Far away from the neon lights of Las Vegas, Pastor Victor Fuentes and his small church congregation created a wilderness retreat. There, troubled children from broken homes came to escape the life of the inner city and attend camps and weekend retreats. Many found physical, emotional, and spiritual peace they had never known before. Others came to recover from drug or alcohol addiction.
The church spent more than $700,000 to repair buildings and restore the property, and spent countless hours working to create this refuge for troubled youth. It was no ordinary piece of dry Nevada wilderness. A natural stream flowed through the 40-acre property, creating a vibrant oasis in the desert. The congregation started calling the property “a little patch of heaven.”
But U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials destroyed the property by illegally diverting the stream so that it no longer flowed through the church’s land. The government made a desert out of paradise.
Why did Fish and Wildlife officials illegally divert the water? It appears they hoped they could drive the church off the land by making it unusable. You see, the retreat is completely surrounded by the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Fish and Wildlife bureaucrats know that without water, the land is worthless. They must have believed that no one would hold them accountable for the harm they caused by diverting water from Pastor Fuentes’ church property.
But they were wrong. MSLF supporters are holding them accountable.
Your support is currently funding a fierce legal battle for the Fuentes’ congregation. We are fighting on behalf of the church in both federal and state court in order to restore what those officials stole.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service not only destroyed the fish and wildlife in our property, but also the opportunity for many more lives to be reached and transformed,” said Pastor Victor Fuentes. “We will not back down. We will not deny our kids the opportunity they deserve to be successful in life. May God help us.”
The next hearing in this case will take place in early December. MSLF intends to bring the full force of the law to bear on behalf of pastor Fuentes, the church, and the children they help and serve.