Joshua Aguilar is a member of Southwestern Adventist University’s Class of 2019. He is now the associate pastor at McAllen Central Spanish Church as well as a 9th grade Bible teacher at South Texas Christian Academy. Below he shares the journey that led him to study theology at SWAU to pursue a career in ministry.
Ever since I was a child, I have felt God’s calling for me to become a pastor. My father was a pastor until he passed away in a car accident in 2002, leaving my younger sister, brother and me fatherless and my mother a widow. With the help of God, my mother raised all three of us by herself. Her selflessness inspired me to make a difference and pursue ministry. Southwestern Adventist University helped me begin to fulfill my calling as a pastor and as a disciple of Christ. If it were not for SWAU and God’s guidance, I would not be where or who I am now.
In 2016, I answered an altar call to go into ministry. I remember during that altar call I could hear God telling me, “I want you to come work for me.” In that moment, nothing mattered to me except God’s will. Up to that point, I had never heard of SWAU, much less considered attending. At the time, I was studying to become a nurse. Little did I know how my life would change after answering that altar call.
My plan was to finish my degree in nursing and to work as a pastor later in life. However, the following Monday, I received a phone call from a SWAU enrollment counselor inviting me to tour the campus. Even though I had never heard of Keene, I agreed. God began opening doors for me and within a week, I was enrolled in classes and living in Miller Hall. I found a way to pay my tuition, and every roadblock was removed. Throughout that entire transition I had a peace and an assurance that I was following God’s voice and calling upon my life.
As I look back on my experience, I cherish many memories and lessons from SWAU. One of my favorite memories was being on a basketball intramural team with my friends. After games we would all finish the night off with Taco Bell or some other fast food in the area before returning to campus to study. Another was working as a CORE counselor and welcoming new Knights to SWAU.
Aside from memories, I also gained important life lessons. Canvassing during the summers taught me humility, being on the Southwestern Acrobatic Team taught me the importance of teamwork and being the Student Association Ministries Vice President expanded my leadership skills. Additionally, working as a pastoral intern for local churches gave me confidence and lifelong friendships.
Everyone at SWAU, from professors to enrollment counselors to administration, have their hearts set on sharing Christ and delivering the best education possible for all the students. I will forever be grateful and thankful to all the staff and professors that God used to mold me and equip me with all the tools necessary to be an effective leader, teacher and pastor.