Some Appointed as Pastors

By Pastor Hugo Garcia

My beginnings in the pastoral ministry with my wife, Ivania García, began on March 27, 1994, at the Manantial de Vida Evangelical Mennonite Church, in Camden, New Jersey. My calling was confirmed by my pastor and by the congregation when I had barely decided to follow Jesus Christ three years earlier. I was only 27 years old. I could personally say that the Lord prematurely set me apart for this beautiful privilege. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:11 “And He himself appointed some, apostles; to others, prophets; to others, evangelists; to others, pastors and teachers.”  

I had an internal battle to accept this call and I had three important reasons, which I considered very strong, to decline the opportunity.

  1. I was a recent convert, and was just beginning to serve the Lord. I considered myself immature, but the congregation and the leaders were observing in me some gifts that I had not seen, from which they discerned that I could be the pastor ( Exodus 3:11).
  2. I was very young. Apart from my few years as a Christian, at 27, I considered myself too young to pastor the congregation. However, they understood that when God calls, age is not an impediment (Jeremiah 1: 6-7).
  3. My third argument was that I was undocumented. Lacking proper immigration documents, I concluded I could not lead the congregation. I considered it inappropriate. However, God used the Spanish Council’s leaders to help me see that if God called me, God would also take care of all these matters for me, and God did.

All my arguments were thwarted by God. I had no choice but to accept the divine call. After starting, however, the struggles began. Some leaders of that small congregation of about 25,  who had supported my call before, started fighting me. To discourage me from continuing in the pastoral ministry, they used precisely the same arguments I used before I accepted the call. However, I stood firm despite the battles, aware and sure of my divine call. Perhaps 90% of the congregation withdrew from the church. But my wife and I stood firm with the support of God and the backing of the few brothers who remained and believed in our calling.

We started from scratch, and we worked hard. God continued to guide us and gave us a vision for the work God was calling us to do. We developed that vision to the best of our ability. The church began to grow again, new people were added, and God was glorified. Growth and multiplication in our church continued, and God attested to the growth with miracles. God continues to confirm our ministry with miracles to this day. After almost 28 years as a pastor, we have maintained a baptized membership of more than 130 people, and God continues to add more. God has been gracious to us. We work not only with our congregation, but also support other ministries within the city. Today our congregation has a variety of ministries to meet the needs of different groups of people, both in the church and in the city. We are currently working on the remodeling of our facilities to accommodate a greater capacity, to receive more people. Sunday attendance is about 175, and on weekdays, attendance averages 100. We give all the glory to God. We believe that God has many more things for us. Shalom.

Pastors Hugo and Ivania García, lead the Manantial de Vida Evangelical Mennonite Church in Camden, New Jersey. They are originally from Nicaragua and God has blessed them with three children (one male and two female). The Manantial de Vida congregation is a multicultural and dynamic church, which has several ministries to serve the members of the congregation and the needs of the community. You can find us through Facebook (Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Manantial de Vida) or visit us through

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