My Testimony

by Rafael Gutierrez

There were 5 children in my

family. After my parents divorced,

I grew up with my grandmother who

was very religious and took me to the

Catholic Church. I wanted to help in

the church by being an Altar Boy and

go to seminary to become a priest.

However I felt an emptiness in my

heart that religious ceremonies could

not fill. Because of my desire to please

God, I studied the catholic catechism,

made the first communion, confessed

my sins to the priest, prayed the

Rosary, and prayed to images. At the

age of 13 I was already a leader in the

Catholic church. I started to preach

the gospels and about the Virgin Mary

in houses, led a group of youth, sang

in the choir, and made sacrifices. I

wanted to do everything that was

necessary to please God and earn my

salvation. But I still needed something

else since my flesh wanted to follow

the ways of the world. I started

praying for more revelation from God

and wanted to be like the saints that

the church prayed to but even though

I tried, I could not do it.

My cousin saw how religious I was and told me that he wanted to enroll me in a Bible course offered by the Baptists. I accepted and weeks later I got a course in the mail, which was based on 5 truths: God loves me, I am a sinner, Christ died for me on the cross, I need to repent of my sins, and I need to accept Jesus by faith. What good news to me! Jesus had done all that was necessary to satisfy God so I did not have to work for my salvation. I just needed to accept the sacrifice he bought for me on the cross. I then decided to write a letter to the pastor to invite him to visit me. I also visited an evangelical church but my family warned me not to do that anymore.

I wondered why.

I was still searching for the real church so I studied and visited all

kinds of religious groups while adding more ceremonies. The turning point for my life came on August 4, 1982. Two pastors and two American missionaries came to explain the good news to me and I decided to repent of my sins and accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I felt the emptiness in my heart disappear and I was born again. Then I became hungry for God so I read the whole Bible, memorized Bible verses, and was baptized by immersion on December 12, 1982.

As the first member of the Baptist church in my home town, the pastor asked me to help him by visiting others. Later I became a Sunday school teacher for children, the treasurer, and worship leader. I also learned Sign Language and opened a ministry for the deaf. God was calling me to serve him, but felt I needed to learn more of his Word so I asked the church to support me at the Dominican Baptist Seminary. After Seminary the Lord called me as a missionary to the deaf and used me to help other Baptist churches start deaf ministries. Two years later the Baptist Church of San Cristobal called me to be a pastor and during that time I went to college and the Lord provided me with a degree in Languages and my wife, Teresa. After 5 years, the Lord called me to another church with the vision of working with small groups and He gave Teresa and me two sons, Addiel and Joel. In 1998 God called me to help with the church in my home town and in 2003 to help another Baptist church in la Vega and one inside a Christian School. In 2007 Teresa and I started a ministry called Ministerio Crecer y Multiplicar to help other churches to grow and multiply. In 2008, I received a scholarship to do my masters work at USU and we have since become members of Maranatha Baptist Church. Our vision is to train others to go into missions to reach Hispanics, the deaf, and all nations for his glory. â–