Jairo became an elder of La Iglesia Evangélica de Gracia (the Evangelical Church of Grace) in February of 2010. He and his co-pastor, David Barceló, share the ministry responsibilities of this growing church. In addition, there are several needy churches and small groups of believers scattered throughout the region that Jairo is actively working to strengthen and train.
Testimony of Conversion
I was born in 1959 in the city of Bogotá, Colombia, the seventh among eight children – three boys and five girls. My parents came from a very poor rural area to the capital in search of better opportunities. My father worked on the construction of train tracks, and my mother was a housewife. When they arrived in the capital, their lives were very uncertain, and they suffered from great poverty. It was then that my father began to attend a moderate Pentecostal church that met in a place near his house. The pastor began to visit and teach the Bible to my father, and he was converted to the Lord. My mother did not want anything to do with my father’s “religion” until she saw changes in his character — he stopped drinking and treated her better. In this way, my parents arrived at the feet of Christ.
When I was born, my parents already had a long history in the Christian life. We attended a large church, and my mother was a Sunday school teacher. My father was always very busy in his work, and my mother was busy at home or at church — the choir (she had a very good singing voice) and the Sunday school. I do not remember ever hearing my father preach, but he did teach the Bible in the church. At home, our devotional life was poor. I remember my father praying “in tongues,” and that was a bit strange because he was always repeating the same words that I could not understand. It even scared me.
At that time, my father also spent a lot of time in church planting. He was not a pastor but had a strategy to reach different neighborhoods by showing Christian films and attracting many people. He did this several weeks until the group was large enough that another brother could come to take over the church. As a child, along with my sister, we used to sing special songs during worship services.
In short, I can say that I grew up in a very active ‘church’ environment, but I did not have much access to my parents. I only remember two occasions when my father had some meaningful gospel conversation with me, and in both cases, it was during my adolescence. In one of his dreams, he said that I looked like I was lost, and in the another, he saw me in danger of meeting with unbelieving friends. My mother was very hard with us. She was the one who led the discipline at home.
So, I grew up attending churches, but not understanding the gospel. When I finished high school, I still attended church but mostly because of custom and because I did not want to contradict my parents. My interest changed when I met the woman who is now my wife (Ruth), who was attending another church. My parents did not insist that I continue to accompany them to their church, so I decided to go with them on Sundays and go to Ruth’s church on Saturdays.
When it came time to start my university studies, I decided to go to another city far away. During my first vacation, I came home and started a dating relationship with Ruth. After six months, I wanted to be baptized, and so, I asked the pastor to baptize me. I lived as if in two waters. One in which I wanted to be faithful to the Lord and the other that made me depart from Him. There was always a very strong internal struggle. I knew that I offended the Lord because I lived like my roommates, but then I would try to appease Him by doing good works when I was in my parents’ house and in the church.
It was on one of my trips home from the university when the Spirit of the Lord put a true conviction of sin in my heart. I remember that one night when I understood my spiritual misery and cried bitterly before the Lord. However, it was not until later that I realized that the Lord had forgiven me. It was two different moments, but in the end, it was the very work of God bringing conviction of my need for Him. I still did not understand all the truths of the gospel, but I knew that I was God’s child and that He had forgiven me!
A year after finishing my engineering studies, I married Ruth and decided to live in the capital. We joined another young church and began to develop ministries among teenagers. Thus, from the beginning of our married life, we have always been linked to churches wherever we have lived.
In December 2000, we moved to Spain with our three children in order for me to study a doctorate. It was not until then that, by the providence of the Lord, we began to grow in our understanding of biblical doctrine. I thank God for Pastor David Barceló who took the time to teach us. It was a special time in which I was freed from a great weight of not being clear about what God’s grace meant. I began to spend many hours with my children, and to learn personally the biblical doctrines by reading from the Word. It was a vital time of growth in my faith and family. It was also then that I began to realize that the Lord had been leading me to serve Him in ministry since the beginning. In time, I began to participate in leadership meetings, to lead the prayer group, and to preach sporadically. Over time, the church and Pastor David saw me as a potential co-elder. After prayer and a long process of verification to see that I met the biblical requirements of an elder (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), I was called by the church. In February of 2010, I was ordained as a pastor of the Evangelical Church of Grace. Today I can say that I love the Lord, that I want to continue serving Him, and that I long to be an instrument in His hands. All of this is in response to His immense mercy that He has shown me.