Westmont Magazine Designing Shirts and a Life of Ministry
Can junior high school students grasp theology? Cesar Castillejos ’03 believes they can. While studying systematic theology and biblical Greek at Bethel Seminary, he also worked with Young Life. Juggling seminary and youth ministry turned out well. “It forced me to be creative,” he says. “I had to work hard and be in tune with junior high life, but I was able to develop illustrations and tell stories to help explain what I was learning in seminary.”
Cesar majored in communication studies at Westmont, transferring in after two years at Bethel College in Minnesota. “I grew up near Bethel and decided to challenge myself. I wanted to go to an unfamiliar place where I didn’t know anyone,” he says. “I wanted to see if I could be myself in new surroundings with new people.” At Westmont he got involved with N’Step, a hip-hop dance group, and the Gospel Choir. He volunteered for local Young Life clubs, coached youth basketball and enjoyed his studies.
“My experience at Westmont showed me the importance and power of stepping out of the familiar, beyond the comfortable, and pursuing something you love to do,” Cesar says.
He completed a master of divinity degree last spring and serves as a church partner with Young Life and Hope Presbyterian Church in Richfield, Minn. “I like working with both ministries,” he says. “When kids at Young Life ask about the next gathering, I invite them to Hope. It provides a good bridge between Young Life and the church.” To reach out to Richfield youth, he volunteers as a teaching assistant at a local high school several days a week, as do members of his youth ministry leadership team.
Cesar also designs and sells T-shirts. He began this venture in college, spray-painting designs on fabric. When friends asked him about his shirts, he started making them for others. In 2003, he established One of One Clothing Company (www.1of1clothing.com) to earn money while attending seminary. The company recognizes and celebrates the uniqueness of each individual. Fifteen retail stores in the Twin Cities carry the shirts, and he sells hundreds online.
One of One has established a partnership with These Numbers Have Faces, a ministry in South Africa founded by Justin Zoradi ’04. Last year they launched a “Buy one, give one free” campaign. Each time One of One sells a shirt, they donate a shirt to someone in South Africa through These Numbers Have Faces. “I know Justin and his heart for others,” Cesar says. “I’m excited to see where this partnership takes us.”
While Cesar focuses most of his ministry on students, he also reaches out to his peers. Interested in pursuing significant conversations with those who don’t want to talk about God, he started holding a monthly gathering called The Well in a downtown Minneapolis night club two years ago. Since Tuesdays are usually slow, the owners allow him to use the facility for free. Cesar brings in musicians who perform thought-provoking songs, and he gives a brief message about Christ. “This has been a good way to build relationships with people who would never go to church,” he says.
“I’ve found things I love, and God has given me opportunities to do them,” Cesar says. “I try to see my entire life as a ministry, and I’m blessed that my church, my family and my friends encourage me to live the life set before me.”