with God and see a great personal change like I experienced.” He wants to see more Latinos being highlighted and sharing more stories to elevate his people. He also wants to see more people get involved with organizations and serve the community, “That’s how I started thanks to the Hispanic Alliance!”
By pouring into community members around him, Manuel hopes to see a vibrant, inclusive, and loving community.