Jona pastors a church in Pontevedra, Spain where he lives with his wife and children. He desires the biblical gospel to go out to Spain. Read the report of his conversion and call to ministry below:
Testimony of Conversion:
I have had the privilege of growing up in a Christian family. Since I was a child, I was familiarized with the Gospel. It made all the sense to me, and most of the people around me those first years of my life were church attendees. When I was 11 years old, I went to a children’s camp, where I became a Christian. One day the camp’s director gathered all the children to tell us that one kid had received Jesus as his Savior. The director then took the opportunity to explain the Gospel to everyone there, and for the first time in my life I was aware of the consequences of my sin, and the condemnation I would face. That fear of eternal punishment led me to believe in Jesus and to repent of my sin. A few moments later, the camp’s director gathered us all again, this time to shared that I had received Jesus as my Savior.
At that time my knowledge of the Gospel was limited, but precise in the understanding of sin, eternal life, and the substitutionary death of Christ. But due to a strong Arminian theology at my church, I often felt unsure about my salvation. I struggled with my decision being sincere, and I feared that my life would prove my confession of Christ to be false. In spite of all this, I had a strong desire to serve the Lord, to serve at His church, and to be involved in ministry.
Finally, God provided an opportunity for me to get training in a little Bible College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I went there with the conviction that I knew my Bible well, but God used those four years of training to show me that I was ignorant. I had never heard before about the doctrines of grace and I really didn’t understand God’s sovereignty. I also had a wrong view of ministry. I was ready to follow man’s philosophies and ideologies about ministry, and my vision of serving the Lord was pragmatic and based on traditions. I praise God for opening my eyes. I praise Him for showing me that salvation doesn’t depend on my decision, but only in Christ’s perfect work at the cross. I praise the Lord for teaching me how His perfect life was imputed to me, and how His grace is abundant. I praise God for giving me a biblical understanding of ministry, showing me the priority of preaching, and the goal of bringing glory to Him rather than ascribing glory to men.
At the college, I also became more aware of the biblical truth that spiritual fruit is the evidence of true conversion. These great truths have given me profound joy and assurance, knowing that His salvation is manifested in our sanctification, and our understanding that Christ and His Word are sufficient for everything in our lives.
Call to Ministry:
I remember a time in my life when my mother would tell me that I was going to church “too much”. It’s kind of strange to see that in a teenager, but the thing is that I loved the church. I did not prefer to be in any other place. I loved to serve and to be involved in any activity that was offered. However, my problem was that I loved the church but not the Lord of the church. At that time, I did not understand this, mostly because of my limited knowledge of Christ’s plan for His church. However, that strong desire to serve in the church led me to seek formal training. I had the desire of becoming a pastor, but I had no idea of what it meant. I had a vision of ministry that consisted in implementing those “attractive” programs that would improve the church. I thought that, in order to be a good pastor, I had to be a good psychologist, a creative leader, and an effective communicator. God had mercy and brought me to a place where that distorted vision was destroyed with biblical teaching. I cannot thank God enough for those years when He humbled me to rely on His wisdom. There was a moment in my training when I had doubts about my calling just because I thought I had called myself, but the Lord needed to do that work of “cleaning” my mind of human wisdom and printing His wisdom in my mind and my heart.
At the end of my training, I was planning to go back to the church in Spain that I had previously attended and that had a very different view of the sufficiency of Scripture and of ecclesiology from what I had learned. Because of this, I did not know what was going to happen. However, just a few months before my graduation, my home church went through a division. I did not know what I was going to do, but my wife’s home church invited us to become members and to participate in a two-year training program with them. After those two years, my calling became evident for the elders at that church, and they decided to send me to the church where I am now serving the Lord. God has given me the desire, the training, and the confirmation of His calling to serve Him in His church through the preaching and teaching of His Word. I love the church more than ever, but now I love the Lord of the church more than the church.