I was 14 years old when my family moved from Mexico to Oklahoma in the summer of 1990. I had just finished the ninth grade, and the prospect of moving to another country was both daunting and incredibly exciting. I could not speak English, and the culture was quite different from what I had experienced previously.
The first six months in this new country were challenging but also rewarding. I had started school and made new friends, many of whom were going through the same process of learning a new language and adapting to life in a new place. By the end of the school year, I was able to speak English well enough to communicate with my teachers and peers, and that opened a whole new world in which I could begin to see the endless opportunities this country had to offer to someone like me.
Like many young people, my focus was not in the things above but in the things of this world. Even though I had been a believer since I was 10, my commitment to Jesus had always been sort of a roller coaster. Peer pressure and the desires of the flesh were great influencers in my life all throughout my teens and early 20s.
And then I got married. The Lord, in His grace and mercy, allowed me to marry my high school sweetheart. I was so happy to finally be able to share the rest of my life with the girl I had loved since we were 16. We bought our first house in a quiet little neighborhood just outside the city, and soon after, our first child was born. We were experiencing the very thing that motivated my parents to move to this country—the American Dream.
The Lord was blessing us with so much, and we were so happy. However, some uneasiness had been brewing in my heart for several years now. I wanted to start a business and make a good living for me and my family, but God had very different plans for my life. That was the source of my inner struggle.
After a time of prayer and talking with several pastors, I finally figured out what God was telling me. He was calling me to plant a church, but I felt ill-equipped. I had not been to seminary; I had never served on staff at a church; the extent of my ministry had been teaching Sunday school, leading the youth group at church, and helping our pastor teach Wednesday night Bible study. The thought of starting a new community of faith, though, in a place where there was not one was exhilarating. I did not understand all the work that planting a new church would entail, but Jesus was inviting me to partner with Him in this new adventure.
We have been serving in this ministry for the last 13 years. It has been challenging, but extremely rewarding. We have seen people give their lives to Christ, saved from addictions, marriages restored. People have been married; babies have been born; others buried, and many others have heard the Gospel. We know we have done what the Lord has called us to do in this particular place.
So, why would I tell you my life story? Simply for this reason: if God can use a boy who came to this country with no status, who could not speak the language, with no formal theological education, and no previous experience in ministry, He can use pretty much anyone who is willing to step out in faith and obey Him.
He can use you if you are willing to make a difference for Christ. Your life story, I am sure, is completely different than mine, but you can be sure that God has been preparing you for such a time as this. Whether He’s calling you to plant a church, pastor a small congregation, or lead a small group, God has been equipping you and is inviting you to join Him in this great adventure called ministry.