Hector Villanueva

Lead Pastor

I grew up in the community of Mercedes and I love serving this area through ministry. I am married to the love of my life, Mari, and we have been married for 29 years. Together we have served in youth ministry. I was recently the Executive Pastor here at Rio Life as well as leading a church planting team. I love to fish, hunt, work-out, and I have a passion for BBQ. Mari and I have 8 dogs together. I’m an average guy that loves Jesus and people. My desire is for Rio Life to live this out where we live, work, and play.

Email: pastorhector@riolifechurch.org


Ramon Cisneros Jr

Associate Pastor

I was born and raised in Brownsville, TX.  I've been married to Gabriela for 25 years and have four sons--Timothy (24), John Mark (21), Matthew (20), Jacob (18).  I have served as a pastor with the Christian and Missionary Alliance for the past 23 years.  I'm also a special education educator.  My desire is that we, as a church, fulfill the great commandment of loving God with all of our being and help complete the great commission of making disciples who make disciples.

Email: pastor.ramon@riolifechurch.org


Arturo Garcia

Head Elder/Governing Board Secretary

I have been a member of Rio Life Community Church since 1993. Along with my role as Head Elder, I am also the Governing Board Secretary of the church and interim youth pastor. I have been married to my wife Liisa since 1994 and together we have the obligation and responsibility of raising two beautiful children. I have been an avid cyclist  for the last 33 years and I am the founder of the RGV Crank Junkies cycling team.


Ornan Friesen


I started coming to South Texas for seasonal work over ten years ago.  In 2013, my wife Alana and I purchased a home and moved to Mercedes from southern Michigan.  We have one daughter, Kristen, who just turned one.  I am deeply grateful for the relationships God has allowed me to build over the years here at RLCC and my desire is that we would all serve God faithfully in His individual call to each of us. 


Rico Gutierrez


I am from Mercedes, where I am a bank consultant by day, baker by night. I enjoy all things about food and listening to people share their life stories. My faith plays a pivotal role in my life, and I’ll be the second person to admit I'm a terrible person. I spent the last seven years pouring into and learning from the youth in our church. I’m single, love to travel, and stop by friends’ homes unexpectedly. My hope for Rio Life is to have a deeper and Spirit-led life.


Eduardo Infante


By the grace of God I proclaimed Jesus as my Lord and Savior in 1981. My wife, Nohemi, shared the gospel. Pastor Paul Marrero discipled me and helped me grow in the Lord. We raised our children, Lynda and Tom, in this church.  We are forever grateful to the brothers and sisters in the Lord that helped us raise our children in the ways of God.  We are truly a family of believers.

A lifelong educator, God used me in the public school setting. I also had the privilege of serving the Lord as a Sunday School teacher/superintendent, I also worked in Youth Ministry in the 1980s. My prayer as an elder is to shepherd, oversee, lead, and care for my brothers and sisters at Rio Life Community Church. I am here to serve. Please feel free to let me know how I can help you grow in your faith.


Abraham Martinez

Elder/Worship Pastor

I am married to Linda and we have 4 kids – Amanda, Ruben, Abigail and Isaac. I grew up in Mercedes where God used Contagious Youth Ministry to expose my brokenness and my need for Jesus, and to show me the life to the full that can only be found in Him. My hopes for Rio Life are that by the power of the Spirit we would give our lives to make the Rio Grande Valley look more like God’s Kingdom.


Jacob Santiago


I was born in Pasco, WA. My family would migrate for months at a time but the valley was always home. I grew up in this church, however I didn't fully understand how Jesus dying on the cross and being resurrected should somehow transform the way I lived my life. Through His word and other believers I began to see the Lord as a loving Father and He began to foster in me a healthy love for Him and a desire to serve Him. I met my wife, Melissa, in college at The University of North Texas and got married in 2014. We have 2 kids, Talitha and Silas. My hope for Rio Life is for our hearts’ deepest affections to grow for Jesus. For our deepest longings and passions to be re-oriented toward the kingdom and mission of our God.


Ruben Torres


My wife Linda and I have been blessed  with two  daughters, Rebeca and Elizabeth, and four granddaughters. I gave my life to Christ in a meeting of young people at my church  in 1967. Linda and I have served our Lord and Savior in different evangelistic ministries such as T.B. hospitals, nursing homes, cell groups, V.B.S. and Bible studies. My desire is for the Spanish-speaking congregation to form several visitation groups for outreach.

Roel V

Roel Villanueva


I was born, raised, and currently live in Mercedes.  I have been married to my wife Rebekah since 1998 and we have 3 children, Sarah, Ruth, and Noah. I have served in Rio Life for the last 30 years in different ministries from Sunday School teacher, Treasurer, Worship leader/director, Youth leader, Board of Elders, and LifeTalk groups among others.  My passion is serving Christ, fishing and BBQing/cooking.


Martha Castruita Alvarado


I was born in Monterrey. I have been married to my husband, Rigo, for 26 wonderful years. I enjoy camping, bike riding, and I would like to learn how to swim one day. I love to spend time with my family. I have served as the church treasurer and have also been a part of women’s and young adult life groups. My hope for Rio Life is for God to use us to reflect his love and reach out to lost people.


Melissa Santiago

Administrative Assistant

I was born in Dallas, Texas and attended college at the University of North Texas where I met my husband, Jacob. I moved to the Valley and got married in 2014 and have been a member of the Rio Life family ever since. I was previously a special education teacher until we had our daughter, Talitha and God provided me with the opportunity to work for the church. You can find me organizing in the office, leading small groups in our living room, or creating graphics for the church. I love a good cup of coffee and meaningful conversations with friends. 

Email: office@riolifechurch.org

Carmen Noriega

Children's Ministry Director

My husband and I have been married since 2006 and we are proud parents of a daughter, Aralynn, and a son, Luke. I work full-time as a secretary for a school district in this community and I am currently working on a certification in Children’s Discipleship with The Christian and Missionary Alliance. I first attended this church as part of the youth group but pulled away from the church in my young adult years. My husband and I returned to this church several years ago and felt the Lord calling us to make this our church home. Obediently, we decided to be baptized and become members of RLCC.  I have been a part of the children’s ministry for the past four years. I believe our children today are in need of biblical, relevant, and relentless teaching. It is my constant hope and prayer that our service to Christ in this ministry ignites a passion for Christ within the lives of our children.