Jerusalem Pastors' School
“I was on my own at ten years old,” Javier shared with me. “My parents separated and left me to fend for myself. I was on the streets from then on. Shortly after that,
I got into drugs.”
Javier is now sixteen years old. Introduce to the scene: Tomás, Pedro, and Juan. The three of them travel to Javier’s native city of Pucallpa. Their assignment is a six month jungle practicum. They are to win souls and start a core team for a future church plant. Not long into their time there, they encounter Javier.
Javier is wandering the streets in a drug-induced fog. He is completely void of any purpose. He has never experienced what it feels like to be loved. Pedro and Juan both understand. They, too, were enslaved to the devil a few years ago.
They came out of a life of drug addiction—into the glorious light of Jesus’ kingdom. Their hearts are moved with compassion for Javier. They invite him to church.
Javier sees something he’s never seen before in these three young men. He is drawn to them. He decides to try out church. He finds himself weeping and weeping during the service. “Why am I crying like this?” he asks himself. “I do not cry!” Javier succumbs to the love of Jesus. He gives his life to Him.
After that, Pedro, Juan, and Tomás take Javier in. They watch him vigilantly, not letting him out of their sight. They pray him through his transition off drugs. He reports afterward that God was working in him so powerfully that he did not even feel much intensity of struggle within himself as he left that evil behind.
He also reports that he heard God speaking to him. “Son, just as you see these young men ministering, you will be doing the same thing someday.”
The day arrives when his three leaders have to return to Iquitos. Their six month assignment is complete. Javier is walking past the church that day. He wanders in, and finds Tomás there. Tomás says to him, “We’re leaving today. Why don’t you come with us? You can come be a student at our Pastors’ School!”
Javier’s heart is ready. He takes Tomás to talk to his dad, who happens to be in town. His dad is happy for him to go. So he boards the boat with his leaders. And they are on their way!
In this way, Javier became one of our new students this year. He told me his story peacefully one evening recently. He smiled as if his life were typical. Mostly, he’s just grateful beyond words that he’s been found. His heart, at last, has come home.
“What are you doing here? I wish the midwife had killed you!” Florentina’s mother Jasbleidy observed her with disdain. With those five words, she delivered a lethal blow to Florentina’s hopes. Her dream of rebuilding a beautiful relationship with the woman who gave birth to her--was instantly shattered in a heap.
Jasbleidy made several attempts to abort Florentina. Florentina managed to survive each attempt. However, her appearance in this world was a constant reminder to Jasbleidy of her pain. Pain caused by the unfaithfulness of Florentina’s father. Jasbleidy kept her infant daughter at an emotional distance at best.
It was not long before Jasbleidy decided to get rid of Florentina. The little girl was then passed from relative to relative for the rest of her childhood and teen years. In one of the homes where she lived, she was beaten daily and half starved. The woman who had “taken her in” tried to kill her with a knife on numerous occasions.
When Florentina escaped that torturous situation, the few individuals that were kind to her all died in tragic accidents. Florentina’s young life was one deep sadness after another.
It was a desperate Florentina that stumbled into our church a few years ago. No one had to seek her out—she came looking for us. Looking for eyes that would kind to her and a hearts that would love her. And she found what she was looking for.
She became regularly involved in discipleship and prayer. She learned to forgive from her heart all those who had profoundly wounded her. She also renounced and was set free from past involvement in black magic and other occult practices.
Florentina is hungry for the Lord. She wants to serve Him with all her heart. She became a student at our Pastors’ Training School. During her practicum, she preached the gospel to a witch doctor, cast out demons from a little girl (whose family was amazed to find her in her right mind), and persuaded a young woman not to have an abortion.
It wasn’t that long ago that I met a broken girl plagued by anger and suicidal thoughts. I have seen her undertake an amazingly brave journey of forgiveness, healing, and growth. She is so radically different now from the Florentina I met then, I hardly recognize her!
Meet Kique. He began doing drugs when he was 12 years old. At that same age, he was sucked into the monstrous machinery of the cocaine industry.
Kique’s parents had never cared for him. Absorbed in their own crippling life issues, they did not notice if their young son was present or absent. He was unattached to them. Vulnerable. Soon he began taking on the job of actually fabricating the drug at the hidden jungle factories.
Fast forward to May 2011. Kique is sitting in the building of our church plant in Contamana. Diego, one of our pastors in training, has invited him to the service. Kique is now nineteen years old. He has lived the last seven years of his life snared in the world of drug abuse and trafficking. Long enough to learn the truth—that this life style means certain death. Would you consider him reachable?
Pastor Israel is preaching this evening. It is the very last night of his visit. Tomorrow he will be wrapping up this leg of his missions trip and boarding the lancha boat. He will then embark on the three day journey back home to Iquitos.
The fire of God is in the room! Pastor Israel is pouring out his heart with passion. Speaking forth God’s Word with authority and much liberty. He concludes his message and begins to pray over those present. One by one, he is handing out words from God. He approaches Kique (whom he has never met, and knows nothing about).
He gazes at Kique with boldness and compassion. “You find yourself trapped in a deep pit,” he says. “You cannot get out. There is only one escape. You must give yourself completely to God.” Kique falls down on the dirt floor in a heap with a loud cry. He is overcome with weeping, overcome with desire for freedom. For the new life being offered to him in Christ.
Kique prays a prayer of surrender. Pastor Israel then hears from the Holy Spirit again: “You can’t leave him here! Rescue him. Take him with you back home.”
Obediently, Pastor Israel implores Kique, “Come with me to Iquitos tomorrow. I want you to come live at our missions school. God wants to give you a new life!” Immediately, Kique seizes upon this offer. “Yes, Pastor, I will go with you!”
On the boat trip to Iquitos, Kique periodically points out villages along the way to his new-found mentor. “This is another place where there’s a crack factory.” “Here’s another one.” “Here, too, I worked making cocaine.” At each one, the captain of the boat looks at him quizzically. “You’re not getting off here, either?” The captain knows him well from the many, many trips he has taken up and down the river for this “trade.”
“No, sir. I’m headed all the way to Iquitos. My life is changing completely. I’m going to be a pastor!”
Kique arrived on campus at our school in May of 2011. He stuck out his withdrawal symptoms through intense prayer. During nearly every service, meeting, worship session, and class time, he weeps. He cannot get over how profoundly grateful he feels to have been rescued.
I will not pretend that every step of the way has been easy for this young man. He has had some relapses. But each time he has fallen, he has gotten back up on his feet in the Lord. I was dialoguing with him the other day as he accompanied me on the three kilometer hike back to the main road from our school campus. He passionately described his dream to me.
“There are so many kids wandering around, completely lost, like I was,” he said emotionally. “I want to build a home for them. I want to give them a chance for a better future. I’m not worthy to be here, but this desire is so strong in me. ‘I do not count my life dear to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.’” He quoted his favorite Bible verse to me.
Kique’s voice broke up in tears several times during our conversation. He has a long journey ahead of him, as he continues to grow up into maturity. But his heart is tender towards the Lord. I am moved as I hear him tell me his life’s story. I, too, am longing to see his dream come true!
Here are the stories of a few more of our students: