Alumni Profile (Couples Version): Mateo and Gabby Alzate
Posted by: DVULI | December 13, 2022
by Kimberlee Mitchell
► ALUMNI: Mateo Alzate (Dallas 2015) IG: @mateoalzate
► ORGANIZATION: Youth with a Mission
► CURRENT POSITION: School of Urban Leadership Coordinator & Because Justice Matters, Youth and Families Department
► ALUMNI: Gabby Alzate (SF Bay Area 2015) IG: @gabriellealzate
► ORGANIZATION: Because Justice Matters
► CURRENT POSITION: Executive Director
Mateo and Gabby Alzate’s love story began as total strangers and participants in DVULI. You’ll be inspired to learn the details of how it started and how it’s going as married urban youth workers.
You met at NC1 in Orlando. Tell us about that love connection.
Mateo: Although the connection started in NC1, we didn’t have an actual conversation until NC2. I saw her in the crowd and wanted to talk to her throughout both conferences but failed miserably because our paths wouldn’t cross. On the very last night in Holland at NC2, I decided to “shoot my shot!” I completely interrupted a conversation she was having so that I could talk to her. Months later, I discovered that Gabby was actively avoiding me at NC2.
Gabby: At NC2, I noticed a cute boy trying to talk to me all week, but I avoided him because I didn’t want to be tempted to leave San Francisco. But the last night, he barged into one of my conversations and announced, “YWAM?” (YWAM San Francisco is the organization I worked for). I was a little confused but responded, “Yes?” And then, he told me in the first two minutes how he had worked with YWAM in San Francisco, how it changed his life, and how he had been praying to go back to San Francisco for seven years. He had my attention at that point!
What did you discover you had in common?
Mateo: From the first night we talked, it was obvious that we both shared a passion for youth ministry and a passion for learning, but most importantly, we were both called to the same place and the same neighborhood.
Gabby: I was shocked at how similarly ministry-minded we were and had similar values. During our first conversation, he would off-handedly mention something about himself that I was praying for in a future partner. After about three hours of talking, I texted one of my best friends that I was pretty sure I had just talked to my future husband! And here we are almost seven years later.
How do you do ministry together?
Mateo: Since we’ve been married, we’ve hosted youth groups and parties at our home. We serve the same kids and families in our neighborhood together.
Gabby: As soon as Mateo moved to San Francisco, we were involved together in ministry. During the pandemic, we started Zoom Bible studies with two other DVULI alumni, and now we host youth groups in our home. We work together with many of our community partners to serve the youth and families in the Tenderloin. We also have launched a School of Urban Leadership (again, with another DVULI graduate) and are investing in the next generation of youth leaders.
What is your approach to youth ministry now?
Mateo: Where to begin? During our engagement season, we came up with our family values and have intentionally chosen to stick to those values. One of them we learned in DVULI—do ministry from a place of understanding the needs of your community. We also do ministry from some of the foundational values of Christian Community Development.
Gabby: We identified four family values: Christ-centeredness, rootedness, hospitality, and celebration. In our personal family ministry, these guide how we live our day-to-day lives and interactions with our youth. We want our home to be a place where kids and their families feel welcomed, experience the presence of God, know that we’re not going anywhere and that they are loved and celebrated. These values really guide everything we do in youth ministry (and any other ministry as well!).
What did becoming one look like for you both?
Mateo: I would say that it was pretty easy from the beginning. From the night we met, it was easy to see how aligned our values and ministry paths were.
Gabby: There were a couple of bumps as we learned to live together with our quirks in our 250-square-foot apartment with no door to shut, but we made it work!
Describe how you each fulfill your individual missions.
Mateo: Although we work together a lot and aim for the same mission, we bring different things to the table. For example, we both serve Latinx kids and their families, and I share the same culture and speak the same language. I bring that connection to every part of our ministry. My passion for our neighborhood and what God is doing in it comes out in everything I do. It doesn’t matter if it’s meeting kids one-on-one, helping lead youth group, equipping staff and students with tools to better serve the community, or sitting in meetings to advocate for our community. I really love the kids and our community and want to show the love of Christ in every word and action.
Gabby: As the new Executive Director of Because Justice Matters, my daily responsibilities in the way I live out mission are varied. Although many of my days are filled with meetings with staff members, stakeholders, and fundraising efforts, I also make sure to be really connected to the community and the women, girls, and families we serve. It’s a good balance of high-level strategy and youth groups, dance classes, Bible studies, outreaches, and mentoring youth.
Why do you think God called you two together?
Mateo: Aside from the obvious fact that it’s clear we are both a gift to each other, I think God knew our hearts were willing to be rooted in our calling to the Tenderloin of San Francisco. And even though we come from completely different cultures, we flow through life and our calling so easily.
Gabby: Mateo and I complement each other well. Mateo is super pastoral and empathetic and serves with such compassion. He can be in the moment with people so wholeheartedly. Although I can be present and, in the moment, I thrive with more strategic vision and forward thinking. We balance each other in many ways. We can also point out (lovingly, most days) how we can grow individually and as partners. We also really, really enjoy each other. In ministry, there can often be intense and weighted moments, but we work to make sure we experience joy and laughter daily.
What would you say has been the greatest challenge in this relationship so far?
Mateo: I thought hard about this one. We worked hard early in our engagement and marriage to make sure we had good communication and trust with each other. So, if anything, our greatest challenge is outside our relationship. Raising support for our needs in one of the most expensive cities to live is one of them. Finding a rooted community is also difficult for us. Due to tech, San Francisco is super transient, and it’s hard to invest in friendships knowing they’ll be gone in a year or two.
Gabby: I would agree with Mateo. We heard so many people talk about how hard it is the first year of marriage or how hard it is to be in ministry with your spouse, but that just hasn’t been the case for us. Raising support within YWAM has been challenging, but we have always seen God provide.
How can your DVULI family be praying for you?
Mateo: As we raise our personal funds as urban missionaries, please pray for our finances. Our marriage is stronger than ever, but life around us has been hard. We don’t say this lightly, but this truly has been the most difficult year of our lives. Pray for resilience, peace, healing (both physical and emotional), and for encouraging vision for the future.
Gabby: Our marriage is great! We have had a pretty hard year with unforeseen challenges, but our connection to God and each other has been really sweet and full. Ministerially, pray for the youth and families we serve together to experience the presence and joy of the Lord. Pray for resources to sustain the vision God has laid on our hearts and the hearts of our community members. Personally, please pray for our development efforts, continued joy, moments of rest, health, and a renewed trust of the process.
Watch Mateo's & Gabby's Couple's Challenge Video
This article was published in the Winter 2022 issue of DVULI’s On the LEVEL print newsletter.