LV Historical Assoc
Drama Kids
Custom Construction LLC

Following God’s call leads to ’The Sound of Victory’

Following God’s call leads  to ’The Sound of Victory’
PASCALLE BIPPERT Vanessa and Lee Rios, through Emerge Ministries in La Vernia, are bringing Stephen McWhirter and “Iron Bell Music” to “The Sound of Victory” a free community event Saturday, July 15, in the La Vernia City Park.

Emerge Ministries has been operating for about 18 months in La Vernia.

But just what is this ministry, located on U.S. 87 next to Heavenly Touch Massage?

“We’re just being obedient and listening to The Lord,” said Lee Rios, who founded Emerge Ministries in La Vernia with his wife, Vanessa. “It’s just beautiful to see different denominations come together. They come here with old mindsets and we are here to present a new side of The Lord.”

“This is who you are. Emerge. Job 23:10 says ’Yet He knows the way I have taken; when He has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold.’”

They came to their present ministry in a circuitous way.

Vanessa has a hair salon, Studio H2O, in San Antonio, while Lee works at Crestway RVs near Retama Park. They have a 9-year-old daughter, Ansley, and a 16-year-old son, Brandon. They’ve been La Vernia residents for nine years.

They began their servanthood while attending River Oaks Church near Sutherland Springs for six years. Both were youth leaders, and led men’s and women’s groups. Vanessa plays guitar and sings, and their son plays drums.

The couple also operated an Internet Christian radio station with Radio Air Jesus in 2015-16, reaching listeners in 129 countries on Monday nights, ultimately ending with an audience of 3,700.

Their ministry evolved and transitioned, leaving the radio behind. “é We just began to worship and pray,” Vanessa said. “Just our family.”

Their new ministry began to emerge.

That became a little group, Lee said, including people from the church they attend, Father’s Heart Ministries formerly Oakwood Country Church off F.M. 775 just outside La Vernia.

The congregation there has grown from about eight people when the Rios family began attending, to 30 attending Sunday worship now.

“We are not a church; we are a supplement to the church,” Vanessa said. They regard their efforts to revive the church as CPR.

“We are all about community and connections,” Lee said. “That’s what the ministry is about. Emerging.”

“é We want to be a safe place for people to practice what they are learning,” Vanessa said. “é We would rather see people on Friday nights, encourage them, and have them go back to their congregations, spirit-filled.”

A recent Emerge Ministries event had representatives from nine churches. As many as 40 people have come together in their ministry room, seeking prayer and healing.

“We do the worship,” Lee said. “We do the Word. We do some prophetic ministry. We do inner healing, or wherever The Lord leads us on that.”

They also travel as guest evangelists to churches where they share God’s Word.

Both are ordained and they have a mentor, Ryan Pena, an apostolic leader at Spirit Of Life in San Antonio.

For the past year, Vanessa and Lee have been praying for La Vernia and for its schools. They prayed to reveal what has been holding La Vernia back.

Then came the revelations this spring of allegations of extreme hazing at the high school.

“What brings a community together?” Vanessa asked. “Children. Children hurting. We all knew we had to come together to help heal.”

They felt the call to provide a safe place with song and prayer for the community.

Lee heard a song by Stephen McWhirter and “Iron Bell Music” that proclaimed victory and really resonated with him. He contacted the artists through Facebook, sharing his vision.

One thing led to another, and Stephen McWhirter and “Iron Bell Music” will be part of the Emerge Ministries event, “The Sound of Victory,” July 15 in the La Vernia City Park.

According to their website, the Kentucky-based band “é is part of Iron Bell Ministries, an equipping ministry committed to restoring lives and unlocking destinies.” The band recently signed with Sony and will tour with Tobymac.

Requests for Iron Bell dates usually go through a booking agent.

“But my heart tells me to go to different churches to minister,” McWhirter told Lee.

They had no idea he had been signed by Sony.

“ é but he’s a big deal!” Lee said. “His anointing is in the healing of communities.”

Lee and Vanessa hope the July 15 event with McWhirter will bring together the entire La Vernia community to worship, rejoice, heal, observe, praise, eat, sing, and fellowship.

“The Sound of Victory” is free, and open to La Vernia and the surrounding communities.

Emerge Ministries has invited La Vernia city and school officials, local leaders, and first responders. Also attending will be Rapha God Ministries from San Antonio, and Holy Smoke BBQ.

“It’s going to be an amazing time! Steven McWhirter is so excited!” Lee said.

They have many volunteers, and invite business and community members to help with “The Sound of Victory.”

Lee and Vanessa have a feeling that this will continue every year.

“We love the Father’s love,” Vanessa said. “We love His heart. We love everything about the Father.”

For more information about the event, see “Sound of Victory” (left), or visit

’Sound of Victory’

La Vernia residents and neighboring communities are invited to attend “The Sound Of Victory,” on Saturday, July 15, in the La Vernia City Park at 221 San Antonio Road from 5-10 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The evening is intended to bring communities together in prayer for the city of La Vernia, all while enjoying live entertainment from “Iron Bell Music” and local worship artists, and barbecue and drinks from Holy Smoke BBQ. Personal prayer and church connecting will also be available.

Additionally, pastors from San Antonio and the surrounding areas will unite with local leaders in an effort to bring healing to the community by discussing issues, including bullying, hazing, depression, and more, in a unified effort to bring awareness and healing to those who have been affected or are not aware that there is help.

For more information, call Lee or Vanessa Rios at 210-872-4394 or 210-849-8533.

Triple R DC Experts
Drama Kids
Heavenly Touch Massage Therapy