For The Madera Tribune
Pastor Samuel J. Alvarado with his wife Beatrice.
Pastor Samuel J. Alvarado was born in Shafter Mexican Colony, Calif., on April 18, 1940. His parents, who have gone to be with Lord, are Joe Guadalupe Alvarado Jr. and Jesse Nieto Alvarado Gutierrez.
Alvarado was born into a family of believers and ministers. Ministering before him was his grandfather Joe Guadalupe Alvarado Sr. and his uncle Ezequiel Tafoya Alvarado. In 1943, he moved to Earlimart, where he attended Delano High School and met his beautiful future wife Beatrice “Betty” Silva. After graduation, he entered the U.S. Navy in 1958.
On Sept. 10, 1960, Samuel and Betty were married. Together they have two sons, Samuel Jr. and Steve, and their late daughter, Jeanette Marie Garcia. They have nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
After the Navy, he worked as a barber and a machinist. From 1970-77 Pastor Samuel continued to work and attended college. He graduated from Fresno City College 1970-1972 (AA), Fresno State 1972-1974 (BA), and San Jose State 1975-1977 (Masters). Upon graduating, Alvarado worked for University of California as a migrant education farm worker specialist for the State of California. In 1979, he changed careers and obtained his construction license and began his own construction business.
In 1984, Alvarado rededicated his life to the Lord. Shortly after, he began to teach the youth and lead worship in his church. At 46 years old, he felt the Lord calling him to leave Madera, his home of 25 years, to go on the road to build churches. For 10 years he and Betty lived in their fifth-wheel travel trailer driving throughout the Central Valley and Mexico building churches and preaching. During this time Alvarado was under the umbrella of Pentecostal Holiness and later The Assembly of God.
In 1990, Samuel and Betty returned to Fresno to open a mission while continuing to build churches. On March 25, 1995, Pastor Alvarado became an ordained minister of the gospel. The following year he felt God calling him to begin his own ministry, and in 1996 Building For Christ Ministry opened its doors in Madera at a rental building on Avenue 17. After building many churches for others, the Pastor built his own church for Building For Christ Ministry on Ellis Street in 2000. Since then God has blessed him to open new ministries in Visalia and Texas.
In 2004 Alvarado helped found Asociacion De Ministros Evangelicos de Madera. He then served as president from 2004-2009. In 2005, along with Dr. Nicolas Retana, he opened Ezequiel Tafoya Alvarado Academy Charter School in Madera, which now hosts more than 600 students. In 2006, Samuel and Betty began traveling to Mexico to build and minister for God’s glory. Their first project was to start a Bible College and orphanage in El Papalote, Baja California, Mexico, under Building For Christ Ministry.
In 2014 Alvarado connected with Tim Peffly D.D.S of Madera, who was also a missionary to Mexico since 2007. After meeting, they worked on opening a dental and medical clinic to meet the needs of the people. Alvarado built the clinic and Dr. Peffly attended to patients. Every year since, Dr. Peffly has organized mission teams to volunteer at the clinic. In 2017, Alvarado and his team built and opened a rehab mission.
Samuel and Betty have continued to do God’s work by building numerous churches and ministries under Building for Christ Ministry throughout Mexico.
For the last 35 years, Pastor Alvarado has been a great man of faith, a Pastor, an Apostle, and a Kingdom Builder for Christ. Alvarado has built and remodeled more than 50 churches in the Central Valley and Mexico. Many times projects have seemed impossible, but he has been a great example of faith and shown that with God all things are possible.
Although Pastor Samuel J. Alvarado is retiring from heading the organization Building for Christ Ministry, he will continue to work for the Kingdom of God here and in Mexico until he is called home. As he retires as Senior Pastor, his son Pastor Steve Alvarado will take his place. When you ask Samuel, now age 79, if he is ready to rest, he says, “The fields are ripe and ready for harvest; I’ll rest in heaven.”