After serving for several years as a pastor in his hometown in the mountains of Peru, Carlos is now working as a church planter on the outskirts of Paita, a port city on the northern coast of Peru.
Testimony of Conversion
By the grace of God, I had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home where the seed of the Word of God was sewn from a very early age. When I was fourteen, after hearing my father teach the Gospel for many years as a pastor, I came to the knowledge of the truth and was brought to repentance. From the time of my conversion, my father discipled me and helped me become equipped in the Word, and I was later baptized. It was obvious that the Lord was working in my life. I was fearful of sinning or doing anything that was not in obedience to the Lord, and unlike before, I began to obey my parents. The Lord gave me a love for sharing the Gospel with my lost friends at school.
This stage of my life lasted until I was a young man, but I was greatly influenced by the fact that there were very few young men at my church, and the friends I had at school were not believers. I was eventually pulled away by my unbelieving friends, and I fell into many of the sins that they were living in. When I had finished my studies in school I moved to Lima, the capital of Peru. I was very far from my parents and God and I walked as an errant man, lost in the world. However, even that stage of my life, there remained remorse for the sin in which I was living, and my conscience continually bore witness against me. While pursuing pleasure apart from God I felt terrible, yet I continued to live this way for two years.
One day my father came to visit me from the mountains, and he made a proposal to me. He asked if I would be willing to return with him to the North to begin a business together in the port city of Paita. I accepted his offer and returned. While working with him in our business, I began attending one of the only evangelical churches in the city. Almost immediately I was put in charge of the young people in the church and many people considered me a very good leader and example to follow. However, they did not know that the Christianity that I was living was fictitious and superficial. My heart and strength were devoted one hundred percent to my business, and my life was only vanity (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
Being devoted to and consumed by my business, the Lord worked in my life to discipline me. I began to have problems with my vision, and my eyes were very irritated and inflamed. After going for a checkup with the doctor, he coldly told me that I had glaucoma and that I could lose my sight at any moment. Shortly after, I had an operation on my eyes, but my despair was so great that I thought my life had no meaning, and I shut myself up in my room. Not being able to see anything because of my bandaged eyes, I fell deeper and deeper into depression and despair.
While I was still shut up in my room, an elderly sister from the church came to visit me. She counseled me and encouraged me, saying that everything that was happening to me was God’s doing because He wanted to mold me and conform me to the image of His Son. He would not allow me to continue living a mediocre life conformed to the pleasures and pursuits of this world. I received everything she said with gladness, and my heart was encouraged. As I lay in bed considering what she had said, I clearly understood the message of God and the calling of the believer, and I was reminded of the story of Hezekiah when he asked the Lord for a second chance. That night I cried out to God for another opportunity to serve Him for the rest of my life, and it was that night that the Lord called me into His service.
After this event, I recovered both physically and spiritually, and later I was invited by my brother Javier to help him in a church plant in another part of the city. I served with him in various ministries within the church but not as I had served before. Before, I served out of obligation and superficially, but now I served with a love for the Lord.
A little later I was married, but only a short time after the wedding our family fell into an economic crisis. My baby was very sick, but we did not have the money to provide her with treatment. Because of my health, I was not able to work, and the only money we had to live on was an offering given to us by the other believers. During that time God was molding my character and preparing me for the ministry.
As time passed and I had fully recovered physically, I heard that the church was struggling in Sapillica, a town in the mountains where I had been raised. The church was going through a crisis, and there was no leader to guide and teach the congregation. Right when the church was about to close its doors, the Lord gave me a burden to help and encourage the brothers and sisters there. I told my wife about the burden that was on my heart, but she was strongly opposed to the idea of returning to the mountains. At first, she wanted nothing to do with the idea of helping the church in Sapillica, and I remember her saying, “To the mountains? No!” My wife and I were praying that the Lord would give me work in Paita, but instead, I was offered a job in Sapillica. A cousin of mine had mines in the mountains, and he offered me the opportunity to oversee the work in one of the mines. I sensed that the Lord was leading us to move to Sapillica, and so I left immediately to travel to Sapillica, and my wife and daughter followed shortly after.
Initially, when we left, it was with the idea that I would carry out this job overseeing the mine, and when the job was no longer needed we would return to Paita. One of the first things I did when I arrived in Sapillica was to speak with the owners of the mine to request that they give me Sundays off to be able to help the church. Whenever possible I devoted myself to the church and the brothers and sisters began to meet again regularly. Eventually, the church became much stronger and the work in the mines had run out. My wife and I were ready to return to Paita, but the church asked me to stay and continue helping them in the work of pastoring and establishing the church. I realized then that it is God who calls someone and opens the doors to serve. He is the one who had brought about all of the events that led us to Sapillica and to this church.
Though the conditions in the mountains are hard, and it is often very difficult for my wife and children, by the grace of God we were able to continue in the work of the ministry there for several years. We had to give up many things to live and minister in Sapillica, but we did not consider any of it a sacrifice because we know that our promise is in Heaven.
While we were working in the church, it experienced growth and became stronger. At first, there was a lot of compromise among the members with the customs common to this region of Peru and much of what the church was doing was not biblical. In God’s mercy, the church matured in this respect and began seeking to do all things according to His will.
My ministry involved pastoring the church in this town as well as evangelizing from house to house and traveling to surrounding villages to preach the Gospel. Almost every evening I visited families’ homes where I was able to teach the Scriptures, not only with the members of our church but also with their unbelieving family members.
Recently, my family and I moved back to Paita where I am now planting a church in a new community in the city. I ask your prayers for my family and for the ministry the Lord has given me, that we would be able to continue carrying forth the message of Christ with faithfulness.