Aaron Sanchez, a first semester student at Baptist University of the Américas, was given startling medical news last summer. He was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and told his spine eventually would collapse.
After serving eight years in the Army, Sanchez was asked to retire medically. He struggled with depression the first two months of his diagnosis. Some days, he could not even hold his toothbrush, he explained.
Despite the physical, mental and emotional challenges he was experiencing, Sanchez committed to emulate the Apostle Peter and step off the boat in faith by pursuing his call to ministry at BUA.
“It’s never too late to fulfill God’s calling”
Sanchez grew up in church and was passionate about music but did not show interest in ministry until he became part of the church worship band and later was discipled by his pastor.
Sanchez was called to ministry while in his mother’s womb, he insists. Her pastor prophesied that one of the six pregnant women in the church would have a son who would go into ministry. Thirty-two years later, Sanchez is studying at BUA to become equipped for missions and evangelism in tough places.
It is “never too late to fulfill God’s calling,” said Sanchez, commenting on his 14-year hiatus between high school and college.
His calling is not to the pulpit but to the field. Sanchez wants to minister in the places no one wants to go, even if it means putting himself in danger.
During his years of active military duty, Sanchez was deployed four times and faithfully evangelized in religiously hostile countries in the Middle East and East Africa. He initiated and led Bible studies with his fellow soldiers and prayed openly, prompting death threats from his interpreter.
After his medical discharge, Sanchez said, God opened the doors for him to attend BUA, which welcomes nontraditional students and offers an environment encouraging to students of any stage or background.
“Everything about this school is just phenomenal—the love and unity, it’s a big thing,” Sanchez said. “The fact that Christ is the center of BUA helps me plant my feet. I like that professors open and close [class] in prayer. It is an example that Christ comes first.”
Sanchez explained that the sense of community he feels at BUA is reminiscent of the brotherhood he experienced in the Army, but he says it is a lot deeper at BUA.
“All the honor and glory go to God”
Three months ago, Sanchez visited his doctor for an MRI. When he first was scanned last year, the autoimmune disorder was rampant in his spine, illuminating the MRI screen like fireflies, he recalled.
This time, his spine was completely clean and fully functioning. The doctors could not explain this miracle, especially since Sanchez stopped taking his medicine eight months prior.
“How do I get what you have?” asked his doctor, who is from the Middle East. Sanchez openly shared his faith, testifying of God’s healing and faithfulness. He told the doctor he would be studying theology at college and is going into ministry.
His doctor asked Sanchez to bring his Bible to the next appointment. Sanchez explained salvation to his doctor and led him through the sinner’s prayer.
“He gave a deep sigh after praying,” Sanchez recalled. “It was like a weight off his chest was lifted. If this story can touch him, I feel like it can touch anyone.”
Jaclyn Bonner is the communication specialist for the Baptist University of the Américas.