ChristianMusicDaily.com’s New York City office is located in Queens, and that also happens to be one of four locations for The Journey Church. Christian Music Daily got to meet Johnny Juarez, the Pastor of Worship Arts for the Journey’s Brooklyn and Queens locations, and interview him to give you a glimpse into the background and life of a professional music maker working in New York City, where there are plenty of people seeking Jesus.
Q) What is your role at the church?
A) I am responsible for the creation, programming and implementation of the arts into our weekly Sunday services. I work with an awesome team of 40 people in our church to create relevant art, from music to media, and drama to dance, that glorifies God and allows people to connect in worship.
Q) Where did you come from?
A) I was born in Houston, Texas, but raised in Toronto, Canada since age 3. It was in Canada that I met my beautiful wife Vanessa, and where I began to follow Jesus in my pre-teen years. Vanessa and I were married in 1998 and have two awesome daughters– Janessa and Genesis–and our pet dog Pequeñita (female mini-pin). We have been living in New York City since Christmas 2009 and love the people of NYC!
Q) How did you get into music and get to where you are now?
A) I grew up in a Spanish-speaking church where I started singing and playing the piano at the age of 14. In 2003, God allowed me to put out my first full CD titled “Elementos,” followed by another Spanish CD, “Tu Presencia Mi Paz,” which won best Christian Rock Album at the 2006 Canadian M.A.J.A. Awards and opened up doors for me to tour full time internationally. In 2008, I released my crossover album, “Here I Go,” which gained radio airplay on stations coast to coast in Canada, and places like the U.K., and South Africa. Previous to coming to The Journey, I had been touring for four years as a traveling singer-songwriter. In my travels during 2008 I knew that God was calling me to be a Worship Pastor, but I just didn’t know where. After much prayer and reviewing all the opportunities, both Vanessa and I felt God leading us to sell our house in Buffalo and come to New York City to be a part of The Journey!
Q) What’s it like being a Worship Pastor?
A) Musically speaking, my goal is to always engage people in worship and to write original songs about relevant circumstances, emotions people are facing, and the word God is communicating to His people. My passion is meeting, relating, and memorizing new people’s names! I enjoy serving at The Journey because there is a very real and relevant culture that is reaching people outside the church. If there is one thing I love, it’s when people are real about themselves, relationships and their faith. As a follower of Jesus I see The Journey as that place where I can simply be me and freely pursue my relationship with God and people. Everyday I realize how far I am from having it all together, but at the same time I am always one step closer to understanding His grace.
Q) When were you born?
A) September 4, 1981
A) I completed the Associates in Humanities and am working on a Bachelor’s in Communications and Culture from CUNY.
Q) What are your favorite places?
A) Spain–I have done two tours there before and it is such a cool place, and Hamburg (Buffalo), NY, and Queens (New York City), NY.
Q) What’s on your iPod?
A) I don’t own an iPod but I have a whack load of CDs and MP3 including Billy Joel, John Mayer, Nickelback, Hillsongs, Jason Mraz, Bob Marley, Colbie Caillat, Michael Buble, Ruth Mixter, Rascal Flatts, Relevant Worship, The Reign Of Kindo and City And Colour.
Q) Favorite books?
A) The Bible, Ignite, Purpose Driven Life
Q) What do you TiVo?
A) LOST, Law & Order, American Idol
Q) Favorite sport teams?
A) I don’t follow any sports except the World Cup, which happens every 4 years. If I were to root for a team it would be the Toronto Maple Leafs, and any underdog team.
Q) Favorite movies?
A) Rocky (all six of them), Anchorman, Walk The Line, La Bamba, Bambi and The Lion King
Q) What do you like to do for fun?
A) Eating out. My all-time favorite foods include Korean BBQ, Chicken Wings and Pizza from Anchor Bar, The Warehouse or Duffs in Buffalo. I also love going to the movies, graphic designing and traveling.
Q) What’s something you dislike?
A) I’m 50% Guatemalan and 50% Costa Rican. Also, I walked from TORONTO, CANADA to BUFFALO, NY to raise awareness for global child poverty. It was a 100 mile walk that took me three days. That same year I lost 60 pounds.
Q) Finally, what’s your favorite scripture?
A) ”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, ”plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11
For more info, visit www.johnnyjuarez.com or find Johnny on Facebook.