Thriving Together is a newsletter for women serving in or preparing for ministerial leadership in The Wesleyan Church. Each month, we want to embody 1 Thessalonians 5:11:
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
This month’s Thriving Together newsletter celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month. The Wesleyan Church is so grateful to these women who represent the Kingdom Culture in their multicultural communities and proclaim the Gospel in Spanish and English.
Encouraging One Another
On Sunday, January 15, 2006, my life took a complete turn when I returned to church on my native island of Puerto Rico. After four years of receiving Christ but not being a disciple, no one in my family knew about Christ. So it was not until the age of 17 that I went to church again; from that Sunday, I was never the same. From that day, I knew I would serve him, and I said to him, Lord: “Here am I, send me to me,” and so it was. In that church, the leaders and my beloved Pastor, Dr. Fausto Lora, taught me and helped train me.
My conversion caused a domino effect in my family, and within a few months, my family also converted to the gospel. In less than a year, I began participating in missions; I went to different places carrying the message and serving with love. At the age of 19, God spoke to me about specific things about both the call to pastoral ministry and the servant He would place at my side with the same call, and within a year, I was already beginning to see the fulfillment of that word. I served in different areas while continuing to prepare for pastoral ministry, and at the age of 22, I married the man that God had mentioned to me some time ago.
This adventure began ten years ago when we were sent to Wisconsin. With all those challenges and fears, I still said: Yes, Lord! We left behind everything we knew: stability, family, and community. Praying and trusting that God would open doors. Sustained by his word, we decided to obey God even though it made no sense to venture like that. Today, I can say: “Ebenezer the Lord has helped me up to this point.”
Paul’s words of encouragement to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12 have been a great encouragement to me to this day. Upon our arrival, the biggest challenge was language and culture. Thank God they are no longer barriers because we have adapted lately; the biggest challenge in these years of ministry is to fulfill with excellence in everything, both at home, secular work, and ministry, learning to have a balance.
Today, I preach and lead the prophetic school of healing and liberation. I serve wherever God places me, but most importantly, I never forget who I am. Basically, I don’t focus on who I am because of my ethnicity, the stereotype of the Latina woman, but on who God says I am. It hasn’t all been spring, especially in Wisconsin. Even with many winters, I prefer to savor those short seasons of good weather, literally and metaphorically. The tedium of the call is a very high one; abandoning everything to follow him, depending on God at all times, is living a life with many sacrifices, but none of that weighs when we love the one who called us. Nothing can ever be an excuse to serve and bring the message of Christ; the times belong to him, family, age, and nationality; there is no excuse to do what God sends you to do in this time. “He who carries the precious seed will walk and cry; But he will come again with joy, bringing the sheaves of it.” Psalms 126:6
Teresita Rios, alongside her husband Emmanuel and her two children, pastor the House of Restoration Church in New Berlin, WI, in the Great Lakes District.
Building Each Other Up
CHEER UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIGHT
For a long time within our Hispanic culture, we have generalized some aspects of the church that focus on one person, one place, one day, and even one hour. Years have passed, and many of those norms are still valid to this day, and that is why, through these short words, I would like to express from the depths of my interior, that as a Hispanic woman in the ministry, it has not been an easy path, since the norm within the church is that the pulpit is only centralized in one person. It is normally a male figure, leaving aside women’s ministry due to cultural or social influences to not call it “machismo.”
The idea of a woman ministering from a pulpit is frowned upon by many still today. For this reason, many of us do not take a step of faith because we listen to the voices of those who judge us instead of listening to the voice of the one who called us to the ministry. Today, I want to contribute a grain of sand to your ministry and that this grain of sand can fill your life and your mind with security and trust in the one who called you. Keep going; today is not the time to stop; keep going; today is the time to move forward; don’t look back because our call is forward. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:14: “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Our goal is not to fit into the church’s established standards; our goal must be that prize that the apostle Paul speaks of.
It is time to decentralize in our minds the idea that the pulpit is only for male ministers; it is time to continue fighting to fill our pulpits and our churches with ordained ministers, ministerial students, pastors, and women who are passionate about serving and honoring our Lord.
Lastly, I want to end with a few words from a woman who marked humanity with her passion to serve the Lord and those in need. To this day, her example of service continues to echo in our minds and in our hearts. “It’s not how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts.” -Mother Teresa-
I encourage you to take the advice of this wise woman and do things with the love and passion that Christ showed us in his earthly ministry.
Rev. MariaJose Chacon pastors with her husband in El Monte Wesleyan Christian Church. Serving a first, second, and third-generation Hispanic community who have immigrated to the United States in search of a better future for their families.
I was ordained as a pastor in 2007 as the first Hispanic woman in the Ohio District to be bestowed this high honor. Of my 28 years of conversion, 26 of those I have served God and 17 as La Gran Comisión church pastor in Columbus, OH.
Being a female pastor has led me to take on difficult challenges from a cultural point of view, but this has not stopped me from loving teaching and leading lives toward complete transformation and restoration. I consider myself a woman committed to the call of God in reaching, restoring, and loving the lost. One day, God reminded me that I should love others as He loved them, to be compassionate, and understand that many of them may behave a certain way because they have experienced the absence and suffering of their family, their nation of origin, and all the emotions from the day they emigrated all because they wanted something better. And yes, many of them have found the best: With Christ Jesus in their lives, doing the work within them, which is why I keep on going in ministry despite the differences, the rejections, and, in many cases, the difficulties.
When men (literally) have told me it is not possible for me to do it, God has said, “I am with you wherever you go; remain faithful to me (Job 1:9), and I help you. You are not alone; be strong and be brave (Isaiah 41:10); I support you with my right hand, and if I call you, I will go before you (Jeremiah 1:19)”. God has allowed me to shepherd a community of 14 cultures, and the experience has been wonderful.
Do not stop. There is time for more!
Rev. Maria Acuna pastors a multicultural church, “La Gran Comision” in Ohio.
Rejoicing, Praying, Giving Thanks
The Word of God is clear: We are all called to serve! My prayer joins the invitation that Christ made to his disciples in Matthew 9:37-38:
This is my prayer:
Dear Father, Almighty Lord, thank you for your immeasurable love; I thank you for calling and sending women to be part of your ministry. Thank you because all women are included in your call, regardless of race, tribe, nation, color, or tongue. We are your perfect creation. You created us to give you glory. You have made us bearers of your image in Christ; we are called on a mission to go and make disciples of all nations. Your Word encourages us and strengthens us to the call that you have given us to follow you, to obey you, and to have compassion for those who need you. How can they call on him whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how will they preach if they are not sent? (Romans 10:14).
Rev. Grace Lopez and her husband lead the Hispanic Ministry in the Crossroads District.
2023 Ordination Celebration Update
Last month we celebrated all of the men and women who were ordained in 2023 in The Wesleyan Church. We received a few updates, and there has been at least one additional ordination service since our last newsletter. We are thrilled to announce that we now have ordained sixty-one men and thirty-four women in 2023! Praise God for the way He is raising up men and women to lead our churches! Congratulations to the men and women who have answered the call!
Introducing our Atlantic District female ordinands:
Introducing our Greater Ohio District female ordinands:
Here’s the updated picture roster of our 2023 Female Ordinands of The Wesleyan Church.
Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy has a long history of creating events for women exploring and living out their call to ministry and the ministry leaders who support them.
The WHWC team is excited to announce our next event, E2024, will be held March 7-9, 2024 in Dallas, Texas and registration is now open. E2024 is a unique opportunity to connect with like-minded women clergy spanning many denominations. This is a place where you will be re-energized, reaffirmed, and re-ignited as you explore and live out our diverse callings.