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What brought you to Iglesia del Pueblo/Wheaton Bible Church?
After moving to Aurora from Brookfield, we realized that the trip to our church in Summit was a challenge, especially during winter. Therefore, we decided to start looking for a new spiritual home close to Aurora. Juan Marcos Gomez, the worship pastor of Iglesia del Pueblo, knew of our need and invited our family to visit the church at Wheaton. During multiple visits we noticed the Bible-centered teachings, the church community environment, and the great children’s programs the church offered. These first impressions were critical to helping our family realize that we had found the spiritual home we were looking for.
Then, in 2004, the church was involved in various initiatives—including the move from downtown Wheaton to West Chicago—and we thought that was a great time for our family to get more active in the church. We became members in December 2004.
Is there a special church memory or experience for you?
The most memorable church event was when my kids were baptized. It was a very important step in their lives and one that we as parents enjoyed very much and thank the Lord for.
What should Wheaton Bible Church members and attenders know about the Iglesia del Pueblo experience/ministry?
Our congregation works very diligently to operate with a focus on Christ-centered biblical teachings. Iglesia del Pueblo exists to propagate the Gospel—the Good News of Christ our Savior—with passion, live the Gospel (know that Christ lives in us), and be the Gospel (examples of Christ on earth), to a confused and troubled society for the glory of God. Our dedicated, passionate, and talented staff and volunteers work hard to bring the people in our community and surrounding towns to Christ. We also want to show them that Iglesia del Pueblo and Wheaton Bible Church are concerned about their overall well-being—including their basic material needs. In all these things, we strive to provide efficient programs and services in a manner that lifts up the name of the Lord.
How long have you been an Elder?
I am in the first year of my first term as an Elder.
What is the most challenging part of being an Elder? What is the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding part is to be in a church that has allowed the Holy Spirit to work freely to create programs and services for the community and then see people’s lives being touched and changed, and souls saved for the glory of God.
The most challenging part is to understand that God wants to use us—even though we know we are imperfect human beings—as the apostle Paul says in Romans 7:15: “What I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate” (NASB). Even so, the Lord continues to work through each Elder of His church.
How and when did you accept Christ as your Savior?
I came to the USA as a nonbeliever and with a scholarship from Venezuela, no financial concerns, and great expectations for my earthly future. I thought I was all set and on my way to a great life, free from the control of my parents and studying in the best country on earth. Well, my earthly young reasoning, emotions, and beliefs were very far from the truth, and at that time I thought God was nowhere close to my plans. However, the Master Architect of creation, God Himself, really had a plan for me. After I had spent many days and nights of emptiness and sadness, the Lord came to my rescue. He filled me with His presence, gave me joy and peace, and changed my life completely and forever. I am still a sinner—a work in progress with the same problems as everyone else—but with a new Commander in charge. It was more than 20 years ago that I accepted Christ into my heart and life.
Could you share one or two favorite Scripture verses and say a little about why they mean so much to you?
Two passages come to mind that help me set the right perspective and parameters in my life every morning.
Mathew 6:9–13: “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (NKJV)
And Psalm 23: The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (NKJV)
These passages give me confidence and peace and strengthen my faith, because I know that the Lord is in control—like the song says: Not because of who I am. But because of what you’ve done. Not because of what I’ve done. But because of who you are.
Tell us about your “growing up” years.
I am from Caracas, Venezuela, South America. Caracas is about half an hour from the shore of the Caribbean Sea, so our family enjoyed going there all the time. I grew up in a middle-class home. My father was usually at work, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. I have one brother and one sister. All my family is still in Venezuela. Mom and Dad brought us up in the Roman Catholic faith, which is entrenched very deeply in the South American culture.
My dad passed away about 10 years ago, but I had the pleasure of praying with him during one of my trips to Venezuela. He received the Lord a few years before his death. My mom received the Lord on one of her trips to visit us in the USA, and my sister did too. I continually pray for my mom, my brother, and my sister, because I know that living in Venezuela makes it very hard to solidify your faith and continue your spiritual growth.
You’re a husband and father. Tell us about your family.
I have been married to Ruth for 28 years. We have two children, our daughter, Katherine, age 13, and our son, Jack, age 10.
Ruth and I were married for about 14 years and had no children. It was not because we did not want a family; we just simply could never complete the full period of pregnancy. Our children are real blessings from above. Katherine and Jack are really the fruit of prayers of dear brothers and sisters who lived through those years with us.
These precious kids really keep us very busy and in constant touch with our emotions. And, like most parents would say, even though they are wonderful kids, they test our faith and patience every day. Yet we know the Lord has very special and specific plans for them; nothing happens by coincidence. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Tell us a story about your life that offers insight about you or your walk with God.
A few years after coming to the US to study in Ohio, the Lord guided a missionary couple across our path. They began to teach my wife and me about the Bible—and I believe this is when the spiritual battles intensified for me.
During that year, the Venezuelan government experienced an economic crisis and began to take scholarships away. This required me to look for odd jobs and forced my wife to move and work in Chicago to stay afloat with college and other expenses. It was also during those days— and not by coincidence, I believe—that I began to feel very strange emotionally. I felt empty and homesick, which is probably a feeling all immigrants experience and have to live with. This turned into an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and sadness. This terrible feeling forced me to go out one night onto the streets of the campus for several hours, crying aloud for help. Curiously enough, no human being in town heard me or came to help me. And not surprisingly, that was the night the Lord had prepared for my freedom.
I still remember the great feeling of peacefulness that came over me as I let Jesus into my heart. That evening started as a very painful night, but it ended up being the most beautiful and fulfilling night one could ever hope for.
I now understand that immigrating to the USA was God’s plan for me. The Lord had to separate me from my parents, thousands of miles away, and also from my wife later on, for my own good, to give me real life, abundant life. Now, a few years later, I can say that this situation also taught me a lesson: The Lord allows human beings to move around the world, as necessary, to fulfill His purpose. As we read in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
I am the first from my family to accept Christ as Savior, and I am not talking about family in the strict sense of mother, father, sister, or brother. I am referring to uncles, aunts, cousins. The Lord used this situation to save me and then as an opportunity for the rest of the family to hear the Word of God and be saved as well. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Much of the time, His ways are contrary to our ways.
This great life experience as an immigrant taught me to be very careful about the way I see other immigrants. It taught me to think very carefully and not to interfere with God’s plan in reference to 1 Corinthians 10:32 “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God.”
If you could speak personally with each member of the congregation, what would you say?
Church, our purpose in life is to praise the Lord and to be instruments to facilitate His wonderful plan for humanity. Let’s all remain in prayer at all times, seeking heavenly wisdom to see clearly and not interfere in God’s plan. We should be completely clear about three important facts, based on 1 Corinthians 10:13: “God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
I would ask the congregation to actively practice their faith by making our goal heaven, not earth, and asking ourselves three simple questions very frequently: Where is my heart? Whom do I serve? And, what is my purpose in life?
Last, I would encourage the congregation to be bold and preach the Gospel openly and without fear.