For ten years, from 2005-2015, Josué Pineda was a successful businessman—working in finance in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador—but he was not satisfied, even as he climbed the corporate ladder.
“I worked at very good companies, and everything was going well in the world’s eyes, but my heart was not satisfied,” Josué said. “My desire was for ministry, to shepherd the flock of God. So I prayed and prayed, but the opportunity to study and teach just wasn’t there.”
After a decade in the business world, Josué knew that it was time to either commit to theological training and full-time ministry, or stay in finance. So he started praying that the Lord would bring along the right opportunity, and he did something he’d never done before: apply to seminary.
“I started filling out some applications, but not to The Master’s Seminary,” Josué said. “I’d read several of Pastor John [MacArthur’s] books, but I wasn’t thinking about TMS until I saw a marketing ad saying that TMS was offering a Spanish/English hybrid M.Div. Because of that, I ended up applying to TMS first.”
What followed was a remarkable string of providences that made it clear to Josué and his wife that God was bringing them from El Salvador to Southern California. First was an acceptance letter, just two weeks after Josué applied. Then there was a scholarship that made seminary affordable. Finally, there was a last-minute, emergency appointment at the embassy and an unusually quick approval of a student visa for the Pineda family. All of that made it possible for the Pineda’s to come in the fall of 2015 to be part of the first class of Spanish/English hybrid M.Div students at TMS.
“We could see the Lord’s hand in every detail,” Josué said. “We sold everything back home. We sold our cars and our house to be able to afford everything, including the plane tickets and the two months deposit on our apartment.”
From day one of the Pineda’s seminary journey, the Lord used their new church, Grace Community, to provide.
“We came to an apartment the church fully furnished. That was just one of many provisions that, in sense, were part of our training as well,” Josué said. “Sometimes you think that the training is only in the classroom, but it’s way beyond the classroom. Coming here and being at Grace Community Church, when you leave the classroom, you’re in the church. You’re serving. You are moving chairs. You’re cleaning. You’re counseling. You’re preaching. The Lord has trained us not only theologically, but in practical ways as well.”
In that first year of the Spanish-English hybrid program, Josué was one of six students, each coming to TMS from a different country. Spain, Mexico, Columbia, Chile, Ecuador, and Josue’s native El Salvador were represented. Though small, the diversity of that initial class showed the widespread interest in theological education throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Over the past six years, Spanish education at TMS has grown from that initial group of six to over 200. Nineteen of them are part of the residential Spanish/English hybrid M.Div. The rest are enrolled in the Spanish-only Master of Biblical Ministry. That fully online degree—the only one available at TMS—enrolls students in 18 of the 19 Latin American countries. Spanish-speaking students also come from Spain, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States.
“This interest in theological training throughout the Spanish-speaking world started 10 to 15 years ago,” Josué said. “There’s been a revival of the doctrines of grace. Reformed theology and sound doctrine started growing and interest in them just kept growing. That is prompting people to pursues better training. So many throughout the Spanish-speaking world know they haven’t been taught well, that they don’t understand some of the basics of Scripture, so they start looking for resources.”
Over the past four years, Josué has seen this explosion in interest firsthand working as an admissions counselor and administrator in the Spanish department at TMS.
“It’s honestly crazy the impact, even through our Spanish social media at TMS,” Josué said. “And since we’re the only seminary offering a degree taught fully in Spanish, we are able to reach so many. Other seminaries have Spanish programs, but they are translations of English classes. At TMS, our classes are taught in Spanish.”
Josué is excited for the future of TMS and he sees massive opportunity as the school’s Spanish education continues to expand, and the seminary’s influence reaches into all corners of Latin America. He is also excited that finally, after sixteen years of praying and waiting, he will enter full-time, pastoral ministry. This fall, the Pineda family will leave their post at TMS to move to Hutchinson, Kansas. There Josué will shepherd a growing Spanish-speaking population at Grace Bible Church. As the Spanish pastor, he will serve alongside fellow TMS alum, Bart Horton and Steve Crawford.
“Pastoral ministry has always been in my heart,” Josué said. “That is what made me pray for 10 years. That is what I was passionate about when I was doing financial reports, talking to the CEO, and working in business. That whole time, I was thinking about the sheep. I was thinking about preaching and teaching the Word of God. That desire has never left. We see the need in Kansas. They have been praying for three years for a Spanish-speaking pastor. And in this opportunity, we see very clearly that the Lord is calling us to the pastoral ministry I have desired for so many years.”