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‘We have restoration’

alfonso robles, tim bechtle, victory church, casa de restauracion palabra de vida
Pastor Alfonso Robles and Pastor Tim Bechtle stand in the main sanctuary of what is now Casa De Restauracion Palabra De Vida. The congregation has been meeting at the former Victory Church for eight years, starting in a small room at the back of the building. Staff photo by Joni Hubrid
New congregation buys Victory Church building
Joni Hubred, News Editor

Call it “a match made in heaven.”

Eight years ago, pastor Alfonso Robles felt led by God to contact Victory Church pastor Tim Bachtle, asking whether he could rent space in the back of the church for his small Casa De Restauracion Palabra De Vida (translated, “Restoration House Word of Life”) congregation.

“He felt the Lord directed him to this building to talk to me,” said Bachtle, who has pastored the Victory congregation with his wife, Kim, for 20 years. “He told me he didn’t have many people, but he felt the Lord was directing him.”

After praying about it, Bechtle decided to rent the space.

“We watched two people show up in the back room, and two years later, that back room is full with 50 people or so,” he said.

As Casa De Restauracion Palabra De Vida’s growth continued, Bechtle said, “the Lord started impressing on my heart to open up the main sanctuary.” At the same time, Robles’ congregation had been praying that the main sanctuary would open up to them.

“Things went pretty fast after that,” Bechtle said.

It wasn’t long before Casa De Restauracion Palabra De Vida began outgrowing the larger space as well. Today, about 120 people attend services.

“People started coming from other states, other cities, other countries,” Robles said. “They’re moving to Owatonna not because of jobs, but because of this church… We have people driving three hours every weekend to go to church. They say they like what they feel in this ministry.”

“God’s drawing them,” Kim Bechtle said.

Robles spoke to one man who was visiting in the area from Trinidad and didn’t really want to go to church but ended up attending a service.

“That was seven years ago. He’s still here,” Robles said.

An Owatonna resident for 10 years, Robles came from the Dominican Republic, where he was a youth ministry leader. He was called to ministry, he said, as a 19-year-old college student. He believed a prophecy, “God said I will open for you a nation,” but “at that time, I didn’t have a passport.”

While Robles didn’t come to the U.S. to be a pastor, he soon saw there were few Spanish-speaking churches in the area. Going into ministry may not have been his plan, he said, but “God already had a plan for me.”

Ministry wasn’t in Bechtle’s plans either; he started out in the business world and became a pastor at age 42. After two decades at Victory, he said, the excitement and activity of having Casa De Restauracion Palabra De Vida was something he’d wanted to see for a long time.

“I haven’t seen it like I’ve seen it in this Spanish church,” he said, “so I decided to get out of the way. I decided to give them the church building and focus on outreach outside the church.”

That’s not a new venture for Bechtle, who did mission work in 16 countries before settling at Victory Church.

“It was really still burning in me,” he said. “God is really stirring me to go outside the local church. I was waiting for a pastor, and I don’t have to look any further.”

The building sale was finalized last month, and Victory’s last worship service was held on the last Sunday in May. Bechtle will occasionally preach for Casa De Restauracion Palabra De Vida services.

Robles said future plans call for an open house, but the new church will offer a children’s ministry program on June 22 that is open to the community. And of course, everyone is welcome to attend services.

“In this place, we have restoration,” Robles said. “We see many marriages restored… I’ve seen people with divorce papers in hand, and God has restored the family. God is present, it’s nothing of me.”

“There is so much joy and love and peace in the people,” Bechtle added. “They allow God’s presence. There’s really good music, really good preaching… If someone’s looking for a family, that’s what they’ll find here.”

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