By: Heather Cox
Rodrigo Azofeifa is the pastor at Vida Nueva Wesleyan Church located in DeKalb, Illinois. Azofeifa completed his M. Div. degree from Indiana Wesleyan University in April of 2014.
According to Rick Carder, Director of Alumni and Church Engagement for IWU, Azofeifa is currently working on doctoral studies and is also providing educational services through Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University. Carder said Azofeifa has always been very intentional with his ministry, and has always been a positive person.
“He has an affectionate laugh and smile.” Carder said. “He is always friendly and goes out of his way to make others feel good about themselves. It’s no wonder that his ministry is attractive.”
Carder considers Azofeifa’s best characteristics to be his leadership ability. He said Azofeifa is always warm and welcoming, and never pushy.
Azofeifa’s church, Vida Nueva Wesleyan Church, is primarily made up of first generation immigrants, and close to 80% of the congregation lives under the poverty line. Due to this, Azofeifa said the congregation is unable to develop their ministries with more efficiency, because of the lack of financial investment. In addition to pastoring Vida Nueva, Azofeifa also works a full-time job outside of the church.
Azofeifa said being a pastor is not an easy job, but in it he finds joy and satisfaction.
“My greatest satisfaction is when I see marriages rebuilt and lives restored living a closer relationship with their Creator,” Azofeifa said. “My slogan as pastor and teacher is ‘teach the word of God in a simple way, simple in order that everyone can understand.’”
For Azofeifa, his relationship with Hugo Magallanes from Wesley Seminary has greatly impacted his ministry. Azofeifa said Magallanes has helped him expand his vision for his ministry, specifically by helping him see that his congregation was beginning to go through a transition process from being a church of mono-ethnic culture, to being a bicultural, bilingual congregation.
“Because of this process of change, I realized that we could no longer efficiently serve our congregation and community if we continued with the old ministerial style,” Azofeifa said. “A new way to do ministry was necessary to serve our community of faith and surrounding neighborhood.”
As a result of this expanded vision, Azofeifa’s congregation partnered with DeKalb Wesleyan Church to merge as a multicultural ministry, with their mission being to reach their ethnically diverse community with the Gospel of Christ. Azofeifa considers serving a multicultural, bilingual community a blessing.
“This model of ministry allows us to work together and share different type of resources, as human resources, financial or facilities, in order serve in the best way our community,” Azofeifa said. “I believe this partnership is breaking all the previous parameters for ministry, we are setting a new way to do ministry for our church today and the future.”
Another aspect of Azofeifa’s ministry includes “Freeing the Captives Ministry”. This ministry was created for people who have been sent by the Judicial System of Azofeifa’s county to perform community service hours within the community.
“It [Freeing the Captives Ministry] has allowed me to present the Gospel to these people. Many of them have received Jesus Christ as their Savior,” Azofeifa said. “I had the privilege to baptized those who received the Lord through Libertando a Los Cautivos, “Freeing the Captives,” and also the whole members of their families.”
As for giving IWU students advice, Azofeifa has two things to say, “I always say that the key for a successful and thriving ministry has two elements; first a healthy spiritual life and second, a very solid academic background, and IWU helps their students to fulfill both areas.”
Written by Heather Cox, guest writer for the Alumni Office. Heather is a Junior Journalism major at IWU. She is also the Editor of GrantCOnnected.net, a community news site run by IWU students. She is unsure of where life will take her after college, but she knows she never wants to stop writing!