"Then, my life changed dramatically . . ."
was celebrated with great rejoicing: the first boy after 3 girls! A big
event in a macho society. My family invited their friends, neighbors,
and the workers from my father's coffee plantation for a great banquet.
wonderful life ended abruptly when I was five years old. The Sendero Luminoso
guerrilla group threatened my parents with kidnapping all their
children to incorporate us into their army. My parents fled with us,
leaving behind our house and all our possessions. I didn't understand
why we had to walk in silence through the mountains in the icy morning
air, why we were not permitted to cry even if we fell down in our
hurry, why we had to share one piece of bread amongst everyone, when we
had never lacked anything. Our parents gave us all the food they could
find, with nothing left for them. My mother, 8 months pregnant, got a
job in a kitchen, where she could bring us the leftovers. We lived in
fear from both the guerrillas and the army, who arrested and tortured
indiscriminately, and many were the nights we slept on the floor as
battles raged outside our door.
father, in his despair, turned to alcohol, and the violence moved into
our home. Night after night, the ten of us children would watch
helplessly as our father beat up on our mother. Crouched in a corner,
we would cry, "Daddy, please stop!" to no
graduated from high school, I enrolled in the Special Command Forces of
the army to complete my two year military requirement. I was filled
with anger and resentment, and determined to get revenge on the
guerrillas who had destroyed my family's life.
Then, my life changed dramatically: God's mercy embraced
me, healed me, and made me a new person for his glory. From that moment
on, Jesus is my Lord. I learned the
importance of forgiveness, and was reconciled with my father. My
mother, who was a believer, rejoiced to see the changes in me.
to serve God and was eager to study. With no money but trusting in God,
I enrolled in a seminary and became a Methodist pastor. But I knew that
I needed further study to respond adequately to the tremendous
challenges of ministry. My dreams became reality when I was accepted to
study at a highly respected university, the Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericana.
One of my
greatest blessings is my beloved wife, Geovana, who, with her beautiful
smile, causes me to fall in love with her anew every day. As a
psychologist, she has offered many insights into my pastoral work.
Together we praise God for our daughter, Paula Karissa. I was
overwhelmed with God's love when my daughter was born, when I saw her
first smile, heard her laughter and her first words and stroked her
soft skin. The hardest part of being in Costa Rica is being separated