Testimony of Conversion
On Wednesday, March 30, 2011, at the age of 22, I saw the light of the Savior. That night I accompanied my mother to a Pentecostal church where she had been attending for years, and that day God opened my heart, I could feel the wonderful love of God upon me and the weight of my sins. On that occasion there was a guest preacher in that church and he expounded on Jeremiah 18:1-10 (about the potter and the clay). I can’t remember everything the preacher said on that occasion, but my mind focused on my lack of love for God who gave me life, and the judgment on the disobedient. As I thought about this my heart was grieved to recognize that I was being ungrateful and rebellious against God. He had shown me many mercies, but I lived as if I were not an ungrateful sinner. Never in my life had I experienced such real pain and sorrow for sin. Although I knew I was a sinner, I had never considered the gravity of sin as I did at that moment. This was something truly extraordinary, because from that moment on my life changed completely. Since my childhood I had been a Catholic and was simply a religious man who thought he knew God, but who practiced sin. I felt good professing my Catholic faith, although I rarely attended mass and, when I went, what I did was to be at the doors of the temple with my friends, and I didn’t even pay attention to anything, but since I was instructed that Catholicism was the true religion, then I was very calm; although my life was really sunk in sin. In my adolescence I used to steal from my father when I was supposed to go to work to help him, but in my youth my life got worse and worse. I attended bars and practiced fornication, I was terribly lustful. I also used to watch pornography. I consumed alcoholic beverages and I was also a gambler in illegal cockfights. My life, unbeknownst to me at the time, was terribly immoral, although outwardly it might appear, even to other people, that everything was going well. My character was very strong. At home I was like a hermit, I spent my time locked up in my room and without much contact with my family, what I did not know was that I lived with a lot of bitterness and resentment, especially towards my father; but all this I could understand when God changed my heart.
I thank God that none of this in my life would have changed without God’s sovereign grace. As the Bible explains, I never wanted to seek God. But the love of the Lord was upon me and His grace was extended to me, and from that day on my life was not the same, my thoughts were new, I was truly filled with happiness and there was peace in my heart, I had no need to seek the pleasures that I previously thought satisfied me, and my heart and soul found refuge in God and His Word, in which I purposed to grow to seek to obey God in everything before anything or anyone else. I do not forget that, when my mother gave me my first Bible a few days after my conversion, the first thought that came to my mind was: This book, and only this book, is going to be my rule to live by. I knew almost nothing of the biblical teaching, but at that time I was sure that I should be guided by it, and not by what men said. In fact, a few days after my conversion they were going to perform baptisms, and the pastor of that church told me to go and be baptized, but I said no. I did not want to go without knowing what men said. I didn’t want to go without knowing what that meant, but a month later, when they were doing baptisms again, and already knowing what the Bible taught about it, I went very gladly to be baptized.
As I was taking my first steps in the Christian walk I was erroneously taught in
I began to see many biblical teachings, but as I increased my Bible study I began to see the doctrinal errors that were manifested in the congregation, so I expressed my doubts to the youth pastor, but I never received convincing answers. About 2 years later, I was considered to be a youth leader of a group where I had the responsibility to give small teachings, however, by that time was when the questions I had about the doctrines taught in that church were the strongest, because I had begun to listen to Spurgeon’s sermons dubbed into Spanish, which have been a great blessing to me. That inspired me even more to try to go deeper into the Scriptures, and thus my love for God increased, however, at the same time that this was happening, my differences in doctrine also increased, to the point that they wanted to restrict me from teaching about salvation with the young people, but I did not listen to them. I had already come to the conclusion that salvation was a sovereign work of God and that it was not conditional. I had already understood that grace is sure and that Christians should not think that it was conditional. And as I was teaching about it the youth pastor admonished me in front of the other leaders, however, in every talk I had with him I discussed salvation and tried to make him see that what was being taught there was not correct. At that time, I did not know anything about the reformed doctrine. I only remember knowing that those who believed that salvation was not lost were called Calvinists. But without knowing it, I already shared a great deal of understanding of what I later found in Reformed theology.
At that time I felt very empty in that place and I did not really feel pastored. I resigned from youth leadership and, months later, I left that place, after I was summoned to a meeting with the pastors and elders, where I was accused of having a spirit of error; and that same day I informed them that I would no longer attend. I did not know which church to go to. I only knew that Spurgeon was a Baptist and I wanted to go to a church where he taught as he did; but I did not even know that there were different Baptist churches. When I started looking for Baptist churches in the country, the church that caught my attention the most was the Lakes Baptist Church in Heredia, I saw on their page what they believed, and I agreed with the points they held, but it was very far from my location; however, I told my wife that I was going to congregate there, I could not go every Sunday because I did not have the resources to travel by bus every week, but I was willing to go at least every 15 days. But then, through a friend, I found out that there was a church in Barranca that apparently had a sound doctrine, so I decided to visit the church with him (he also left the same day as me from the Pentecostal church). To my surprise, the church was a work being done by the Church of the Lakes. And from the first day I went, I felt very grateful to the Lord after listening to the teaching. And from that time (August 2014) I knew that this would be my new home and family. Subsequently, in 2018, the Lord would grant me the privilege of serving as pastor, and so it has been until today.
Call to Ministry
Since the Lord saved me, and as I grew in the knowledge of God, I desired to serve Him. The more I learned about the Bible the more I wanted to share it with others. I did this at home, with co- workers and, of course, also with the young people in the church I attended. Being in the Pentecostal church I longed to be a pastor. I even believed that was part of what God had for me. But when the Lord took me out of that congregation and brought me to the Grace Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, when I looked at how little I still knew about many things, I thought that I did not have the abilities to be a pastor. I remember that Pastor Adrian would ask me what I thought I could serve in, what gifts I thought I had, and I would answer that my longing had always been to minister the Word of God, but that I did not think I was capable. However, my attitude remained the same, always trying to grow in biblical understanding. And since I was excited to talk about the Bible, I would take advantage of every occasion with the pastor and the brethren to share about it. I came to the IGSJ in August 2014, and by February 2015 I was received into membership. That same year, Pastor Adrian allowed me to share in a home Bible study meeting. The pastor was fine with me continuing to serve, and so I did. Later that year I was allowed to share in some Sunday schools at the church. And some time later I was also able to share some sermons. It was about 2 years in which I shared the Word of God in the church once a month or sometimes every 15 days. As that time passed my longing to be a pastor was greater, although I still had feelings of inadequacy. However, as I talked with brethren, I could tell that my service was profitable to them. By the year 2017 I was clear that I wanted to serve the Lord, there was nothing else in this world that I longed to do more. And this was also confirmed to me by a book I read by Spurgeon called Discourses to my Students, when I read what he spoke on the subject of the call to the ministry it was a great encouragement to me. Then, when Pastor Adrian asked me if I had a desire to be a pastor and if I wanted to be evaluated by the church, my answer was yes. This evaluation process was extensive, and also Pastor Adrian had the collaboration of the pastors of the Lakes church to examine the candidates. By the grace of God the local church recognized me as a qualified brother to be called to the pastoral ministry, and I was ordained to the ministry on July 1, 2018.