Juan Carlos Racines Nunez always dreamed of becoming a commercial pilot. The idea of getting people where they needed to go thrilled him. For six years, he lived his dream. He loved every minute.
But in 2008, Juan Carlos visited a rehabilitation center with his church, and that experience changed his life forever.
“When I looked at those young people suffering because of drug abuse, I felt a burden for them,” he says. “From then on, I changed my lifestyle and left my career to become a full-time pastor. Now, I am a pilot in a different way — I carry people every day to Jesus’ love.”
Juan Carlos works as a pastor with his local church and serves as president of an organization called Camino de Vida (Way of Life) Foundation, which serves at-risk youth in urban areas of Ecuador.
“These communities are seriously impacted by problems such as drug abuse, alcoholism, gangs, contract killing, drug dealing, and sexual abuse,” Juan Carlos says. “The work we are doing is about sharing the Gospel and providing new leaders the proper tools to lead and serve their communities.”
Juan Carlos equipped 26-year-old, J, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in March 2022. J’s story is one of sorrow and redemption: He was sexually abused as a child like many of the people Juan Carlos comes across in his ministry. But J’s neighbor talked to him about the love of Jesus and brought him to church. J chose to follow Jesus and now, decades later, is working with young people involved in gangs, drug deals, and “contract killing.” In March, J gathered almost 30 gang members together and shared the Gospel with them.
Like Haggai International, Camino de Vida equips Christian leaders to impact their own communities, creating exponential impact.
“We prepare youth leaders to lead small groups, counsel their peers, and give them strategies for sharing the Good News,” Juan Carlos says. “These new leaders are ready to reach young people and offer them an alternate path — we are actively working to prevent suicide, cutting, drug use, bullying, and premature pregnancy.”
Juan Carlos’ 2019 Haggai Leader Experience (HLE) gave him the tools to continue in his work, but it also enlarged his vision. Since completing the HLE, Juan Carlos began traveling to indigenous communities to share the Gospel with young people there.
“I left the HLE full of passion, renewed, and with a refreshed faith, not only for continuing my ministry but also for extending my influence in my country,” he says. “I am a leader. God called me to influence and communicate His Gospel, and this experience empowered me to reach out to people I never could’ve imagined.”
Written by Jill Clair Gentry