20 Years of Faithfulness: From Veterinarian to Pastor

by Allison Hurtado, staff writer
Corona International Christian Fellowship

Ed Dacio wanted to be a successful, wealthy veterinarian with his own practice. Born in the United States, when Ed was 13, his father retired from the U.S. Navy and moved the family back to the Philippines. After Ed finished college, he moved to California to pursue his dream. While working as a vet assistant in Los Angeles, Ed cared for a dog with parvovirus – which results in death in 80-90 percent of cases. After three weeks, Ed miraculously saved the dog’s life but the owner had already decided to euthanatize it. This devastated Ed, and he realized being a vet wasn’t for him.

At the time, Ed said he felt God tugging on his heart, but refused to listen. He wasn’t happy or content with his life, so instead of following God’s call, he joined the Air Force.

During his military service, he gained the rank of sergeant and learned leadership development and how to manage people. Looking back, Ed realizes God was preparing him for what was next. Once out of the Air Force, Ed went back to school to become a nurse. After completing yet another degree, he still wasn’t happy.

“At that point I really felt an even stronger call to serve God,” Ed said. “I wanted to be prepared for whatever he had for me, so I enrolled at Talbot Theological Seminary.”

There, a classmate told Ed about a pastor who was looking for someone to start a church in Corona, California, about 30 minutes away. Ed was curious, so he met with Sam Lacanienta, who at the time was the director of Church Planting for Filipino churches of Converge Southwest. Sam appointed Ed to lead the church he envisioned in Corona.

“We started the church in 1997 with only nine people,” Ed recalls. “It was six adults, three kids, and I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew God called me to start this church. At first we only worshiped in a lobby, because we were so small we didn’t need to use the sanctuary.”

Starting a church is not a light task, and due to the small beginnings of Corona International Christian Fellowship, Ed continued to work as a nurse. Through God’s faithfulness, the church celebrated 20 years on April 30. Ed says it hasn’t been easy, working full-time and, at times, also part-time as an operation room nurse has given him a different set of circumstances than most pastors. 

“People always ask me how I do it, and the truth is God gives me strength,” Ed said. “When I first became a pastor, I thought I had to leave my secular job. A lot of times there are unreasonable expectations placed on pastors that say in order to serve God they have to leave their job, but nowhere in the Bible does it say that.”

Ed admits as a bi-vocational pastor he’s felt like giving up. But no matter how hard things were, he always called Converge Southwest district executive minister Bruce Sumner to encourage him. Bruce remembers the phone calls and the tears shed.

“Sometimes all of us in ministry have breaking point moments. We have to have people to hold our arms up for us to win the battle in the moment,” Bruce said. “It’s been a privilege and an honor to be there with Ed along the way.”

Despite tough moments, Ed sees all of God’s blessings. 

“One thing I’ve learned is that God blesses perseverance and faithfulness,” Ed said. “When I finally really gave my life to the Lord and stopped running to the Air Force or my dream of being a rich vet, everything fell into place. It is amazing how God works when you finally submit your life to him.”

The church celebrated 20 years with traditional Filipino dances and plenty of food. While Bruce could not be in attendance, he can only describe Ed with one word: faithful.

“What I see in Ed is an incredible love and commitment to his wife and sons, and his call to serve Jesus and the people of his church,” Bruce said. “He is in very real ways like the apostle Paul. He is working so he isn’t a burden; he has sacrificed all these years. He is the epitome of faithfulness to me. A lot of times people get bitter, but he is a servant leader, always with a sense of faithfulness and devotion.”

Learn more about Corona International Christian Fellowship here.

    Point - September 2018

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