God’s call from the Andes Mountains

Ubaldo Rodriguez, New Hope Fellowship Baltimore, ubalrod@hotmail.com

I am glad that the Lord called me when I was a teenager. I believe nowadays that listening to God’s call is hard because we must listen through the worries of life and the distraction of the world’s noise to hear and respond to his call.

During the preparation for “my first communion” in the Catholic Church, I started to feel the Lord’s call toward service. I was 12 and lived with my parents by the Andes Mountains thirty miles north of Bogota, Colombia. I remember that I had some questions about Jesus and the Catholic Church. I asked questions like, “Why did baby Jesus not grow up?” “Why did we have to pay for baptisms, confirmations and funerals?” and “Why was preaching not relevant for real life?” I knew, somehow, that something was not right, but I did not know what.

When I was 19, my parents sent me to Bogota to study. After a semester of living in a big city, my father and I got involved in a witchcraft situation without knowing it. We went to different places for help, but we could not find any release. We could not become free from that evil power. My uncle, who was Christian, told us that the only way to overcome that evil power was through Jesus Christ. Therefore, we decided to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and we started to attend a Mennonite church in Bogota. After several months of attending, we were free from that evil influence. After a year, I was baptized by water. I remember that after my baptism, I began to pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I prayed for a long time, believing Luke 11:13b: “. . . how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (NRSV) After three years of prayer, I was baptized in the Spirit in a worship service.

Years later, I studied in Bogota in a two-year evangelical Bible institute. After that, the Lord granted me a one-year opportunity through the Mennonite Central Committee International Exchange Program in the US. Reflecting back on that time, I realized that the Lord was opening doors for me in different places. It was during that time, as I walked through those doors in obedience to God, that my ministry began to take shape. It was also during that time in 1993 that I decided to open my life completely to God and to serve the Lord only. I quit my job and said, “Lord, here is my life, use me as you wish.” God started to open doors outside Colombia for my Biblical and theological formation. I went to Hesston College’s Pastoral Ministry Program. Years later, I went to Costa Rica to study the scriptures from the Latin American perspective. I thought Colombia was going to be the place for a long-term ministry, working with the poor and the victims of the country’s internal conflict, however the Lord had other plans for me. In 2006, God, in his mercy, allowed me to come to Eastern Mennonite Seminary for further education. Maybe God took me out of my country in order to serve somewhere else and not become one of the hundreds of pastors killed recently in Colombia.

God’s call in my life has been a process: accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior, witnessing God’s power against the powers of darkness, experiencing baptism in the Holy Spirit, responding in obedience, receiving an excellent Christian education and committing to serve in the Mennonite Church.

New Hope Fellowship Baltimore is a new church plant connected with Wilkins Avenue Mennonite Church and New Hope Fellowship in Alexandria, VA. If you are interested in supporting this initiative to reach Spanish speakers in the city, contact Steve Kriss, skriss@franconiaconference.org.