Memorial service set Monday for Las Cruces pastor killed in I-10 crash – Las Cruces Sun

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LAS CRUCES A Las Cruces pastor killed this week in a tragic Interstate 10 collision with a wrong-way driver was remembered Thursday as someone who had a deep heart for people and a passion for sharing his Christian beliefs.

A memorial service has been set for Monday evening in honor of Josh Allen, the pastor at Grace Bible Church on Missouri Avenue. He was 30.

In addition, a fund has been set up to benefit Allen’s widow, Shelley, and his 9-month-old son, Josiah.

Allen’s father, the Rev. Dr. Dan Allen of Hatfield, Pa., said Josh Allen moved from the East Coast to Las Cruces about four years ago to work at the small Las Cruces church. Dan Allen had helped to found the congregation in the early 2000s.

“He loved the place; he loved the people,” Dan Allen said. “The people dearly loved him.”

Dan Allen said since the crash, he’s received a flood of emails and Facebook messages from Las Crucens and the community of Liberty University in Virginia, a Christian college from which his son graduated.

Head-on crash

Monday night, Josh Allen was on his way to pick up his twin brother from the El Paso International Airport, when his Toyota Sienna minivan was hit by a BMW X3 SUV traveling westbound on the eastbound lanes of I-10, according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and family. He died immediately. Meanwhile, the driver of the SUV, Jesus Barrera, 24, of Bayard, N.M., had a faint pulse when emergency responders arrived, but died quickly afterward.

The crash happened about three miles into Texas beyond the New Mexico state line, near Vinton.

Authorities can’t yet say why Barrera was traveling the wrong way, said Deputy Mariano Valle, spokesman for the agency. They’re also awaiting toxicology tests, which could take several weeks, to find out whether impairment was a factor.

Knack for ministry

Dan Allen said his son had a knack being a minister. And he said Josh Allen — and about a dozen of his family members who are also ministers — was motivated by a heartfelt belief. “We hope to present the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to people so that, when they die, whether through a normal means or a tragedy like this, that they will spend eternity with God in heaven,” he said.

Ethan Hester, pastoral intern at Grace Bible Church, said Josh Allen was his mentor for the past year and a half at the 50- to 60-member congregation. The two had attended Liberty University together before that.

“Josh was an awesome guy,” Hester said. “He was very committed to the church and what God had brought him here to do, which was to preach the gospel and make God famous here in Las Cruces.”

During his time in Las Cruces, Josh Allen and his wife had been active in hosting outreach programs, his father said. He also belonged to a group of pastors throughout the city, called the Evangelical Ministerial Fellowship.

Michael Cramer, youth pastor at Church Triumphant on Valley Drive, said he knew Josh Allen through the ministers’ group. He described the late pastor as a “super, super nice guy” who was well-known among churches in the community.

Cramer said Allen’s death saddened many people in his own church. A tragedy like this cuts across denominational differences, he said.

“A large number of churches in the community are going to be taking up an offering to help out Josh’s wife,” he said. “Our church is praying for them; we sent out a prayer request to all of our members.”

Donations to the family can be made via PayPal at

Memorial planned

Josh Allen’s memorial will take place at 7 p.m. Monday at First Baptist Church, 106 S. Miranda St., Las Cruces. It’s being held there to accommodate a large crowd that’s expected to attend. His family said it’s open to the public.

Cramer said a number of people from his own congregation are planning to go to the service.

In spite of the loss, Grace Bible Church, which is located at 2801 Missouri Ave. Suite 14, has taken steps to reassign Josh Allen’s duties.

And there may be some healing needed.

“As far as what the church is going to do now, we’re just trying to catch our breath and figure out what we’re going to do next,” Hester said.

Dan Allen said his son’s death is painful, but he attributed his family’s ability to cope with the tragedy to God.

“Although we mourn — and I tell you, I’ve been doing a lot of crying, we don’t mourn like those who don’t have hope,” he said.

Family members have faith, he said, that they’ll again meet Josh Allen someday in a higher plane.

“I have absolutely 100 percent, complete assurance that I will see him again,” Dan Allen said.

Diana Alba Soular may be reached at 575-541-5443.

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