“…in the presence of our great God and our Lord Jesus Christ, the One who is destined to judge both the living and the dead by the revelation of his kingdom—I solemnly instruct you to proclaim the Word of God and stand upon it no matter what! Rise to the occasion and preach when it is convenient and when it is not. Preach in the full expression of the Holy Spirit—with wisdom and patience as you instruct and teach the people.” 1 Timothy 4:1-2 TPT
It amazes me how, when you believe you are doing what you’re supposed to, God decides to intervene just to turn your plans upside down once more abruptly. In 2017 God opened the door to serve with the Latin branch of the Vineyard Movement in the US. I walked into what, at that time, seemed God’s provision and answer to my specific prayer.
I submitted myself to the leadership of a fantastic couple who, through their example, taught me the true meaning of service, love, loyalty, and dependence on God. I walked into a congregation that not only welcomed me but took me in as a son. I love my Vineyard family. Plans were to stay there to plant and pastor a Hispanic congregation right in the middle of downtown Chicago.
As we were exploring our options to relocate me to the US with a religious visa legally, things started to stuck; the process began to complicate. I was in the US legally as a missionary, and my permission to remain in the country was about to expire. The easy thing would have been to merely stay there as an illegal alien and then hire an immigration lawyer to “fix” my legal status. I knew that if I was to relocate to Chicago, I was to do it legally. In the end, I am a minister of the true God, and He demands honesty.
I flew back to my beloved Mexico with an array of emotions, and my heart was in Chicago, was with the people I came to respect, honor, serve under, and love. I was asking God what was going on. I could not understand why I was back in Mexico. He merely whispered in my heart, “Son, your Heart was with the people and with the city of Chicago, but it was not on me.”
God was doing something. He started to stir my heart with the idea of moving forward. It soon became evident that changes in my life were required. I was afraid of the adjustments my life inevitably will experience in the months to come. Those changes involved leaving behind my comfort zone, it meant leaving the Church I grew in and served for many years, it involved leaving behind church friends, and what was particularly painful leaving the girl I like but whom, actually, never gave me a chance. The Holy Spirit was telling me, “Let go… trust me.”
I was aware of the teaching and preaching gift that is over my life as well as the call to equip a generation with Bible-based resources. Because of the Christian Bookstore that I run, I was aware of a Church of Christ Bible Institute that had just become a Christian University. I applied to become a teacher there. I was transparent in letting them know my doctrinal position on some issues and practices along with the theology I profess and believe. They were graceful enough to respect that and extend a formal invitation to teach at their University.
They welcomed me with open arms. These two weeks all I have received from them is love. I was part of their three-day-retreat before classes. The common thread that I see in each student, faculty, and staff is their firm conviction that God has called them to serve Him in the context of the local Church. These young people (19-24) are eager to learn, keen to study their Bible, and I can tell they are serious about knowing, through Scripture, the God of their Bible.
This new journey promise to be quite an exciting experience. I am thrilled and honored to be part of the training for the ministry God has in store for these kids. Only God knows what these kids will do for the Kingdom of God. I am convinced that God will take their humility, their passion, and commitment to Scripture to reveal himself to them in ways they cannot begin to comprehend now. My responsibility is not with the University, nor with my students, but with God; who in His grace has allowed me to serve Him through the proclamation of His Word. What an honor, what a joy, what a blessing it is to dig in Scripture to teach what it says. I am humbled and yet filled with responsibility at the sole knowledge that I am responsible to God for what comes out of my mouth, for what I teach, for how I present this beautiful, priceless, ageless, and touching message contained in what is God’s perfect revelation to us: Scripture. If you are reading this, I want to ask you to join me in prayer for my students and me as a teacher. Pray that I will always teach truth and love well, as I have been trained, equipped, and challenged in Seminary.