Pastors of C3 Victory Church

Ada and Sam Hooker are pastors of C3 Victory Church in Victoria.

If you like rom-com movies, you couldn’t find a better story than that of Ada and Sam Hooker, co-pastors at C3 Victory Church. They knew each other as children, then each left as a young adult to find their own way in the world, and yet, somehow, both returned home to Victoria where they found each other again and made a life together.

At every step of the way was the church, and Jesus, cementing the bonds of their friendship and love.

C3 Victory Church, which is nondenominational, is celebrating 50 years in the community and was a major part of Ada and Sam’s growing-up years. Ada is 41 and Sam is 42

“We both got introduced to the church early from our parents,” Sam explained. “I actually started going there (C3 Victory Church) when I was like 7 or 8 months old.” Ada began attending the church when she was about 10 years old.

“The church used to have a school. That’s where we met — we both went to school there, we both went to church there, and kind of grew up there,” Sam explained. After elementary school they attended and graduated from Faith Academy.

C3 Victory Church service

A big part of the church service is music performed on the front stage. A large screen projects visual images and lyrics of the songs so the congregation can join in.

In those years Sam didn’t notice Ada much, of course. As a teen he was interested in “Robocop,” “Crocodile Dundee” and “Transformers.”

Ada said she is the second oldest of six children and has always had a strong independent streak to her personality. Sam is the youngest of four children.

In 1998, Sam moved to Colorado Springs for two years to do ministry school. Ada left in 1999 for Columbus to do two years of ministry studies, as well.

Laisha and Xandyr Sanchez

Laisha and Xandyr Sanchez spend time before the service at C3 Victory Church enjoying a light breakfast at the Meet the Pastors event held each month.

Both were invited to return to Victoria by their pastor at C3 Victory, but Ada wasn’t expecting anything permanent to happen. She was biding her time trying to figure out her life.

“For me, I was looking for a bigger city. You know, I was 21 years old when I graduated ministry school. By then I was convinced, ‘Yes, I’m going to do ministry.’ But where was the question?” Ada explained while she was in school all types of ministries were introduced to her. She thought, “I could go anywhere.” During that time Sam had already returned to Victoria, being a year ahead of her in his studies.

A breakfast spread at Meet the Pastors C3 Victory Church event

In between Sunday services at the Meet the Pastors event visitors can chat with Ada and Sam Hooker and meet other members of the church while enjoying some treats.

So, there they were. Young, aspiring pastors searching for meaning and a place to call home. Sam was 22, Ada 21.

They both ended up working at the church at the same time and unlike during their school years the two noticed each other “very quickly,” Ada said. Sam called it “like a whirlwind.”

“We knew — you just know,” Ada said.

Sunday service with Pastor Ada Hooker

Pastor Ada Hooker speaks to her congregation at C3 Victory Church during a Sunday service.

Sam recalled one of the most influential experiences he had was a mission trip in Bible school. The students went to Mexico and places in the U.S. that needed help. They also visited third-world nations. He said the school “wanted to provide a global perspective of the church.”

“One of the places that we ended up going was Kenya, Africa. And we were there for about five weeks. And it was a really great experience, because I got to see how the church worked there.”

Sam said they spent time in Nairobi and worked with the Maasai tribe, which, he said, “Was a really incredible experience.”

One morning after prayers, Sam said he “really felt like the Lord spoke to me, ‘Hey, I’m calling you back to Victoria, back to this church.’” He felt secure that he knew what his next step in life would be.

When he and Ada were seeing each other and getting reacquainted, he entered the relationship with a strong plan and a feeling of confidence in where he wanted to be. Ada, he knew, might not be entirely thrilled with the idea of putting down roots in Victoria. He described her as “spontaneous” and himself as “routine.” “She’s like, ‘Let’s go do this. Let’s go do that. Let’s try this,’” Sam said.

Ada admitted her “big spontaneous” personality had to consider “I’m committing to Victoria, and more than that, like this small church that we grew up in,” she said, but added, “We both have a lot of love in our hearts for this church, in the people.” She said they dated for six months, were engaged for three months to plan the wedding and got married. It’s been 20 years.

When they started out the church was downtown, then there was a time when the church shared a space with another church. The present property on Crestwood Drive was purchased around 2005. In December 2009 the couple became pastors of the new C3 Victory Church.

Ada said in a relatively small church such as theirs, the focus is to “serve where you’re needed.” She said she tends to be business-minded and is drawn to structure and organization but working in a small church that runs on volunteerism for a great many things, requires flexibility. “On a Sunday it takes about 50 people to host that service. Our kids ministry is a huge part of that because you want your kids ministry done really well. For safety, for security, and for what kids are learning,” Ada said.

Being a family-friendly church is important to Ada and Sam, as they recognize the enormous impact the church had on their own years growing up. Services are held in a large room with a professional level audio and video system that displays the words of Christian songs. The congregation moves about freely if they need to, often standing, raising their hands and singing along. The service is very informal, yet personal and emotional.

The Hookers are strong believers in the importance of community service and try to identify the talents available within their congregation.

“The focus of our church — we call it missions at home,” said Ada, explaining that they want to make use of the Crestwood property as much as possible, and not just on Sunday. Ada said, “There have been so many different outreaches, there were times when we had a food pantry running five days a week … it was just the outreach pastor we had at that time. That was his background. He had done that sort of food distribution before, so it was easy for him.” Another time they employed a mother who was recovering from drug addiction, “with an amazing life story.” She met with people five days a week as a kind of outreach director with an open door to talk to anybody who needed help.”

The church is involved with helping the homeless community in Victoria in a number of ways, such as acting as an address so they can obtain the documents they need to work, and providing financial support to organizations such as Perpetual Help, House of Palms and Habitat for Humanity.

They now provide an essential need, after speaking to homeless individuals, and used some of their money to invest in showers. “We have a shower in the men’s restroom and a shower in the women’s restroom. We refinished those out a year and a half ago,” Ada said. “And the next step is a washer and dryer unit.”

Ada said the best description of their faith mission at C3 Victory Church is “come as you are, but don’t expect to stay the same.”

“Here’s the thing,” said Ada, “we wouldn’t come to Christ, if we wanted to stay the same person.”

Sam added, “the message of the gospel is the message of transformation. So, come as you are, but don’t let your expectation be, ‘I’m not changing, right? I’m not letting go of stuff.’ Because to grow, that’s what all of us have to do.”

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Catherine Kohn is features editor of The Victoria Advocate. A longtime journalist, she has been a features editor in Florida and editor of a small newspaper in South Carolina.

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Catherine Kohn is features editor of The Victoria Advocate. A longtime journalist, she was a features editor in Florida and editor of a small newspaper in South Carolina. She loves theater, art, travel and meeting people from all walks of life.

(1) comment

Glenn Wilson

Good for them and a very interesting, upbeat story.

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