We served for 6 years in the mountains of Jayuya, PR. The town in Jayuya where our church is located is 4400 feet above sea level. Jayuya is in the center of the island. It has a population of 17,000. To learn more about Jayuya click here.
The Jayuya Flag
After doing about 3 years of deputation I came to Puerto Rico in February of 2011 for a 10 day trip. The purpose for this trip was to search for a home that we could start to rent in the city of Hatillo where we were planning to start a new church “from scratch”. During this time, I met a missionary serving here. He informed about a church in the interior of the island up in the mountains of Jayuya. This church had gone through many difficult and trying times. To make matters worse, it was soon going to need a Pastor. This missionary brother lived about 2 hours and 30 minutes away from this church near the metropolitan area of the island where he and his wife were helping to teach in a Christian school. Every Sunday morning he would travel with his family up the dangerous and windy roads of the mountain to conduct services for this church and then afterwards return home. Because of the distance they were only able to provide Sunday morning services. The missionary brother then also explained that he was soon going to have to return to the United States for a year long furlough. However, he needed someone to carry on the work in Jayuya. So he asked me if I would consider this church. I told him I would pray about it but really in my heart I was not very interested in the work in Jayuya only because we were already planning on starting a new work in Hatillo.
That same night, however, I could not go to sleep. I wrestled in my mind and spirit over the church in Jayuya and the great need for that work to go on. That night God laid the following verse of scripture upon my heart. Matthew 9:36 “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” The idea of this church being without a Pastor troubled my spirit. Considering the great need, God used the scripture in Matthew 9:36 to confirm in my heart that Jayuya was where God wanted me to serve in Puerto Rico.
So we made the decision to take this ministry and to make a long story short God confirmed to our hearts over and over again that this was exactly where He wanted us. The need was great. We were the ONLY Baptist church in this entire mountain and area. The Catholics, Charismatics, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have a strong presence in Jayuya. So we had lots of work to do.
When we arrived, we had exactly 9 original members to work with. Eventually, 5 of them left and we were down to 4 of the original members plus my family. We began working hard to evangelize the town of Jayuya, through soul-winning, visiting folks in their homes to give them the Gospel, street preaching, tract distribution, preaching in the plazas, in parks, basketball courts, etc. God began to work and souls started getting saved. The church began to grow.
As the Lord added to His church through the salvation of souls, there was a need to discipleship these new converts. So we started a Bible Institute to teach Christians the Bible and train men for the ministry.
One of the students God sent us was a man named Quito Padua.
Brother Quito was born with one leg. Because of this handicap, he grew up very bitter with life. He eventually became an alcoholic and a drug addict. The town of Jayuya knew him as the town drunk as he would sleep in the streets drunk and drugged up on heroin, cocaine, crack, etc. Quito was in and out of jail. During his 4th time in prison he became very ill and the doctors said that he couldn’t be healed and that he was going to die in that prison. This terrified Quito and as a lost man he began to beg God to spare his life. Quito began reading the Bible. Through reading the Bible, Quito found out that there was hope in the Lord Jesus Christ and that salvation was by grace through faith in the shed blood of Christ. So from his prison cell, Quito cried out to God to save him and God did! The Lord miraculously transformed Quito’s life and made him a new creature in Christ Jesus!
Shortly afterwards, the doctors found a way to cure Quito of his illness. Eventually he was released from prison. Quito began searching for a good church to go to. He started attending our church. He asked me to teach him how to serve the Lord. We trained him in our Bible Institute, as well as in our home through one on one Bible studies. Quito started participating in soul-winning and preaching on the streets. The Lord eventually called Quito to preach and in June of 2017 we ordained Quito Padua into the Gospel ministry. In August of 2017 we handed the church over to brother Quito, a national from this very town, and made him the new pastor.
The work that God did in Quito’s life, taking him from the streets of Jayuya, saving him in prison, changing his life, and putting him into the pulpit, has caught the attention of the entire town. Everyone in this town remembers Quito begging for money in the streets and laying in the streets drunk and drugged up. Now he is preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Everyone in Jayuya knows his story and recognizes the miracle God did in his life. This amazing story weekly attracts folks to the church just to see what the Lord did in Quito’s life. Under this national pastor, the church continues to grow and thrive. Glory to God!
More pics of the ministry in Jayuya, Puerto Rico below: