“It’s such an opportunity that God has placed at our feet.”
Anibal Santeliz, pastor of the Annapolis (Md) Spanish, Bowie (Md.) Spanish, and Waldorf (Md.) Spanish churches, was ordained to the Gospel ministry on May 15 at the Bowie Spanish church. The bi-lingual Sabbath afternoon ordination service was officiated by the Chesapeake Conference officers and featured special music from Santeliz and his family.
Born in Venezuela, Santeliz worked for many years as a professional baker in his home country. As the political situation in the country became volatile, Santeliz prayed that God would provide a way for his family to live in the United States.
“The political situation in Venezuela was unbearable and communism could be seen on the horizon by some,” says Santeliz. “That made me afraid for myself and for my kids. I asked God for a miracle and God showed me Isaiah 54 as a message for me. I ended up with citizenship and so much more than I ever would have dreamed!”
Santeliz immigrated to the United States with his family in 2005 where he enrolled as a pre-med student majoring in biology at Union College (Lincoln, Neb.). After graduating in 2011, Santeliz was preparing to enroll in a master’s degree program to become a physician’s assistant, when he felt impressed that God was leading him in another direction.
In 2012, Santeliz began volunteering in prison ministry in the Nebraska penitentiary system. As he ministered to the prisoners and gave them Bible studies, Santeliz became impressed that God was calling him to professional ministry.
“I entered that secured room with heavy locked doors and I saw the hardened faces of those men who’d been beaten by society and evil,” he says. “I told them they were not what they seemed to be. I told them that the Bible says that they are children of the Almighty. They believed it! I know they did: I saw their eyes! I saw their faces change and I saw the working of the Holy Spirit in those men. Tears are running from my eyes because I know my Savior lives and is powerful to save! I had never seen that before. The experience inspired me to dedicate my life to God in ministry.”
Santeliz graduated from the Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University (Berrien Springs, Mich.) in 2016. Upon graduation, he was called to serve as a pastor in Chesapeake Conference.
Santeliz says the most rewarding aspects of ministry are studying the Bible, preaching and giving Bible studies, seeing people’s lives changed and seeing them give their lives to Jesus in baptism.
Santeliz is joined in ministry with his wife, Silvia, and their four children.