Many Christians, even believers who are born again at a young age, struggle to establish and maintain a personal relationship with Jesus. Many believers end up knowing about God, but they do not know Him on an intimate level. As unlikely as it may seem, pastors and church leaders are no exception to this struggle. Charis Bible College (CBC) graduates and full-time missionaries, Suzan and Miguel "Mickey" Cartagena shared just such a beginning to their ministry.
Suzan had been a Christian since she was six years old, and she had dedicated a lifetime to the Lord, serving her family and her church in Wyoming. Even though she knew about God, and had witnessed His power in her life, she still felt like she was lacking something—she longed for a closer, more intimate relationship with Him. Harboring this intense desire, she began to wrestle with condemnation and a sense of emptiness.
Mickey had served the church as a pastor for nine years, when he found himself searching for something more. Mickey had earned both Pastoral and Theological degrees, and was both an Associate Pastor and a Senior Pastor in North Carolina, and yet, he still had a longing in his spirit for intimacy with his Lord. His struggle brought him to the end of his rope.
In addition to their individual longing for more of God, some of life's harshest circumstances brought both Suzan and Mickey to the feet of Jesus. After thirty-five years, Suzan's husband and father of their five children, walked away from their marriage. Similarly, after thirty-five years of marriage, Mickey found himself alone after his wife went home to be with the Lord. Mickey and Suzan were both in need of restoration, and both had friends that introduced them to Andrew's ministry. Before long the two were enrolled in the same class at CBC Colorado.
It was at CBC, as they began to understand their identities in Christ that Mickey and Suzan found the intimacy with the Lord they had both desired. Over the time they spent at CBC, in the classroom setting, in Bible studies, and on the mission field during their second year, Suzan and Mickey were able to realize His plan for their lives.
Suzan knew, after her student mission trip with CBC, that the Lord had called her to missionary work in Colombia. After graduation she made the necessary arrangements to move to South America. At the request of her new roommate in Colombia, a woman who pastored a small church in the area, Suzan began teaching Discipleship Evangelism (DE) lessons. A pastor from another local church attended Suzan's DE meetings, liked what he heard and asked her to come teach at his church as well. Soon other pastors were attending her meetings and were pursuing her to share the DE lessons in their churches also. The requests to teach continued until she could not accommodate all of them. It was at this point, that Suzan turned to Mickey, whom she knew also had a heart for missions, and invited him to Colombia to help her organize the ministry budding before her. Mickey agreed to help, and he and Suzan's long-time friend and CBC graduate, Jerri Betts spent the next six weeks in Colombia organizing three groups of pastors, in three locations, and a teaching ministry was born.
Mickey returned to the U.S., but continued to help Suzan from afar. The ministry and their relationship continued to develop, and Mickey joined Suzan full-time in ministry and in life when the two were married in 2007.
As they continued to minister, Mickey and Suzan developed their own teaching program called Christians Seeking Identity. The Lord revealed to both of them that their experiences were not unique; that Christians everywhere struggle with their identity and intimacy, and that it would be their ministry to teach the body out of what had been revealed to them.
"The vision that God has put in our hearts is to “GO” where He opens doors in the USA and the world, to the pastors and leaders, and teach them who they are in Christ, so that they in turn, can teach their own congregations the same truths," said Suzan.
Mickey and Suzan have traveled extensively in the U.S., Mexico, and Latin American countries of Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Nicaragua, teaching “Identity in Christ” seminars to groups of pastors, Bible Colleges, and individual congregations. "God spoke to us that He would lead us to 'the few' that would be used to teach 'many',” said Mickey.