After becoming addicted to drugs at the age of 15, Carlos Vazquez quickly grew angry and aggressive. Many people turned away from him, but not his neighbor.
Instead, the neighbor continually reached out to Carlos, telling him that only Jesus Christ could free him from drugs.
Carlos tried to ignore him, but his neighbor’s comments intrigued him. He eventually started to study the Bible, came face to face with Jesus Christ, and began to change.
As the years passed, Carlos felt God leading him to help others ensnared by drugs. In 2006, Carlos and two others began a Christian men’s drug and alcohol rehab center in Tijuana, Mexico. Fifty men are now enrolled there, and Carlos is the director.
“Through prayer, he sensed that he needed to be fully equipped in the Word of God,” says James Lee, a Christian Reformed World Missions missionary in Tijuana. Carlos received a scholarship from one of the Lees’ supporters and enrolled in the Reformed Bible Institute of Tijuana.
“In the past, the ministry in Tijuana had relied on ordained pastors coming out of the seminary in Mexico City to help establish new missions and churches in Tijuana,” says Scott Geurink, another CRWM missionary in Tijuana.
Since Mexico City and Tijuana are 1,800 miles apart, a leadership training program was needed in Tijuana itself. To meet the need, CRWM missionaries and pastors of the Reformed Presbyterian Church established the Bible institute to train local church leaders.
On December 12, Carlos and eight other men and women became the institute’s third graduating class.
Having completed the program, Carlos believes more strongly than ever “that God has given him a purpose in this life: to serve faithfully at the rehab center and preach at different churches and evangelist events,” says Lee.
Other graduates are serving as elders, deacons, and Sunday school teachers, or are preaching in churches without a current pastor. Some are considering going for further seminary training to become ordained pastors. All of the graduates, however, look forward to seeing how God will use them to impact others and, in the process, be changed themselves.