Pastor Israel Arimborgo
“I’ll never be a pastor!” twelve-year-old Israel asserted vehemently. Dinner had once again been rice and a fried egg. His family could rarely afford anything more than the simplest of meals. He looked around his family’s dirt floor home. Water snakes swam through the living room every time it flooded—which was often during the rainy season in the Amazon Jungle.
Frustration darkened Israel’s face. He had discovered a distinct talent and passion early on for the game of soccer, and he excelled at it. But from as young an age as he could remember, he had to come up with money on his own for soccer shoes and other such luxuries. As he understood it, this was the direct consequence of his parents being pastors. The needs of their ministry were great, often overwhelming. They often spent what money they had on investing in these needs. Their life caring for the flock and itinerating throughout the Amazon Jungle, planting churches, was one marked by many sacrifices.
“NEVER, you hear me?” he blurted out to his parents again.
And here we are, a quarter of a century later, and Pastor Israel would not trade for what he is doing for all the riches in the world!
After a two year stint at playing professional soccer in the jungle city of Pucallpa, Israel came to understand that for which he was really born: to serve the Lord as a…pastor! God used sharp pains in his chest to get his attention. Immediately, he recognized that it was urgently time to move into living out the calling that he always had known was there. He immediately left behind his lucrative soccer career and the attention of the masses to return to Iquitos.
His humble ministry beginnings included starting a church with a little flock of twenty-five members in a dirty rented building used in the evenings for hedonistic parties. There was always a tremendous, repulsive mess to clean up before setup could happen for their church services. But Israel pressed forward.
Today, Pastor Israel has started three churches, and sent out many others to start their own budding congregations. He administers and teaches at our Pastors’ School. Through this tool God has provided, he is able to see the planting of multiple other churches yearly. He also ministers on staff at our main church in Iquitos, La Iglesia del Evangelio Libre; does much of the worship leading for the adult services, provides support, counsel, and direction for our Pastors’ School graduates out in the field starting new churches, and travels regularly to the young church plants to strengthen them and encourage them in their growth process. His heart burns to see healthy, vibrant congregations birthed in all of the main cities of the Amazon Jungle of Peru. With God’s help and by His grace, we are well on our way.
Pastor Jennifer Arimborgo
“Jesus, please let me be a missionary when I grow up!” three-year-old Jennifer prayed earnestly, her eyes squeezed tightly shut. Somehow, before even her earliest memories can be brought back to recall, the Holy Spirit put the seed of her destiny down deep in her heart. Its moment to come to fruition would transpire seventeen years later, in 1996.
Jennifer grew up happily planning on serving God as a full-time missionary upon college graduation. When other children were talking about becoming doctors, teachers, and firemen, she cheerfully would announce her intent to move to the mission field.
A year away from graduation from the University of Arizona, Jennifer was registered with Teen Mania to go on a two-month summer missions trip to India. This was a trip she had been looking eagerly forward to for two years. However, family events led to the need to cancel these plans. She reluctantly agreed to join a group from her church on a shorter trip down to Peru that summer. What she encountered on that two-week adventure altered the course of her life forever. “This is the place I have prepared for you,” the Holy Spirit spoke clearly to her heart the day she and her team were slated to leave Iquitos. He also told her that day that one of the young men in their host family was going to be her husband.
Five years later, Israel and Jennifer were married. Since their 2001 wedding, she has been serving alongside him in full-time service to the Kingdom of God in Iquitos. She is a staff pastor at our church, La Iglesia del Evangelio Libre; teaches weekly at our Pastors’ School; holds many appointments with students and church members for pastoral counseling and personal prayer ministry; imparts into young women in a weekly mentoring group; mothers their four children; and runs Arimborgo Ministries’ non-profit organization. She also is author of the book, Amazon Missionary Moments: Memoir of a Poured Out Life.