Veronica Torres McLane, Servant Partners' New Board Member, shares how God shaped her urban ministry in educational systems
Verónica Torres McLane, known affectionately to many as Vero, is the newest member of the Servant Partners Board of Directors! Originally from Cancún, Mexico, Vero immigrated to the U.S. at age 14 and grew up in urban marginalized neighborhoods around Los Angeles. After graduating from Occidental College in 1996, she and her husband Scott moved to Boyle Heights to minister to students at public universities for 15 years—Scott as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship staff and Vero as a volunteer.
“Initially I didn’t plan to return to the ‘hood’, because the ‘right response’ would be to get your family out of there, I thought,” Vero said. But she and Scott responded to where God was leading them. “One night, during the first months of living in Boyle Heights, we were woken up by police banging on the door asking if we’d heard gunshots, and we could see a man in the street who was shot and being treated by paramedics. That was our welcome! We were asking God, we just moved here—what’s going on?”
But throughout Vero and Scott’s time and ministry in Boyle Heights, God immeasurably blessed their lives and ministry as they built trusting relationships with neighbors. Responding to a need for bilingual teachers in their Los Angeles school district, Vero began a career as an elementary school teacher. She’s now worked for 25 years as a professional educator, specializing in dual immersion education—and is as in love with teaching as ever. She recalls working with immigrant children who spoke only Spanish, and how she exercised Godly influence in their lives.
One year, Vero’s students were fighting a lot and seemed angry. She was having difficulty helping them change their behavior, so she decided to facilitate an exercise on forgiveness for themselves and others. She started by
handing them pieces of paper. “Close your eyes and imagine what it is that’s making you angry, sad, or afraid,” she said. “It might be something somebody did or you did, or something you are feeling about yourself or others. Write it on this piece of paper. No one’s going to read it. We all have ugly things inside of us ” She continued, “Now that these ugly feelings are on the paper, I want you to imagine water rushing over you and cleaning you, washing away all those ugly feelings.”
Vero wanted her children to understand the value of acknowledging and repenting of sin. Suddenly, some students began crumbling and ripping up the paper. “Teacher, I just feel like I’m flying!” one said.
“I just feel like I'm taking a shower!” another exclaimed. Vero recognized that the Holy Spirit was working in them.
Another student said, “I feel like I’m at church, because when I pray at church, it feels like this.” Students began to ask Vero about church and God, opening doors of opportunity to share the love of Jesus with them and their families.
“In urban ministry, I can use my own experiences to connect and respond to people,” Vero said. “There is a great need and so many difficult issues, that it forces me to trust in Jesus beyond my understanding and remember that He is in control. It continues to amaze me to see His hand at work in my community and in my own life.”
There is a great need and so many difficult issues [in urban ministry], that it forces me to trust in Jesus beyond my understanding and remember that He is in control.
Vero and Scott are an adoptive family—they have three daughters: Emmy, Kimmy, and Isabel, their beloved daughter with severe special needs who went to be with the Lord in 2019 at age 14. In the last ten years, Vero has taken a larger ministry role at her church to translate during church services, preach, and lead a discipleship course. Through this role, she connected more closely with Servant Partners, where she joined as a board member in January 2022. Vero also now works at Loyola Marymount University in their Center for Equity for English Learners, where she advocates in educational settings for equity for marginalized students.
“I’ve been learning a lot about the other side of education,” she said. “I knew about on-the-ground advocacy, but now I have a birds-eye view for larger advocacy. I’m asking: what does it mean to bring change in education, and who are the people bringing change? In Servant Partners, it’s been encouraging to learn how God is moving through systems. I’ve realized my ministry is not just on the ground, but there are new ways of God using what I’m learning and bringing.”
Please pray for Vero as she joins the Servant Partners Board of Directors.