by Paul Olver
Drinking and drugs took him to the town of Durazno, Uruguay. Sebastian Carballo ended up in front of the Free Methodist Church because bicycles were there – just waiting to be stolen. Someone invited Sebastian in for the service. He eventually gave his life to Christ and was discipled.
That was seven years ago. Today Sebastian and his wife, Vanesa, are co-pastors of that church and conference ministerial candidates in the Argentina-Uruguay Mission District. When they received their certificates, Sebastian kept holding his up and staring at it. He said, “My family will never believe this. They never thought I would amount to anything.”
Unfortunately the pastor who led them to Christ had to leave the church on short notice, and many of the small congregation dropped away. Sebastian and Vanesa were asked to step up and take the lead. The district leader, Pastor Ricardo Guerrero, coached them through visits and long phone conversations to help them succeed.
Several times Sebastian and Vanesa have traveled 10 hours by bus and ferry to visit the FMC in Carmen de Areco, Argentina. This is the 600-member mother church of the Argentina-Uruguay District and a model of holistic, intergenerational ministry. There Sebastian and Vanesa have taken intensive courses along with others preparing for ministry on the job. And they have been immersed in a joyful, loving, transforming community. What a great way to be trained and equipped for ministry!
At the annual meeting in February 2015, after their first year as pastors, they reported 27 new adult members – people they had won to Christ – nearly all from backgrounds similar to Sebastian’s. They showed pictures of eight weddings in the last year – fruit of their discipleship and example. They have also started outreach children’s ministries in two nearby towns.
This is a typical story in Latin America – transformed lives, young leaders being developed, husbands and wives serving together, and sacrificial, faith-filled ministry. God is using Free Methodists to fuel and sustain a biblical apostolic movement to reach Latin Americans for Christ.