Training Ministry Leaders in Latin America

Updates | Stories | Lives Changed

Nicaragua, 1995 – Rigo Reyes is twenty-two years old. He manages around 1,500 people. He has a wife, a good salary, and a lot of power for someone his age.

So, why is he destroying his life?

Young and Power Hungry

Rigo was born and raised in Nicaragua. He got married at twenty years old and held a high-ranking position at an international company. “I was young with too much power and money,” he says. The company would send him to different countries. He would leave home early and come home late. He became infatuated with alcohol. “My wife suffered a lot,” he explains.

In 1995, he was sent to work in Mexico. At this point his personal life was a disaster, and his marriage was in shambles. He wanted nothing more than to be alone, but he could feel God calling Him. He decided to say yes to God. He returned to Nicaragua as a Christian. At first, his wife was skeptical. It didn’t help that she was a devout Catholic at the time and Rigo was now claiming to an Evangelical and changed man. But God restored their marriage, and she too came to know Christ as her Savior.

Training Leaders

Rigo wasn’t interested in vocational ministry, but he knew he wanted to serve God. He began working with a Honduran Missions Door missionary. Then, he met an American Christian who quit his job in the United States to become a missionary. His story impacted him deeply, and Rigo became more aware of the suffering and needs of his people. He had never studied theology, but he decided to resign from his job to serve God full time.

In 2000, he was officially ordained as a Missions Door missionary. By 2012, he had planted thirty-five churches and was training 120 leaders. Missions Door appointed him as the Central American and Caribbean director. The Lord is using the skills Rigo gained from his professional past to serve Him.

BILD and Missions Door

Rigo helped cultivate the vital relationship between Missions Door and Biblical Institute Leadership Development (BILD). BILD seeks to provide affordable seminary education and training to pastors and ministry leaders in underdeveloped areas of the world. This is crucial because 90% of pastors outside of the United States do not have theological training.

BILD’s dean had heard of Rigo’s work, and then the former president and CEO of BILD got in contact with him. He asked Rigo what was keeping BILD from working in Latin America. Rigo explained most Latin Americans are not able to afford seminary. Nicaraguan employees make $3-5 a day, for example, and rarely find work. Unemployment is very high in these countries. BILD decided to give Latin Americans a 90% discount, a tuition of $400 a year. Some can even go for free if their needs are that severe.

Today, there are over 2,000 students in BILD in Central America. Rigo is now the international ministries director and training twenty-one key international missionaries. They’re key because they’re national leaders. BILD uses a Paul and Timothy model where every leader is training another leader. This is Rigo’s ultimate passion. BILD trains leaders in their own countries, just like Rigo trains people in Nicaragua.

Why Accessible Seminary is Important

When asked why theological training is important for pastors, Rigo uses the example of a machete. He explains that with a sharp machete, it’s much easier to cut grass. But with a dull machete, you’ll often have to whack at the grass twenty times harder. Seminary is like a sharp machete for a pastor.

Rigo believes the lack of accessible seminary training is having dire consequences on Latin America. This area of the world is, unfortunately, riddled with many denominations that don’t teach the basics of Christianity and even promote unsound doctrine. Without theological training, there are pastors leading churches who are confused about what the bible says. Lots of these pastors may not have bad intentions and need the kind of correction Priscila and Aquila provided Apollos, which is what seminary is.

There are also good pastors who lack the tools to effectively plant churches. Rigo compares them to farmers planting corn. They don’t know how to plant the seeds, how much distance the seeds should have from one another, what type of fertilizer to use, how to control the insects, etc. They may grow some corn, but those who know what they’re doing will reap a much bigger harvest. That’s what seminary education and training helps them do.

Leaders Training Leaders

In Nicaragua, BILD is referred to as BEE (Biblical Education for Expansion). Beyond seminary training, BEE provides vocational training such as welding, sewing, and salon skills. This is vital as many Nicaraguan pastors and their wives may need full-time work outside of ministry. And offering these skills to non-Christians is a form of outreach and evangelism as well.

Rigo has lived in Washington for two years now but is still passionate about supporting indigenous missionaries in rural areas. One pastor he’s especially proud of is Missions Door missionary Mario. Mario was the successful advisor of the president of Honduras. Rigo played a big role in his discipleship, and Mario ended up resigning from his good-paying job to work in ministry full time. Many Honduran missionaries were retiring, and many churches were dying. Mario helped recover fourteen churches and has around five new churches growing. He plants about one or two churches a year and is training over 100 leaders, including 25 key leaders. His wife went to be with the Lord this year, leaving him with his three daughters, but he is still going. Rigo would love nothing more than to see Mario get financial support.

Rigo believes his purpose in life is to train ministry leaders who train ministry leaders. He is extremely passionate about his work and covets your prayers for the pastors, church planters, and missionaries he’s leading. You can support Rigo through his page here.

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