Never Say Never: Answering the Call to Pastor

“Me, a pastor? Never!” I threw my head back in laughter. “I see what they go through and the sacrifices they make; it’s not for me!” 

pastor

“Me, a pastor? Never!” I threw my head back in laughter at the thought. “I will never be a pastor. I see what they go through and the sacrifices they make; it’s not for me!” 

Never say never.  

I grew up in a Hispanic church and came to Christ at a very young age. I knew God was real and I wanted to love and serve him. I got married and had three wonderful kids. I helped my husband with his auto repair business and served at Vineyard North Orange County Church in the food pantry ministry, handing out Bible studies to our Hispanic community and offering prayer. We eventually started to offer a Bible Study to continue to disciple them.  

A few years later, the Elder Team of the church learned of a conference about Spanish-speaking La Viña churches and sent me to attend. 

There, I saw passion. I saw a move of God’s Spirit. During the last day of the conference, I was up front praying and I heard the Holy Spirit whisper in my heart, “I want you to be a pastor. 

I thought, “Please, no! Pastors get thrown under the bus all the time and that is just not for me.” 

I’m embarrassed of that now. I wish my response would have been, “Of course, Father. Your will and not mine.” I resisted and put it out of my mind.  

Yet, while on the plane ride home, I got my notebook out to look over everything I had heard and seen and I felt like God was downloading a blueprint for a La Viña church plant to me. 

I could plant a La Viña within our church and ask for full autonomy. I could use the facilities and infrastructure to disciple Hispanic people to love God and serve him within the community. 

God said, “I have given you all of these gifts so that you can make disciples and leaders. Go and do it.” I ran to the bathroom and had, what I call, a Holy meltdown. 

I said, “Lord, I’m not asking for another job. My plate is already full.” When I calmed down, I said, “God, If you want me to do this, there are several things that have to happen. My husband has to agree, the Elder Team has to support it, and I have to be able to complete the Vineyard discernment process for planting.” I was confident that one of those things would keep me from going through with this ridiculous idea.  

I got home and spoke to my husband. He asked how everything went at the conference, and I told him what God had asked me to do. His response? “Oh, Honey! I think that’s great.” I was shocked! I was depending on him to bring me to reality and remind me of my responsibility to our teenage children and our business.  

Next, I had a meeting with the Elder Team. They were extremely excited and wanted to hear about the conference. I let them know of the plan God had given to me. To my surprise, they were ecstatic. They said, “That is exactly what we want, to serve this group and have them become part of the greater Church community. We want you to serve them as the pastor. We see the gifting God has placed on you. You have our full support.”

I went through the Vineyard process to plant with the La Viña church planting coordinator and,  after six months, I planted. Multiply Vineyard’s process was so helpful in supplying me with the tools needed to plant successfully.

During that time, my coach spoke these words to me: “Tell your people, ‘follow me as I follow Christ’”. That resonated with me and has stayed with me all this time. Being true to myself as a woman, wife, mom, and a Christ follower have been instrumental in fulfilling this call.

My small church now consists of many people who have limited church experience, who are new to their faith in Christ and new to church culture. We also have many people who have suffered disappointment and discouragement in their journey with Christ. It has been such a blessing for me to encourage them in their faith and  their experience as a Christian. 

The church has encountered God’s power, his grace, and even loss, yet we have seen God’s faithfulness in it all and look forward to having a greater impact on our community.  Learn more about planing Spanish Speaking La Viña Churches

 

This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.

Susanna Alio
Susanna or “Susie” grew up in a Christian home and her parents pastored a church in Tijuana, Mexico. Susie was ordained in 1998 through her previous church and later earned her Certificate in Biblical Leadership at Vineyard Institute. Her vision is to raise up leaders in this church and enlarge the kingdom of God in this community. Susie is married to Joe and they have three adult children, Daniel, Michael, and Mariah. Joe and Susie also own Integrity Automotive in La Habra.