Twenty years ago Carlos Palacios traded the terror and violence of his then-unstable homeland of Peru for the hope of a new life in North America. Then he felt God calling him to ministry.
Palacios answered that call and recently became one of the first graduates of a new online degree program designed by Christian Reformed Home Missions in collaboration with Calvin Theological Seminary and Kuyper College.
With his B.S. degree in missions/new church development, Palacios is fully credentialed to lead Comunidad de Fe (Community of Faith) CRC, the church he started in early 2008 in Kissimmee, Fla.
Palacios’s path to church planting didn’t happen overnight. After serving in the Peruvian army, he left Peru in 1989, eventually arriving in New Jersey.
Although he was committed to serving God, Palacios did not yet have a personal relationship with Jesus. One day he turned on a local radio station and heard a Pentecostal preacher. Inspired by the message, he drove to the station.
“They took me in and prayed for me right there,” he says. “That was the day I accepted the Lord into my life.”
He started teaching English as a Second Language classes through a Hispanic ministry based at Madison Avenue CRC in Paterson, N.J., and went on to work with Pastor Marco Avila at New Horizon CRC in Clifton, N.J.
In 2007, after learning about the distance-education program Home Missions helped develop, Palacios enrolled in online classes. Soon afterward he started the in-ministry training portion of the program and moved to Florida to intern at Oasis Community Church in Winter Gardens.
Working closely with the Home Missions Hispanic/Southeast U.S. Ministry Team, Palacios started Comunidad de Fe in Kissimmee, a growing community near Orlando.
“We started out with worship in our house, and three months later we found a space in a local high school,” he says. “Our vision is to transform the community into a community of faith in Christ.”