Life with Pablo…
Well, let’s just say the Apostle Paul is never boring!
I am just about finished up with my virtual class for this bimester, Pauline Literature and it’s difficult to whittle down the experience of studying this giant of the Christian faith.
The man was not perfect, I’ll admit (and this is something he would say about himself) but he sure was formidable.
His conversion as a former persecutor of the church is gripping and it changed the course of Christianity.
Paul wrote half the New Testament (something disputed by the Academy, but that’s for another day.) He was a prolific church planter among the Gentile population, which for a former Pharisee, speaks to the depth of his change after meeting the Lord.
Finally, his statements in Galatians and Romans about salvation by faith form the bedrock of Protestant Christianity.
Pick Your Topic
Part of the joy in studying Paul is the variety of topics that he covers in his letters. Perhaps just as important, is the way he utilizes theology for the nitty gritty of pastoral care:
- To encourage unity among the Philippians, he uses the incarnation and the call for them to have “the mind of Christ”
- To encourage the Thessalonians who had lost loved ones he uses the second coming. Your loved ones are sleeping and will be resurrected when the Lord comes.
- To spur the Ephesians to walk worthy of their calling, he speaks to their being seated in heaven in Christ
- For the divisions in the Corinthian church, he speaks about the church as the body of Christ with many members
We covered each of Paul’s letters, from his incredulity with the Galatians for abandoning the gospel, to the supremacy of Christ in dealing with the Colossian heresy to his magisterial explanation of the gospel in Romans.
We looked at his defense of his apostleship via his sufferings in 2nd Corinthians to dealing with false apostles and teachings in the Pastorals (and providing a list of qualifications for leaders to counter these movements).
Gabriel is an electrical engineer by trade having worked in technology, sales and marketing and development with many multinational organizations both in Colombia and the U.S. including Unisys, Microsoft and Intel.
All was going swimmingly well in Gabriel’s career, and then one day, God came knocking…
A New Spiritual Journey
In 2010, Gabriel left Intel and both he and his wife began pastoring a new church plant in Bogotá based on Gabriel’s desire to serve the Lord in full-time ministry. Gabriel and his wife had been active in their church for many years in discipleship, teaching, youth ministry and working with professionals. Pastoring became an extension of that experience.
In 2013, Gabriel had a crisis of faith.
His desire was to reach the postmodern generation, but it was not in his denomination’s DNA. An institutional conflict ensued, angst followed and he made the difficult choice to part ways.
Had he heard the Lord correctly in starting on this new direction in life three years earlier?
Indeed, he had! And he felt it more strongly than ever when he moved just outside of Bogotá, to Chia, where he was given a plot of land to start a new work.
He would call it a Place of Encounter.
The name would indicate its mission to a postmodern generation. He avoided overtly religious language and it would have three pillars all with the focus of reaching post-moderns:
- An emphasis on social work
- An openness on working with other churches (which can sometimes be a problem in certain contexts).
A local businessman offered him a huge tent. Others donated chairs, instruments and money. In four years, the church has grown to 700 people and 110 children. The church has also established a foundation that emphasizes social work and educational projects for the community.
The Need for Further Education
It was during this huge transition that Gabriel entered the seminary. He needed to acquire more knowledge and better ministry tools. He aspired to be an author as well and wanted a place where he could read, reflect and write.
As he states, “there is a great danger of ministerial leaders who lack preparation in this country.”
Gabriel is doing something to correct his own deficiencies.
Gabriel is grateful for the BSC’s virtual program. He would never be in a position to relocate his family and ministry to Medellín for four years. Now, he can study anywhere with a connection and interact with leaders from different parts of Colombia as he continues to prepare for the ministry that lies ahead.