Carlos raced home, soaked from head to toe. As he opened the front door, he
sighed in relief. The house was empty. He hung his dripping clothes on the
line to dry in the Mexican sun.
Invigorated by what he had done and relaxed by the fact that he had gotten
away with it, Carlos settled into a quiet Sunday. He forgot all about his
clothes . . . until his mother came home. She knew instantly what had
happened: her teenage son, raised to be Catholic, had been baptized in a
She put her foot down, "You need to make a decision. Either that church or
"You're not going to like my answer," Carlos replied.
That was it. His mother never made him answer. After two years of hiding
his faith, Carlos lived openly in front of his family, who watched him
closely. That was 1986 in Culiacán, Sinaloa.
* * * *
1997: Carlos looked at the missionary couple from Dallas Theological
Seminary (DTS). For three years, they had visited his church in Mexico. The
second year, they had brought a box—a box that changed his life. Inside, he
found cassettes of Chuck Swindoll's messages in English and a copy of The Grace Awakening in Spanish. Through the tapes, Carlos began
learning English. Through the book, he discovered a radical grace unlike
any he had ever heard.
Now, on the couple's third visit, they had offered him an opportunity to attend
one class at DTS: Bible Study Methods by Dr. Howard Hendricks. It was a
chance Carlos had dreamed of since he first spoke in church a decade
earlier. The shyness that had always gripped him had fallen off like
shackles that day. In its place came courage and conviction . . . and a new
Alongside that longing, his life had grown to be "complete." He had
finished a term as the mayor's chief of staff—the youngest in Culiacán,
Sinaloa's history. He was beginning a new business opportunity with the mayor's daughter. He had a fiancée and a computer design business.
But he had always wanted to learn how to study the Scriptures.
The course would take just five weeks. . . .
* * * *
Carlos looked at the sky over DTS. The class wasn't over and hadn't been
easy. He'd gotten by with an electronic translator. But he was invigorated,
captivated by what he learned. He knew he had to become a
full-time student. He also knew making that happen was impossible.
A career and a fiancée waited for him. His mother, who had come to Christ
through Carlos' character, was ill with Parkinson's. He hardly spoke
English. He couldn't afford tuition. The committee that approved
international students wouldn't meet until the next semester.
Overwhelmed, Carlos thought of a favorite song: "God Will Make a Way." If this is You, Carlos prayed, You will make a way.
Two days later, the phone rang: Carlos had been accepted at DTS. Two hours
later, it rang again: he had received a full scholarship. When it rang a
third time, he had a job in the registrar's office.
On the plane back to Mexico, he reflected. God had made a way into
DTS. Carlos' siblings would care for their mother. His partner had bought
out their business. His fiancée had understood but broke off their
engagement; she wanted to stay in Mexico. Only one end remained untied—the
business opportunity with the mayor's daughter.
The plane landed in Houston for a connecting flight. As Carlos settled into
his next seat, his heart leapt. The mayor sat beside him. Carlos explained
his new plans. The mayor, who wasn't a Christian, not only understood; he
explained things to his daughter and collected enough gifts from people at city hall to fully fund Carlos' move to Texas!
* * * *
February 1998: Carlos looked up from his desk. He heard a familiar voice; Chuck Swindoll was making his way through the building. When he got to
the registrar's office, Carlos introduced himself. As they talked, he took
a chance. "You know what?" Carlos said, "I have a dream. A book that was
given to me, The Grace Awakening, changed my life and
defined my ministry. I would love one day to translate your sermons into
Three years later, Chuck invited Carlos to start the Spanish-language
service at Stonebriar Community Church (SCC), in Frisco, Texas, under
Chuck's senior leadership. Six years later, while preparing a message
series on the persecuted church, Carlos contacted Insight for Living
Ministries, hoping to make a connection with a church experiencing
persecution. That led to a lunch . . . which led to Carlos' becoming pastor
of Visión Para Vivir (VPV), the Spanish-language ministry
of Insight for Living Ministries.
* * * *
The week of March 7, 2011: Carlos thought back to exactly a year before.
Standing on the bus he'd been assigned to shepherd for Insight's Israel
tour, his eyes had locked on one passenger: Karla. Now, he stood on the
grounds of Antigua, Guatemala's Casa Santo Domingo. He had traveled to
Guatemala with VPV staff to host a pastoral conference, and Karla
had come as the photographer. In 2008, he had visited the same hotel. He
had decided then THIS was the place to propose, if ever God led
him to the woman of his dreams.
Carlos looked at her now . . .
* * * *
November 11, 2011: Chuck married Carlos and Karla at Stonebriar Community Church
in a beautiful ceremony that perfectly blended their two cultures. This
year, they adopted a precious baby boy from China.
Through Carlos' walking the streets of Frisco to connect with Hispanics in
the area, the Spanish-language service at SCC grew from no members to
hundreds. God not only fulfilled Carlos' dream of learning to study the
Word; He made a way for Carlos to teach others to do the same. In addition
to preaching on Sundays and translating Insight for Living into
Spanish, Carlos has taught several classes for the Lay Institute of DTS and
for Central American Theological Seminary (SETECA), including Bible Study
Methods in Spanish!
In his 11 years with VPV, he has traveled throughout the U.S.,
Latin America, and the Caribbean, hosting leadership conferences, marriage
and men's retreats, revivals, and other Bible-study seminars in 12
countries. From Cuba to Peru, Bolivia to the Dominican Republic, he trains
pastors and lay leaders to use Chuck's Searching the Scriptures
study methods. Through video calls, he does one-on-one mentoring with
believers in other countries over longer stretches.
This past August,
Carlos stepped down from SCC to dedicate himself full-time to helping
Insight for Living Ministries pursue Vision 195
in the world's 22 Spanish-speaking countries.
Looking back, Carlos shakes his head in awe. He has no doubt. From those
dripping clothes on the line in Mexico to a seminary in Texas . . . across
the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to pastors desperate for training
. . . over the Atlantic to a little boy chosen specifically for Carlos and
Karla . . .
God made a way.