Nearly a decade ago, my colleague Dean Davis and I had the privilege of telling the story of a remarkable man, Enrique Guillén. In One Faith Multiplied, we introduced the life, faith, and enduring legacy of this disciple-maker extraordinaire. Small in stature and a man of humble beginnings, this Ecuadorian pastor was nevertheless a giant in kingdom terms, and the ripples from his lifetime of equipping and releasing leaders continue to spread far beyond the confines of coastal Ecuador. Although Enrique went to be with the Lord in 2014, his spiritual children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are keeping up the “family likeness,” making disciples and disciple-makers in places all across the Western hemisphere.
One of those spiritual children is also Enrique’s biological son, David Guillén, who for 13 years has been making disciples of Jesus in La Mancha, Spain, the land of windmills and Don Quijote. With his wife Gardenia, David has been effectively identifying, equipping, and releasing young leaders into kingdom ministry. How have the Guilléns done this? In the same Jesus-shaped way that David’s father did—by inviting these emerging leaders to walk alongside them, to be trained in ministry rather than for ministry. Here are some of their testimonies.
Emilio is a Spaniard who met Jesus through Peace and Hope, the church-planting ministry led by the Guilléns. From new believer to seminary graduate, Emilio’s spiritual and ministerial journey has been made in the close company of his pastors, as he has honed his exceptional evangelistic gift. “The pastors’ humility and how they walked alongside me is something that has greatly influenced my growth. From the beginning they transmitted trust and confidence in me, respecting my ideas and insights, not imposing their own opinions but allowing the Lord to use me in my cultural context. They have counseled me in my studies and have allowed me to put that learning into practice, giving me opportunities to lead and exercise authority in the church. Many people are afraid that emerging leaders will ‘steal’ their ministry, and so they stall or impede the ministry of future pastors, teachers, and missionaries. David and Gardenia are different—they see a disciple of God and they train him or her, working alongside and releasing the disciple for the growth of the kingdom. May God allow me to do the same with those who are growing up in the church—I want the joy of sitting in the pew and watching them exercise their God-given ministry gifts!”
Giuseppe and Veruzka are a dynamic young couple from Venezuela. After three years in the company of David and Gardenia, they are now respected leaders on the Peace and Hope team. Giuseppe says, “I am so thankful for Pastors David and Gardenia and for the pastoral heart they have for Christ’s church. More than leaders, they are friends that we can trust completely and with whom we can be ourselves. I have seen in them the character of humble servants, always ready to serve the Lord with full commitment. They have modeled for me what it means to be a true minister of God and how the various aspects of ministry should be handled, with correct wisdom, prudence, and pastoral love. They have invested their time in helping me, mentoring me, and modeling for me what it means to be a disciple of Christ. I am so grateful for this, and also for the full confidence they have shown in me, allowing me the opportunity to serve God in the church with my gifts and talents.”
Veruzka concurs with her husband, noting the pastors’ dedication and commitment to her in the process of restoration, formation, and strengthening of her faith. “I have seen their effort for the work of the kingdom of God, demonstrated in loving actions, patience, goodness, understanding, and wisdom. Their pastoral heart encourages me and challenges me to follow the legacy that they are modeling. With sincere friendship, they have invested time in getting to know me and have encouraged me to keep moving forward in God’s purposes for my life. They have put their trust in me, by making me part of the hard and important work of ministry, always with their supportive presence.”
Key words—presence, commitment, accompaniment, friendship, trust. These are the pastoral qualities that have allowed David and Gardenia to make strong, committed, engaged disciples for the kingdom of God in Spain. Emilio, Giuseppe, and Veruzka will be key players as Peace and Hope reaches from its points of strength in La Mancha and Barcelona to send a team of church planters into strategic areas along the Mediterranean coast in 2021. Stay tuned for that chapter of One Faith Multiplied!
Dr. Rachel Coleman, OMS Theological Education Team