“I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart when I was eight years old,” begins José Miguel, speaking from the dusty, walled courtyard outside a small church in Chaparral, Colombia. Now 28, this dark-haired young man with the infectious, gap-toothed smile can’t help but laugh as he thinks back on his childhood.
While other boys in his neighborhood were playing outside, young José Miguel was happily reading the Bible inside. He was only nine when he started preaching, and still has his notebook filled with messages from back then. “I had an insatiable thirst for God’s Word,” he says. “Little did I know then that God was preparing me for a future serving Him.”
Little did he know, too, that it wouldn’t be long before he could no longer read the words that gave him so much joy.
José Miguel was hit by a motorcycle when he was 12 years old, leaving him with only partial vision. Doctors told his parents that without surgery in the next seven days to repair a retinal detachment, their son would become blind.
Though they scrambled to get the money together, they didn’t have enough within the week. The operation did take place, but it was too late to save his vision. José Miguel was blind. Upon hearing the restrictions the doctor wanted to impose on his life, he knew he had a choice to make.
“He told me I could not be myself,” he recalls. “I had to decide if I would follow his orders and not live, or would I live fully? I prayed and knew what God wanted for me. I decided to live!”
José Miguel and his wife minister together. He knows many Scriptures from memory, but she helps him plan his sermons.
Confident that he was following the Lord’s plan for his life, the young boy stepped out in faith. He knew God’s Word and wanted to share it. “I started to visit different fields and farms to preach the Word of God again!” he explains.
Now a Bible League-trained church planter, he cries as he recalls those early years and thinks about his life today. “I’m not crying because I lost my vision,” he says. Instead, José Miguel describes the challenges he faced—and still faces today—as “beautiful.”
“God never left me!” he exclaims. “He has been so good to me! He transformed me, and I learned how to depend on Him. Nowadays, I still preach from my memory, but my wife helps me to prepare.”
Though he already pastored a church in Chaparral, situated in west-central Colombia, José Miguel longed to grow the church and the ministry. He just didn’t know how. He found what he needed in Bible League’s Church Planter Training program.
“Many pastors focus on finding a place where they can build a church. Church Planter Training reignited my passion for leading people to Jesus Christ,” he says.
Today, as a recent Church Planter Training graduate, José Miguel has established two new churches. One is in Chaparral and the other is in Florencia, a remote region to the south.
José Miguel is grateful for the support of friends like you who care enough to help church planters like him. “Please, imagine that you are right here with me because I feel your presence and support,” he shares. “The Bibles and training you gave are reaching people in forsaken areas of Colombia. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!”
In places where there are no local churches, and for growing churches eager to share the Gospel, Bible League International provides resources and training for church planters. We help train and encourage students who are eager to show God's love, in remote areas and the world's busiest cities, so they can teach others and care for the spiritual needs of their communities.