Recently I had the privilege to talk to Derik Torres, who is the Worship Leader for Chase Oaks En Español. You may know him for his incredible vocal talent. In the short time that he and his wife April have been a part of Chase Oaks, they are making a tremendous impact in our community. From April serving in the MOMS group to Derik lending his vocal talent to the worship teams across several campuses, the story of how Derik and his family came to find Chase Oaks and meaningful connection here is sure to encourage you, whether you’re new to Chase Oaks or a bona fide Chase Oaker.
Derik and April have been married for 14 years. They have two daughters ages 10 and 7. He’s a Certified Public Accountant by day and serves as the Worship Leader for Chase Oaks En Español on Sundays.
Keyla: Derik, you were suggested as a story idea for the Chase Oaks Blog because of the unique way you got plugged into a LifeGroup. I hear that you were reluctant about the idea. But before we get to that, tell me about your upbringing and journey with God.
Derik: I was born in the Bronx.
Keyla: The “Boogie-Down” Bronx, as it is referred to in New York?
Derik: Yes, in a Protestant family, and I was baptized at 7 years old.
Keyla: I too grew up in a very strict Protestant church—women couldn’t wear pants or make-up….completely different from Chase Oaks Church’s “Come As You Are” environment.
Derik: Exactly. I moved with my family to Angleton, Texas, when I was three months old. By the age of eight, we left Texas for Puerto Rico to be closer to family. I stayed there until I graduated high school then returned to the States to attend college. During my college years, church was on the back burner. I bounced around from University of North Carolina at Greensborough, to East Texas Baptist University, where I met my wife April, and finally to Lamar University in Beaumont, where I transferred to be with April. After I graduated, April and I were married and moved to Dallas.
Keyla: How did you come to learn about Chase Oaks Church?
Derik: Once we were married, we attended a church in Addison every so often. But when we bought our home in Allen and had our first child, we realized that it was important to go to church regularly. Although April volunteered in their children’s ministry, she never felt like she was part of the church. Even attending the get-togethers felt awkward. One Sunday we decided to visit other churches. Chase Oaks Church was the second church we visited, and we felt the energy—it was a welcoming place!
Keyla: That’s great to hear! So tell us about how you guys went from attending to becoming more involved.
Derik: April joined the MOMS group and was in it for two years. She was asked to share her testimony with the group at the end of the second year. She also became a table leader. As she began to get to know people in the group, they recommended a LifeGroup.
Keyla: But here is where the story becomes interesting. From what I heard, you didn’t have a good feeling about joining a LifeGroup.
Derik: The challenge for me was that they met on Saturdays. So, being a dude, I’m not going to give up Saturdays to “kumbaya” with a bunch of Christians. In addition, I was sure that they would think I was the “heathen” of the group because I was the lead singer in a cover band that performed at local bars. But at the same time, I knew that it was the right time for me to begin getting involved.
Keyla: So as long as they didn’t know about your cover band, everything was fine with the small group situation, until…
Derik: April “ratted” me out about the band. To my utter surprise, everyone in the group thought it was cool and loved it! They even surprised me at one of my gigs. They all got babysitters for the kids so they could come see me perform. That’s how close we became. In fact, I just facilitated a series on apologetics. It’s great to have people to talk to about anything, and you know that they want what’s best for you and your family. Now, I look forward to LifeGroup and our lives revolve around our meetings.
Keyla: Sounds like your experience in the LifeGroup was completely different than what you expected. So how did you become involved with the Worship Team at Chase Oaks?
Derik: April began to encourage me to use my gift of singing for God. Soon after that conversation, we came across one of the Legacy Campus musicians when we were on one of our date nights. He recommended that I audition with Tyrone. The business card sat on my desk for months. I was afraid that being in a cover band would disqualify me from being on the Worship Team. April again asked me what I was going to do with the card. I finally called to set up the appointment with Tyrone. As it turned out, we hit it off great and that is how my music career at Chase Oaks Church began.
Keyla: That is amazing!
Derik: Totally! Jeff Jones, our Senior Pastor, even asked me one day if I sang anywhere else. When I told him that I played in a cover band on Saturday nights, to my surprise, he said that was “cool.” He told me that some of the musicians on the stage did the same thing.
Keyla: So how did you become the Worship Leader for Chase Oaks En Español?
Derik: April met Sharone Zuniga, the wife of Chase Oaks En Español Campus Pastor Armando Zuniga, who was looking for a singer who sings in Spanish. April, of course, volunteered me. Armando called me and asked if I could sing and invited me to sing for one of the services. During that service, the message was “Love Limits Liberty,” or “El Amor Limita Libertades.” Armando was persistent in encouraging me to be the Worship Leader. I was reluctant to commit every Sunday so I began with two Sundays per month, which then became three, and then every Sunday. Armando kept repeating “just remember, el amor limita libertades.”
After accepting Armando’s invitation, I shared with April that I felt out of place singing at the bar. Soon after, the band fell apart, and I didn’t have to quit. The band took a sabbatical. To this day, I don’t miss it. I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I could “rock and roll” all day, but to be at church and know that my music is changing people, and it is helping them become closer to God is priceless.
Keyla: God allowed all of these “coincidences” to happen and now you are right where He wants you to be.
Derik: Exactly! He even threw me an “olive branch” by allowing me to be at a church that allows me to sing Tom Petty, Eagles, Free Bird, and Simple Man! In fact, Tyrone has been a great mentor to me. It’s like being a basketball player and having Michael Jordan as your mentor!
Keyla: I think Tyrone is going to enjoy being compared to Michael Jordan quite a bit!
Derik: My dad passed away last year. When I used to brag to him about the venues I played with the band, he wasn’t impressed. My dad would say, “One day you will be doing what you are doing on a big stage for the Lord.” I never thought he would be right. It is incredible that my dad’s words have come to pass.
Keyla: What a blessing to know that your father always knew you’d end up right where you are. What would you say to newcomers who have not found a LifeGroup, especially the men?
Derik: Think of your circle of friends. How many can you talk with about the hard issues — Christ? Family? Wife? How many of them can motivate you to be a better father, husband, Christian? I never had anyone I could talk to about those things. Here at Chase Oaks Church, I have a group of guys in my LifeGroup where I hear their stories, learn what not to do, and what to do.
LifeGroup is the first big step to giving God more time beyond the Sunday services, especially on a Saturday. It becomes a commitment. Committing to do more things came naturally.
Chase Oaks means it when they say “come as you are.” But my advice to any newcomer is to not just attend on Sundays, but take that next step to get involved! You don’t want to miss out on the joy of volunteering and getting plugged into a LifeGroup.