From committing crimes to empowering leaders


Rick Vasquez found himself on his knees on the floor of his prison cell. His life had reached an all–time low.

By middle school, he was a drug dealer. By age 17, he was in jail and was forming gangs within the prison walls.

But that day, on the floor inside his cell, without a single other presence in the room, a book fell in front of him. He felt compelled to open the book. Unbeknownst to him, opening the book, called the Bible, would come to change his life forever.

From that moment on, Vasquez's life took a different direction. Today, he is an international speaker, passionate about sharing his testimony and teaching people to be better leaders.

He shared with guests at the Texas Baptists' Hispanic Leadership Conference Nov. 7, at Dallas Baptist University, he is continuing to learn about God's grace every day.

The conference, called "En Sus Manos," was designed to empower the Hispanic Baptist community to grow in leadership development, a passion that Vasquez and other leaders of the conference had in common.

Over 600 guests attended the conference, which featured large group general sessions; small group conferences for English-speakers, Spanish-speakers, pastors and youth; and exhibits with leadership resources.

"The destiny of churches and families stands on one important thing—leadership," Vasquez said in his small group conference, which covered the topic, "Does working toward my dream bring satisfaction?"

He continued, "Only people who accept and embrace the truth are able to find fulfillment. Why? Because people who accept it but don't embrace it become apathetic, meeting every difficulty with a shrug and a sigh. They may survive, but they will not be successful."

Good leadership includes embracing that truth, persevering through trials and creating fruit.

"You have to push toward results," Vasquez said. "The Lord doesn't just require activity, He requires fruit."

Once a convict who beat up Christians in prison, Vasquez now speaks to believers on being positive influences in others' lives and on how to lead with integrity and good character.

Other leaders of the conference included Victor Rodriguez, pastor of Life Church of San Antonio; Albert Reyes, president of Buckner International; and Fabian and Andrea Ramirez, youth motivational speaker and director of Faith and Education Coalition.

The conference also featured a special appearance by Christian music artist Lilly Goodman, who brought a spirit of worship to the packed crowd.

Next year's Hispanic Leadership Conference will be held Oct. 21-22 at Dallas Baptist University.

Related articles: Thanks anyway / God’s plan for prisoners / A place to stay, a path to restoration