Celebrating the One Year Anniversary of “Towards Excellence”…
Your page, “Towards Excellence,” offers very warm and hopeful insight by showing the concerns of people who try to give their best to God and to humanity. It offers the reader a small dose of the biography of a person they may or may not know who invites them to reflect on how we invest what God has given us. We salute this page on its FIRST BIRTHDAY and our desire is that it continue showing the beauty of what is excellent when inspired by God.
José “Chema” Reinoso
Pastor and Social Communicator
“He swallowed his pride and went back home…Going back home means going back to God so He can rule and lead in your life.”
Pastor José “Chema” and Carmen Reinoso
Carmen and Jose Reinoso are graduates of the Latin American Bible Seminary in Costa Rica. Pastor Reinoso also holds a Masters in Communications from Wheaton College located near Chicago in the USA, and Carmen pursued Social Work Studies at the Catholic University in Quito, Ecuador.
They served HCJB “The Voice of the Andes” for 42 years in the areas of radio production and administration. During that time, they also served as pastors in the Iñaquito Evangelical Church. Both these ministries are located in Quito, the capital of Ecuador.
Since 2008, the Reinosos have been serving In Touch Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia in the USA. Pastor Jose Reinoso is the Spanish voice-over dub artist for Dr. Charles Stanley, the host of the In Touch program. He is also in charge of the translation and production of this program.
Chema and Carmen have been blessed with 3 children -Cindy, Nardi and Josué- and they have 7 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.
CECILIA: Briefly, tell me how you met and what it was that made you feel you were so right for each other that you decided to get married. And how long ago was that?
CHEMA: Well, we met at what I sometimes refer to as the “evangelical monastery” -I mean the Seminary (he laughs) in San Jose, Costa Rica. When I arrived, Carmen was already there; she was a year ahead of me. We started getting to know each other in that special setting. She was really about to conclude her studies but she was also helping out in the secretary’s office at the Seminary. I think Wilton Nelson was the rector of the Seminary at that time.
We’ve been married 49 years. We have 3 children, 7 grandchildren and even 2 great grandchildren.
So it was while we were there in the Seminary that something just happened to us. There was an affinity in our sense of vocation and a calling, and an affinity of love and a relationship between us also developed out of that perspective.
CARMEN: I think that one of the first things that happened was that we started out as friends and we got to know each other as friends. Then as we got to know each other better, we began to discover that we had a lot in common in many areas and God started changing our feelings for each other until… I was in my second year and he arrived for his first year, so we were there in the Seminary for 3 years because I stayed on an extra year when they asked me to help out until they could find another secretary. And I was very happy to do that! Taking care of him! (she laughs) I took care of Chema and he graduated in 1965.
I went back to Ecuador a few months before he graduated to prepare for the wedding. Then he came, and his parents also came from the Dominican Republic. We had a great time getting to know each other and they got to see Ecuador and see where their boy was going to live. They had to give a written consent for him to get married because he wasn’t 21 years old yet, and at that time 21 was when young people came of age in Ecuador.
CECILIA: Tell me about those areas of affinity that you say really got you started getting to know each other.
CARMEN: Well, since I hadn’t had very good experiences with regard to pastors’ wives, at first I didn’t think I’d make a good pastor’s wife although I’d always wanted to serve the Lord. So I told Chema that a pastor’s wife I was not going to be. And he said, “Well, think about it carefully, because I most certainly am going to be a pastor.” So I really had to rethink it!
CHEMA: A little astute about rethinking, don’t you think? (They laugh!)
CARMEN: Well, we had many opportunities to serve. The first year, he served a church where I had served the year before, so we had time to talk on our bus rides to the church where we were serving together. Later, I served at the Monterrey School, so he had to go alone, but there were many things in our service, our work, and our studies that we shared and we had a lot of time to get to know each other.
CHEMA: And also because she came from HCJB. I had only known about HCJB because I listened to the radio in the Dominican Republic where I’m from, but we shared a vocational interest in the area of communications and radio.
Then there was a kind of mini congress sponsored by DIA, the Inter-American Broadcasters, held in San Jose, Costa Rica, and representing Quito was Enrique Romero and Frank Cook.
Frank Cook is with the Lord now, and I think Enrique Romero is still living in Quito. Somehow they had heard about our relationship and they opened a door to see if something would develop and told us to keep HCJB in mind. And that’s exactly what happened when I came to Quito in November, 1965.
CECILIA: Okay, now let’s leave this very personal aspect for a moment. In this post-modern era, which in some places has become the post post-modern era, where we see that marriage is not necessarily the only option and we observe other options such as common-law marriages or even promiscuity as well as short-term marriages caused by separation or divorce. What message do you have for new generations after your 49 years of marriage? Is marriage, especially long-term marriage, still the best option? What would you tell them?
CHEMA: Well, there’s one more you could add to that list, and that’s the novelty of same-sex marriage. It all has to be considered from the Divine perspective. What has God established for a couple and for the home? Because the problem is that society tries to substitute God’s model, and when that happens, we start having problems, we start having difficulties. So when you accept the role of marriage, you accept it with the concept of “’til death do us part.” It’s not to be taken lightly like a Hollywood-type contract, because most Hollywood couples just sign a contract to get married and as long as it works out it’s okay, but when it doesn’t work out, then it’s over and they divide up the patrimony, la, la, la… From the Biblical standpoint, there is not such thing.
CARMEN: I think that God never makes a mistake and the way He designed marriage was for protection. In our case, so many years have passed and when we’ve come head-on with health issues, we’ve been there to support each other. I’ve been disabled for 10 years. For me, having Chema’s support is such a blessing, just knowing that I have someone my very own who is by my side walking with me through the difficult times! And God designed things like this to protect us, to help us and to bless us because He loves us. When we want to do things our way, that’s when things don’t turn out right.
CHEMA: And there’s another element to consider when you introduce the idea that short-term marriages and relationships of that type don’t have anything to do with God. A perspective of God also has another dimension that is eternal, because when He loves us, He loves us eternally through Jesus Christ. And the love He offers to humanity and to a couple and to every human being who has accepted Him as Lord and Savior is an eternal relationship.
This means that we don’t come to God and He says, “Okay, I’m going to love you up to a certain point or if you do this or that,” but rather than that, He loves with eternal love as Jeremiah says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” in Jeremiah 31:3. So this same concept applies to other relationships in life. A specific example is a person’s vocation and job. We have received that vocation from God. It’s not because you studied at the university -which does have its value, because maybe you have polished what God has given you a bit at the university. But it’s that you have to make what God has given you count for the glory of God and for the blessing of others, and that projection will last until God takes us into His presence.
CECILIA: Just in order to have a little context, Carmen, can you briefly explain why you said that the support of your husband in your disability has been transcendental. What kind of disability were you talking about?
CARMEN: In 2001, after surgery to remove a tumor in the medulla, some nerves were severed and my right side was left completely paralyzed. Thanks to God and the patience of my colleagues at Hospital Vozandes in Quito, rehabilitation over a period of 8 months helped me function once again with some limitations, but I could function. I was able to continue preparing radio programs and at home I can defend myself. I’m slower than before, but I get along. But everything that we’ve learned during this journey has been important. And I think that now at this stage I’m appreciating the support more because I can see how much I need it and can feel it is a reality in our home.
CHEMA: To explain a little more, Cecy, Carmen had a vascular malformation in the spinal column between the 2nd and the 7th cervical vertebrae. What does that mean? This malformation created pressure in the spinal column and without surgery, a pool of blood would have formed that would have resulted in the risk of total disability.
As Carmen said, in 2001, the first surgery was performed in Chicago, but it didn’t turn out well. She was more or less okay for 1 or 2 years, and then the problem returned. At first she lost strength in her right arm and leg. She would drop things or she would fall. Then the doctors at VozAndes Hospital contacted a neurologist at Stanford Hospital in California who studied the case and said they could perform the surgery. I remember it was February 2, 2004 when she went into the operating room. Well, first we talked it over with the doctor and everything was expected to go well, but we knew there were always risks.
The operation lasted almost 7 hours, but before she came out of the operating room, the doctor came out and explained what had happened. He said the malformation had been corrected but during the surgery some nerves in the right side had been affected. That meant that the movement of the right hand would not be normal. The right ankle needs an elastic or a metal support. She can move her arm a bit. But in spite of all this, Carmen gets around quite normally. Sometimes she uses a walker or she has a little electric car we got her. So we press on.
CECILIA: It will really be hard to summarize this, but based on your experience, what is needed in order to achieve a solid marriage, a “’til death do us part” marriage? Maybe you can share some personal anecdote to illustrate these tips.
CARMEN: I think one of the most important things is communication. Very often we haven’t been taught to communicate. Good Ecuadorian mountain-born woman that I am, I tend to be very diplomatic. And Chema is from the coast, very Caribbean. At first, we had a lot of conflict. I expected him to act differently. Finally, one of those days when I had most probably left him speechless, Chema said, “Mommy…” Because what we do when we’re angry is not talk. We don’t say, “Okay, what did I do now?” So I told him he had offended me and he said, “Look, Mommy, I love you but that doesn’t mean that I can read your mind. If you don’t talk to me, if you don’t tell me what I’m doing wrong, then how am I going to change? So talk to me and tell me what you want and what’s going on and then we can move forward.” Oh, how wonderful! Now the door was open and I had permission! (They laugh!) So since then, I don’t stay quiet. If something needs fixing, we talk about it.
CHEMA: That’s the problem! She never shuts up! (They laugh!)
CARMEN: We talk, we converse, we argue, and I’ll say that for me that has been the secret because then there’s nothing hidden, there’s nothing to fear, there’s nothing to worry about because we talk and I know his heart and he knows mine. That has helped us tremendously in many circumstances.
CHEMA: And respect is another value, respecting her as a woman and respecting each other. Respect is also born from the love two people share, but it matures over time. Much of the feeling of union in marriage doesn’t come so much from compatibility and the vocational sense as it does when each one finds satisfaction in what God has given them. In our case, we have been compatible in our radio and television work. Carmen was very involved in a magazine in Costa Rica. It was Inter-American Broadcasters. She was involved with that magazine and she has similar interests here at In Touch Ministries. Precisely, she helps us two days a week as a volunteer in a very key area with Spanish translations of some spots called “Moments,” which are Dr. Charles Stanley’s monthly letters. She also helps proofread the magazine and so forth.
Here in Atlanta, by the grace of God, we’re also helping in a church in the south where I preach twice a month and there’s a brother who translates, because North Americans who don’t speak Spanish attend that church. So that’s been a good opportunity. And there are some other churches that invite us to preach like Fuente de Vida where Joel Zaldumbide is pastor or Calvary Church where another friend is pastor. Sometimes it’s the First Baptist Spanish Church or some other one.
CARMEN: One thing that I think has worked well and that should be taken into account is that Chema isn’t egoistic. He’s aware of what I can do well, and although men usually manage the finances of the home, he isn’t upset because I do that or have done it as many years as I could, because he knows that’s one of my gifts. So if you can let the other person function according to their talents and their abilities without feeling threatened, I think that’s a blessing on the one hand and it’s also another little stake in the good foundation of the family.
CHEMA: What Carmen has mentioned is key for the couple to understand what each one can manage better. I’m not good with numbers. For example, now that Carmen can’t write the checks, I write them and do all that, but she keeps check on the accounts and sees if something’s wrong. She does the follow-up because I’m lost with that.
So in a marriage we also have to take into account who manages the financial area better and let that person help or take charge. Good communication between the partners is necessary. It’s key, really key.
CECILIA: Good. So now you have talked about communication, about respect, about letting the other person do what they do best and letting that person develop. What about the issue of different personalities and temperaments? What does a marriage need “until death do them part”?
CHEMA: Well, Carmen touched on this. I’ll explain it this way: I come from the Dominican Republic coastal area. We tend to be hot-tempered. She’s from the mountains, from Quito, Ecuador, where people are diplomatic. So we are direct opposites, but the fact that we are direct opposites doesn’t mean there aren’t bridges of understanding. At first, Carmen suffered a lot because I vocalized everything. I’d get upset in a split second and sometimes I’d yell. I still do, but now it’s less. So it was like that.
But we have matured and grown in the relationship, and we have especially matured with regard to what the Word says about a relationship of respect, about a relationship that allows God to begin to change one’s temperament -that is fundamental. We’ve had conflicts, we’ve had our arguments, we’ve had our differences -and we still have different opinions about some things-, but those differences don’t keep us apart. We just respect them, recognize them and continue going forward, nothing more, because no marriage is perfect. Those marriages you see on television -even pastors’ marriages- seem very nice and look like earthly angels sent from who knows where, buy they aren’t real! That’s just a utopia. So that has helped us understand each other and mature and go forward.
CARMEN: One thing I’ve always told my sisters when we’ve talked about this is what the Bible says about not letting the sun set without having resolved the problems you’re having with your husband. And I think that a long time back we started resolving or clarifying our differences before bedtime and that has helped a lot because if you can talk about problems, that prevents the development of deep-seated resentment that can slowly separate a couple. This should start when people are first married.
CHEMA: There’s something fundamental worth mentioning, Cecy. For example, Ephesians says that the woman is to be subject and the husband is to love. These two concepts run parallel, because subjection doesn’t mean that Carmen or any other woman is inferior to the man. It is simply an order established by God. I’ve always said that I earn the right to be the head of the family by my attitude, because if I don’t act in accordance with what God has established, there’s going to be constant conflict. And the other part is what we men aren’t careful about. Love for a woman is shown by respect, by support, by lending a hand, by accompanying and by renouncing dictatorial attitudes, because some men misinterpret the word and think subjection means submission. Submission is a marketing concept and is servile. Subjection takes place in the same way I am subject to God, to the Lord. That is clear and it is fundamental, because we are equal before God who has charged us with a task and we are to carry it out together.
CECILIA: You’ve already talked a little about this, but does God have a specific role in married life? What about people who don’t even believe in Jesus Christ and therefore God isn’t part of their lives or plans?
CARMEN: There are three in a marriage: the husband, the wife and God. Because only God gives the love and the wisdom that keeps a marriage united. I’ve witnessed marriages that don’t recognize God that more or less get by. They follow the rules, humanly speaking, but when times are hard or there’s a crisis, they don’t have anyone to turn to. That’s when those marriages fall apart. Having God as the center of the home is basic. At least, that’s how it’s been for us, and I think it’s that way for every couple because we can’t walk alone. As humans, we have so many faults; as humans we have to face so many circumstances in life that if we didn’t have God’s help, it would be very difficult to face them.
CECILIA: This blog is read all over the world, so who is that God and what is the true God following this context?
CHEMA: That’s exactly what I wanted to talk about. We’re talking about the God of the Bible. We’re talking about the God Creator of the Universe. We’re talking about the God who had the idea of the couple and therefore, of the family, and therefore, of the extended family. We’ve taking about the God who created us with a plan and with a purpose. We’ve talking about a God who is alive, a God who relates to us through the person of Jesus Christ. We’re talking about a God who, seeing us in our position as rebels against Him, as sinners against Him, took the initiative to rescue us in the person of Jesus Christ. That’s the God we’re talking about! The One who gave Himself in Jesus Christ on the cross
of Calvary in order to bring about our salvation and our redemption and reestablish communion of God with man and man with God. We’re talking about the God who really has a plan for the husband, a plan for the wife, a plan for the children, a plan for the family. We’re talking about a God who really has a plan for society. We’re talking about the only true God who lives, who exists, who rules over the heavens and the earth and who is weaving the threads of history into a conclusion of triumph where He will return in the person of Jesus Christ to establish an order on Earth. At present, you can see countries and political ideas trying to give the impression that they truly have the solution for humanity. And time after time, it doesn’t matter what political model it is, they have gone against the Planet Earth, even more so when they don’t recognize God in their schemes and their projections. We’re talking about the God who created the heavens and the earth, the God who is sitting on His throne and rules over everything as Psalm 103:19 says.
That is the God who unites us. That is the God we believe in, and that is the God we want others to also be in contact with.
CECILIA: What advice can you share with the readers of Towards Excellence, who may be facing a possible separation or a possible divorce?
CARMEN: I think a divorce or a separation is something very sad, not just for the couple, but even more so when there are children. When couples face these situations, the children have so many problems and traumas, and even when there aren’t any children, a little bit of the heart is destroyed and that’s very painful. And I think every marriage deserves the chance to get established, to find help, to not indulge in whims and egotism, to accept each other as they are before God so they can recognize their faults, because marriage is made or broken by the two partners, not just by one of them. Each one needs to recognize the weaknesses that are contributing to the destruction of their marriage with the help of a professional and of God so they really see themselves as they are so they can move on. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a hopeless marriage. There is hope for marriage!
CHEMA: One of the greatest causes of problems in a marriage is the egotism that Carmen just mentioned. Egotism always leads a person to blame someone else. So she blames me. In all marriages, a person usually tries to wash his hands of blame, and they say, “I don’t love him anymore” or “I don’t love her now,” so saying things like this encourages the idea of divorce as a solution.
The Bible sanctions divorce in one specific case -adultery, issues related to adultery. But when it’s for no reason at all or because she doesn’t cook rice like she used to or because she’s not careful about something -those are things that can be fixed; they’re things that can be discussed. But when I close down and think that things have to be the way I say, then we’re creating a one-way style that doesn’t allow for the kind of communication that can surmount the difficulty encountered.
When there have been differences, it’s often a good thing if the couple takes a little time-out, a kind of vow of silence, and during that silence they reflect individually. The Bible talks about having a time of prayer alone to seek God’s direction.
It’s also important to look for help. It’s never a bad thing to get help from a trustworthy person who believes in Bible values -not in human values, because that’s something different.
And if you do that along with some other things, you can work out the differences that arise. What you need is the desire, and when there’s that desire, communication can take place, you can look for help, and most of all, God is who is guiding us if we allow Him to lead.
CARMEN: If you have problems, if you have difficulties in your marriage, you need to begin to take a look at yourself and to look at God and ask Him, “God, what can I do to improve this situation?” I assure you that you’re going to find the solution, you’re going to find an answer and there’s going to be hope for your marriage. After a few years, you’ll look back and that breakdown or that difficult time is going to be simply a bridge where you started to mature and where your marriage set down the roots it needed to prepare you for old age, until God separates you and your children.
CECILIA: Finally, is it possible that this breakdown or desire to separate is an opportunity for a person who perhaps does not know God to look to God and an opportunity for God to respond and manifest Himself?
CARMEN: God can indeed use this experience!
CHEMA: Yes, yes! There’s the case of a young man, the prodigal son that illustrates this. Many marriages reach a limit and when that limit is reached, the experience is like that of the prodigal son who was left abandoned without friends and without money and he hit bottom. When you hit bottom, what’s left? You don’t keep digging yourself in deeper -it’s time to lift your eyes to God and say, “Lord, help me!” What did the prodigal son do? He started thinking and he said “I made a mistake! Why have I left my family? I had everything with them.” So instead of saying, “No, I’ll not go back,” he did the right thing. He swallowed his pride and went back home, and when he got home everything improved. Going back home means going back to God so He can rule and lead in your life.