Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hearts Strangely Warmed - Miguel Arenas-Herrera



God calls us to tell our story so that others may come to know Jesus Christ. “Hearts Strangely Warmed” was created to share these stories about transformational encounters with the Living God.


Miguel Arenas-Herrera

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, 
before you were born I set you apart.” —Jeremiah 1:5a NIV

The words of the Lord to Jeremiah are deep words of trust and obedience in my life. I was born and raised in a Christians Methodist environment. I am part of this distinctive group called “PK’s.” I would say that I was a “double PK” by my parents both being ministers. My life was always involved in church.

Itineration became part of my routine, and during that time I met many people who shaped and helped me during my journey while we were traveling all along the extensive and narrow geography of Chile, my native country. For thirteen years I saw God’s action in the life of my parents’ ministry and in our family, but it was not until a youth retreat that I surrendered my life to Christ and I experienced my “heart strangely warmed.” It was not just my parents’ experience of faith, but it was my personal experience with God, so real in intimacy and closeness. I gave my life to God in full.

I became a strong lay leader in my national church, and in the Latin American ecumenical church; but there was something missing in my young life. I could hear the outer call from many people encouraging me to go into ministry, but I was really running from God’s invitation, and bringing excuses, as the prophet Jeremiah said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” (Jeremiah 1:6). I tried to escape this call by keeping my life busy, doing other things away from ministry.

First I earned a degree in education and I became an ESL teacher. That was a good way of keeping God happy! I was serving … but the emptiness was still there, and I could still hear the outer call from many. After seven years of teaching in my country, I got an invitation from the General Board of Global Ministries to become a missionary. This was certainly an answer to calm down this call. I was going to serve in a better capacity. I was almost sure that God would be satisfied with my decision. I served for seven years as a missionary to Uruguay, as an ESL teacher and chaplain in Crandon School.

However, God had something else for me that I was not counting on. God’s sense of humor went beyond my own excuses!

I was called by the Uruguayan Methodist Church to serve as a local pastor in a location where a church needed to be re-opened. I accepted the invitation. It was there that God brought my outer call and my inner call together, and I could feel my “heart strangely warmed” so intensively in my life. God took me away from my family, from my country, from my culture, to experience his presence on a strange land; through the wonders of God’s love, through the people of the city of Paysandú, Uruguay, through Renacer Camp Center, Montevideo Central Methodist church, and through many other people who became part of my journey of faith. From being a minister of the smallest church in the country, I became the pastor of the largest church in the country, and God was there. I accepted his invitation to follow Him as a servant, and go to the next step.

I moved to the United States to serve as a student pastor while I was studying to earn my M.Div. from Wesley Theological Seminary. Since then, God has moved many people in this conference who have journeyed with me, being a blessing in my life. In my time here I have served in Stevens Emmanuel UMC, Harrisburg, [Hispanic Ministry], Oakdale and Big Spring UMCs, Shippensburg, and now in Fourth UMC in York.

This past Annual Conference I was commissioned as a provisional elder, and I am working toward my ordination.



But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 1:7-8)


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