Posted by: calloftheandes | November 1, 2012

Longtime Ecuadorian Missionary Found Radio Opened Doors to Needs of Listeners

Opening the microphone was, to Gonzalo Carvajal Sr., just the beginning. He grasped that communication is two-way as listeners react to what they’ve heard. He viewed this interaction as chock full of opportunity for sharing Jesus Christ one-on-one with people.

Gonzalo Carvajal Sr.

During more than two decades of service with Radio Station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, the radio pastor met with listeners seeking counseling as they faced life’s problems. On many occasions they put personal faith in Jesus Christ while talking with the high-spirited Ecuadorian missionary of HCJB Global.

Gonzalo Carvajal Montaño was born in Quito on Feb. 21, 1927. In 1948 he graduated from Colegio Liceo América, a high school in Ecuador’s coastal city of Guayaquil. He then pursued a business administration degree at the Universidad de Guayaquil, graduating in 1950.

Afterwards he studied theology, graduating from the Instituto Bíblico Bereano (Berean Bible institute) in Shell, Ecuador, in 1959 with a theology diploma. This was followed by a bachelor’s degree in theology in 1965 from the Presbyterian Biblical Seminary in Campinas, Brazil, where he also studied journalism, sociology and anthropology.

Gustavo Molina, a chaplain at Hospital Vozandes-Quito, recalls a long friendship with Carvajal, stretching back to times together at a Guayaquil church begun by missionaries of Avant Ministries. “Gonzalo was always passionate to share the gospel with everyone,” said Molina. “His wife, Violeta, and their three children have always been close with us.”

Gonzalo began leading churches in 1959, serving various congregations, including a Christian and Missionary Alliance church in historic Quito, another in a marginal neighborhood called San Carlos as well as Presbyterian churches such as Iglesia Cristo Vive (Christ Lives Church) in north Quito. He and his wife, Violeta, served with HCJB Global from 1973 to 1996.

Roger Reimer, who led the mission’s healthcare ministries in Ecuador for many years, recalled that “when I was a young missionary, Gonzalo was always an encouraging friend who valued the ministry of the Quito hospital.”

“Thinking back on the prayer meetings in the Quonset hut [on the HCJB grounds], I doubt that Gonzalo missed many opportunities for prayer,” added retired missionary broadcaster Imogene Booker. “All of us remember his burden for prayer, especially for the hospital. He wasn’t a doctor, but he had as much interest in the patients as any of the medical personnel.”

In the course of his lifetime, he learned through suffering, once noting that “the Lord has taught us many things through the illnesses that He has allowed our family to face.”

Other challenges—being raised by a Catholic father and a mother who was evangelical for example—served as growth steps, not stumbling blocks in his faith. He simultaneously embraced biblical fidelity with openness to dialogue with those of different beliefs.

At the San José Catholic Seminary for a meeting, he encountered a priest who recounted, “When I had nobody to hear me or offer hope, it was you that God used to put my life on track. When I go to serve as a priest in Cuenca, I plan to preach the gospel that you have taught me to love.”

Every spiritually oriented program aired on Radio Station HCJB brought the young seminarian to his radio as a careful listener. While Gonzalo loved times with fellow believers, his passion was to share the gospel in any venue. This was evidenced by articles he wrote for the secular media.

This tact, respect and diplomacy did not go unnoticed for Gonzalo who served as president of the Confraternidad Evangélica Ecuatoriana (Ecuadorian Evangelical Fraternity) for 20 years. He also presided over the Sociedades Bíblicas Ecuatorianas (Ecuadorian Bible Societies) and directed the radio station’s Spanish Language Service for many years. Two of the three children that Gonzalo and Violeta raised, Jerusa and Jesiel, attended seminary. Their oldest, Gonzalo Jr., studied engineering.

“The first thought that comes to me is that he was a statesman,” observed John Adams, a longtime associate in Ecuador. “His demeanor and his passion for the cause of Christ were noteworthy from the very first time you met him. His smile was evident as was his determination to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Missionary friends Doug and Darlene Peters said they remember Gonzalo as “an enthusiastic servant of the Lord and a faithful radio pastor known for his biblical teaching and counseling.”

“I’m not sure I ever saw him without a suit and tie,” quipped Adams, to which Ralph Kurtenbach added, “short of stature, he was always nattily dressed, topped off with a black beret on his head.” In his spare time Gonzalo liked gardening, reading and guitar building.

Gonzalo found his work as radio pastor fulfilling to produce programs with spiritual content and “feel a part of God’s miracle of salvation for those who sought counseling after the program aired.”

After a prolonged illness, Gonzalo died the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 30, in Quito at the age of 85. A wake was held later the same day at the church he had once pastored, Iglesia Cristo Vive, with a funeral held on Wednesday, Oct. 31. A retired pastor, Isidoro Guerra, recounted how he performed Gonzalo and Violeta’s wedding ceremony in 1959. Guerra, 101, drew laughter at his mentions of Violeta as “a child.”

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