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Jaime Pombo Interview
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Watch video interviews at the end of this article.

I grew up in the city of Barranquilla, Columbia as one of four children in a traditional Hispanic Catholic home. I attended an all-guys school for 12 years. Every kid goes through their issues, especially during their teenage years. For me it was not so much drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. I didn't belong to a gang either. My challenge was bullying—being bullied.
 
In high school I felt a little held back because most of my friends were all interested in the girls and I didn't even know how to talk to one. I was ridiculed for that and also because of my weight at that time and the way that I looked. I was not somebody who people looked at and immediately said, “Oh, I want to be like that.” I was more like the nose and I got picked on. People told me that I was worthless—even my own teachers.
 
I was not only bullied verbally, but also physically. I can still remember, five guys surrounding me. I didn't know how to defend myself, so I just took the beating. They stole things and hid them from me. These were very painful times and I had nobody to really turn to for help.
 
I never told my parents what was going on. I didn’t have a good relationship with my brothers and sister. I would find refuge in pornography, my drug of choice at this time. During the temporary pleasure it felt good, but I remember feeling emptier and emptier as time went by. Like any human being, I wanted to feel loved and wanted.
 
I hid depression and that depression got to a suicidal point. My dad had a gun in his room. The gun was empty but I knew where the bullets were kept. I wanted to end my life because there was just no worth whatsoever. I thought I would be doing the world a favor if I could just cease to exist. I put the gun right to my temple, I thought, this is it. This is what I'm going to do—but a voice said, "Don't do it. I love you." I didn't really know God’s voice—I just knew Him as somebody that was very arbitrary; somebody that was just ruling the whole system but not really interested in me per se. The Lord started a healing process in my life. In spite of what I’d been through, He let me know that my life could be a blessing to somebody—that I had a reason to live.
 
When I graduated from high school, I had an opportunity to come to the United States. I was living near Forest Lake Academy, in Apopka, Florida. Pastor Alejandro Bullon was preaching a revival series there, and I attended and met the Lord. That was my very first interaction with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
 
After six months of Bible studies I was baptized. From there, I went to Southern Adventist University. I wanted to study community wellness—helping people to be fit and healthy. Two years into that program, I lost my passion for it. I wondered if God was calling me to something else.
 
Around that time, I made one of the best decisions that I have ever made—to be a student missionary. My friend Carlos and I, along with other fellow student missionaries, went to the country of Guyana, South America. What culture shock! We went from the comfortable United States to the very primitive jungles—from cars, fast food joints, comfortable beds, and air conditioners to hammocks, humidity! There was no electricity other than a solar panel that charged a 12-volt battery. We had to go down to the river to brush our teeth, bathe and wash our clothes. We ate rice and beans for a lot of our meals.
 
In that year, I first realized the joy of service. And it was in Guyana that I preached my first sermon. I wondered why the Lord was putting all these opportunities in my path. I sensed for the first time my call to ministry. I said, “Lord, I want to do what You want me to do.”
 
Back at Southern, I told the Lord, “I think You're calling me to be a minister, but if You have something else for me that's completely fine.” I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into. The Lord kept opening doors to pursue ministry.
 
I was in my senior year and a ministerial candidate. I was interviewing with the different conferences but there were challenges getting a call because I wasn't a U.S. citizen—I wasn't illegal—I had a student visa. I started to doubt my call—it seemed like God had left me stranded. I said, “God, I know You called me. I know You've opened the doors. Right now I just feel a little bit of a bump. I'm willing to go wherever You want me to go.” "Here am I, send me," I believed that was what God wanted from me. I said, “Lord, I am willing to go to the ministry. I'm willing to go as a missionary. I’m willing to go as a Bible worker. I'm willing to preach the gospel from the dumpster if You want me to, but I know that You called me, so I just pray that You can make it known where it is that I need to go.” I held to the promise in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that says God makes all things beautiful in His time—not mine.
 
I felt at peace—“that peace that surpasses all understanding” was in my heart. A lot of uncertainties remained, but it was peaceful anxiety—serene chaos in my heart. God rarely comes early, but He never comes late. I got my call two weeks before graduation! I said, “Wow, God, You're just so amazing.” The call was to the Gulf States Conference. That was in 2006, and I've been there ever since.
 
My greatest joy in ministry—definitely—is to be with people. I meet people from all walks of life. If I could pinpoint one joy mainly, I would have to say it is working with youth—teenagers, young adults, and those in-between. I see them facing a lot of the same challenges I did. I want to be that somebody they can come to, somebody approachable with whom they can relate. I want them to be able to say “So if he can have a joyful walk with Jesus, then why can't I.?” To see a young person involved in ministry, to see a young person give their life to the Lord, is one of the most rewarding things and it's what keeps my blood boiling for the Lord.
 
Of course there are challenges along the way. After three years of extensive pastoral work I unfortunately experienced a bit of a burnout. I had three English churches, and one Spanish church. The closest church was 30 minutes; the farthest, three hours. I felt the need for change.  I said, “Lord, what is it that I need to do now.”
 
I was really wanting to extend my education—to go to the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. I talked to the conference and they said, “We really can't send you. Your immigration papers are still in progress. You have a work visa, but in order to go up there you have to get a student visa. But if you get a student visa, then you are no longer with us.” I was willing at that point  to leave employment, but I wanted to see what God wanted me to do.
 
I talked to one of my colleagues. I said, “If I'm not able to go to seminary, they should send you.” He said, “Why don't we establish a deadline. If after camp meeting nothing has happened with your paperwork, then I'll talk to them and tell them to send me.” And I said, “Okay, fair enough.” In the midst of all this, I was at peace.
 
Next thing you know, I got a call from the General Conference telling me they had an immigration appointment. The immigration appointment went fantastically well—don’t know how many people can say that. Things were happening, but nothing definite yet. Camp meeting ended May 31st and I got my paperwork all sorted out on May 30th. “Wow, God, if this is not Your leading, I don't know what is” I rejoiced. God was shaping each step of the way—keeping me going on the path to ministry. After studying at the seminary, I got a call back to Gulf States Conference—Huntsville, Alabama.
 
While at Andrews University, I met the person who is now my wife. Michelle applied everywhere for a nursing job. You would think that a nursing job would be easy to find. She applied in Florida, Massachusetts, Illinois—all these other places and she was getting desperate applying even at prisons. But of all places, she found a job in Huntsville! That's how I knew that this was the woman that the Lord had for me. She's the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I could not do ministry without her.
 
When I was young I didn't know what it was like to have a relationship with God. It was when I came to the Seventh-day Adventist Church that I no longer saw an arbitrary God, but instead a God that was really after my heart. A God that really cared for every single detail in my life and a God that wanted to be a part of my life. So, that's one of the reasons why I'm so passionate about ministry. The Lord took me where I was, repelled those demons of doubt and gave me a meaningful and joyful life.
 
God is looking for a willing heart. God is looking for Isaiahs that say, "Here am I. Send me." I believe the Christian life is not a destination, it's a journey. It's not a sprint, but a marathon. The journey can be long, but God is always there to guide—and for that I'm eternally grateful.
 
 
 
Jaime Pombo - Short Interview
 
 

Jaime Pombo - Full Interview