Pastor Juan Florez: ‘A heart of gold for every soul’

Hosanna Baptist Church Pastor Juan Florez and wife Elva Florez. SHELLIE REYNA | COURTESY PHOTO

Hosanna Baptist Church Pastor Juan Florez and wife Elva Florez. SHELLIE REYNA | COURTESY PHOTO

There is a palpable sorrow throughout the community, following the passing of Pastor Juan Florez of Hosanna Baptist Church in Poteet. The highly-respected pastor and leader, 66, died on Saturday, Jan. 16. Many learned about his loss through a post on the church’s Facebook page in which son Pastor John Florez wrote, “With heavy hearts we want to inform you that our pastor, our father and a mentor and friend to so many people, has gone home to be with Jesus.”

John continued, “We, as a family in Christ, have been through this before. And we, as a family in Christ, will overcome.”

Shellie Reyna described her father as, “A heart of gold for every soul.”

Greatest supporter

Pastor Florez’s grandson

Jake Reyna shared, “The world lost one of the most giving and dedicated people when it comes to Christ. But heaven got to welcome home one of the best disciples I know … I don’t know where to start or how to explain how much you meant to me and our family.

“There was never a dull moment with you, laughing and telling stories. You were my greatest supporter in everything I did and you never missed a game. Although it hurts that you are gone I know exactly where you are and I can’t wait to meet you there. I love you Grandpa. What an honor to be your grandson,” wrote Reyna.

Other church members were asked to share their special memories of Pastor Florez with the Pleasanton Express and what qualities they loved the most about him.

Leaving a legacy

Pastor’s grandson Xavier Florez II wrote, “Being the grandson of a man who dedicated 33 years of servanthood to a church, I’ve seen him go through many ups and downs. However, I never once did see him waver in faith or doubt God. He once told me, ‘I might not leave earthly riches to my kids, but I will leave a legacy,’ and that’s what he did. I couldn’t ask for a better example of a man of God in my life.”

A loving heart

“There are no words that can express my appreciation and love for our pastor and friend,” said Tanya Keeling. “Having the opportunity to serve with him in several ministries within the church. I was able to learn so much from him. Seeing his servant’s spirit and his loving heart.”

Keeling added that Pastor Florez was a man who so many looked up to. It was the one-on-one times with him that she thought were the most precious, like the drives to doctor’s appointments where they talked and laughed.

Faithful servant

Jolene Leon shared, “Pastor Florez was a oneof a-kind humble servant of God. He was always someone you could count on to lend his ear to.”

He would pray for others in any time of need and always put his faith in everything he did, she continued.

“I last spoke to him a week before his passing and it was always a pleasure chatting with him. I was in complete shock when I heard the news, but the faith that he had was so remarkable,” wrote Leon. “I automatically felt happiness because he was finally home. He will be deeply missed, but he leaves behind a great legacy of a faithful, obedient servant no matter the storms he faced here on earth.”

Always made me smile

Abagail Gonzales described Pastor Florez as the most humble and loving man of God. She also wrote about the positive influence he had.

Gonzales said, “There was never a dull moment with him. He always made me smile, laugh and always saw potential in me when I couldn’t see it myself. He definitely represented Jesus in every way and I will miss that so much, but I know he is not too far and we will reunite once again in heaven.”

Always saw the best

Rudy Rodriguez Jr. wrote, “One thing about Pastor Florez that always stood out to me was his gift of seeing the best in people. He didn’t see where you came from, how you looked, your criminal record or your past. He always saw the best in people. And that’s something we all need to start doing.”

Seeing potential

Pastor Pete Navarro and family said that their hearts ache with the loss of their mentor, friend, co-laborer in faith, pastor, brother in Christ and part of their family. They thanked Pastor Florez for his leadership and guidance these past two decades.

“I searched this evening through the abundance of photos of our families together. We have pressed on in the work of Christ and you were always there in many of the celebrations for my children as well. Gonna’ miss you dearly,” wrote the Navarro family. “A true measure of leadership is not the success of oneself, but in the success of those around you. Thank you for seeing the God-given potential in me, when I could not see it in myself. Rejoice my friend, until I see you in Glory!”

Biggest heart for people

Sara and Armando Griego Jr. and their children said that Pastor Florez was the very prime example of what 1 Peter 5:2-4 speaks of.

“He had the biggest heart for people. He made decisions off of what God placed in his heart. I can read the word of God and see over and over what it is to have the attitude of Christ, to show the love of Christ, and just plain out living out the example of what it is to be a true follower of Christ. That was Pastor! He was only human, but lived his life filled with the Holy Spirit that is promised to all those who believe. A person who touched thousands of lives has left a legacy larger than he knew,” wrote the Griego family.

When Pastor pops into your head, the only thing a person can think of is, what a job well done for the kingdom of God.

“What God starts He finishes, so to the church and community of Hosanna Poteet, stay faithful to the Lord and His kingdom will continue to grow,” ended the Griego family.

Forever missed

“I will forever be grateful for the humble man of God that Pastor Florez was and for the love, support and encouragement he always gave me in my walk with God,” said Michelle Reyna.

“I have never known anybody to give of themselves all the time like he did. Whether Pastor Florez was giving you a ride, supporting a sport event or just checking in, he always made sure of one of these three things … 1.) If you never heard the gospel he was going to share the gospel with you, 2.) He was going to pray for you and 3.) He will invite you to church or let you know you were missed.”

You’re home now

Celeste Canales wrote, “I will definitely miss his smile that could light a room up. I will miss being able to call him when I needed some good prayers! He will forever be in my heart.”

When Canales and her children moved to Poteet for the first time, her son Rudy introduced her and her husband to Hosanna Baptist Church. It has been their home for the past 10 years and they have received so much love and joy from the Florez family.

Wonderful memories

Hosanna Baptist Church Deacon and church member Bart Oropeza Jr. has attended the church since he was 19 years old.

“I have known Pastor

Florez for a very long time. I grew up with his children and watched him lead them in the spirit of the Lord. Pastor Florez was a true man of the Lord. Everything that he did was in honor of our Lord Jesus Christ Pastor Florez never said ‘no’ to anyone that asked him for food, shelter or a prayer,” shared Oropeza.

“I remember him always talking about the people that he would visit at retirement homes, hospitals, schools, city council meetings and so on. He never turned anyone away! I am most grateful to him for baptizing my entire family. Thank you, Pastor Juan Florez for the wonderful memories.”

Steadfast faith

Patty Cano shared she had the privilege of knowing Pastor Florez and his beautiful family since she was in the third grade.

“Through the years the world around us changed but he stood firm on the word of God, because God’s word and promises will always withstand the test of time. As a church we have seen his family in the happiest of seasons, and then seasons of unbearable grief. When he lost his children Reba and Xavier we worried but prayed that his faith would not decrease but increase and God had the victory,” wrote Patty.

She recalled how Pastor Florez led his family and church family with love, dignity, grace and a steadfast faith in diligent prayer.

A friend & father

Denise Carrasco characterized Pastor Florez as a man of integrity and a humble man.

“I never saw my pastor without a smile on his face. To look at him you would never know the pain he had endured. He had a heart of gold and would give his last dollar if someone came knocking on the church door in need of gas money, a ride to somewhere, food or what have you. He never wanted to say ‘no.’ It wasn’t in his nature. He was especially there to listen, pray with and for you and counsel you if that’s what you needed,” Carrasco wrote.

“I know firsthand what it meant for me to have my own conversations with Pastor Florez when I needed advice and prayers. I was blessed to have been able to drive him to some of his doctor appointments and it was then that I would get the advice I needed from scriptures Pastor would quote and we would talk about. I’m thankful for those times.”

Carrasco added, “Pastor wasn’t just a wonderful man of God he was a friend, a father, if you needed one, a grandfather and an amazing brother in Christ. I will miss you, Pastor.”

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