Cesar Maricio Duran Gonzalez (MDiv ’14) leads in multiple spaces. Gonzalez is the Latino Chaplain of Colorado Rapids at Cross Training, Hispanic Ministry Coordinator for the General Board of Global Ministries, and the Hispanic Ministry Coordinator for the Rocky Mountain conference of The United Methodist Church. His path to ministry and all these roles is an interesting one.
Gonzalez grew up in Piedras Negras, a town that sits on the border of the United States and Mexico. He was raised in the United Methodist Church where God called him into ministry at an early age.
At that time my dreams were to be an architect, but God called me to the ministry when I was 17 years old. I knew what this meant in my context. This was a call to leave my home church, leave my family and my friends and I didn’t want it. I wanted to stay in my home church to be with my friends. I had everything there.
So at first, Gonzalez avoided God by avoiding the places, moments and times where he first heard the call.
I was the guy that was in church every day, in all activities. I was in charge of the teen groups and the teens in my district. I was very active. When God called me the first time in prayer meeting, I didn’t want to be in the prayer meetings anymore. And then when God called me while reading the Bible, I didn’t want to read the Bible. When God called me in the Sunday worship service, I didn’t want to be there anymore. So I arrived to the point where I didn’t know if I was inside the church or outside the church.
Gonzalez wasn’t able to play this game of hide-and-seek very long though. He remembers arriving at church one Sunday, after the worship service had already ended.
I just sat in one of the pews and I took one of the Bibles that I found and I opened it because I didn’t want to hear the message. I was checking the Bible and I found a bookmark with Joshua 1:9 on it.
Joshua 1:9 (NIV) states: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I read it. I said, ‘Oh, my God, oh my God, I am here. I accept it.’ I accepted it because I didn’t want to be fighting with God.
Gonzalez still did not immediately and fully respond to this call. He was 17 and just beginning college.
I said: it is too late to do something different. So, I would go on being an architect and maybe in the future I will accept doing something for God. I didn’t know what, but I talked with my pastor and he said, ‘I knew that I was waiting for you to talk about this.’ He gave me one address and he gave me money and said ‘go to this place and talk with this person and see what it is that God wants from you.’
I went to this address and when I arrived, I recognized that place was the John Wesley Seminary in Monterrey, Mexico. After I arrived, I talked with the director of the school. He said, ‘In two weeks we start classes and you have a place here.’
I said, ‘What? I’m already enrolled in college.’
He said, ‘You have two weeks to pray and decide. You have a place here.’
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