Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you.— Deuteronomy 5:33
When I began feeling the call to ministry, I asked myself, Why me? Why at this stage of my life, near retirement? And can a woman even pursue pastoral ministry in my denomination? The answer to that last question is complex. Even now in the 21st century, it is still controversial, both in the church and outside it.
Yet in January 2015, after God’s confirmation and much reflection, I enrolled in the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, accepting the challenge to walk in obedience.
While I was walking with God on the journey of faith, questions continued to bombard me. But the Holy Spirit revealed God’s words, reassuring me that answers would be found neither in an ecclesiastical society shaped by patriarchal ideas nor by those with finite minds. Instead, answers lay in the power of the God who issued my call.
Two years later I started to face the reality that, because of my age, my denomination was having doubts about accepting me as a candidate for pastoral ministry. I also learned that although my denomination does have some women in ordained ministry, we are not encouraged to pursue this calling.
I started feeling distressed by the ministerial process. Sometimes I wanted to quit, but then God revealed himself through the words of one of my professors, Rev. Gerardo Cintrón. Out of nowhere, he asked me about my progress toward ministry. I explained my situation, and these were his words: “I have witnessed that you are a servant chosen by God, with great potential, and you will be an excellent pastor. Go ahead and enjoy the moment and the time studying in this beautiful community that is this seminary.”
These words are etched in my heart, and although today the struggle toward ministry continues, his words were the motivation I needed to succeed. I graduated cum laude in the class of 2019 and was recognized with the “Spirit of Community” award.
Today I thank God for the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, for its mission, and for accompanying students on their journeys.
Damaris Torres Rivera is project manager at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico.
ILLUSTRATION BY KAROLIN SCHNOOR