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Phillip Guerena Sr.

Dying but living again
 
When I was eleven years old I was in a hospital in Los Angeles, California where my mother was dying.  Since I was the oldest of her three children the doctors told me that my mother was going to die and that I must be prepared to face life without her.  Our father had abandoned us and returned to Mexico some seven years prior to this moment.  Mom had to work to support us and we were left to fend for ourselves.  Our grandma helped some but mostly we were on our own.  In my desperation and wounded spirit that mom was leaving us I ran into the hospital chapel.  I got down on my knees and begged God to heal her.  I said I would do anything for Him if He only would heal my mother.  She was completely and miraculously healed.  There was more than 40 years of life that she experienced.  
My promise to God was easily forgotten and I paid no attention to what I said in my moments of anguish.  There were many times grandma took me to her church until I became a rebellious teenager.  Even though I heard the message of a loving God who wanted to bless me with His will, I chose mine instead.  
Then I had to face my Maker and allow Him to direct my paths.  This was done when I was seventeen years old and wrecked my car into the car of a Grace Brethren student preacher.  He took me to his church where I again heard the same message that was given to me at grandma’s church.  Since I was born in Los Angeles, California I am a U.S. Citizen.  But also I am a Mexican national through my dad.  I once carried two passports but now I only have one.  I lived in Mexico City twenty years where I claimed my Mexican nationality but at the same time maintained my U.S. citizenship.  
 
I attended the Bible Institute of Los Angeles-Biola- where I graduated in 1957.  There I met the best Christian lady I ever met and married her.  We have now been married for 58 years and have three Christian children and four Christian grandchildren.   She is Amy Petter, now Guerena, who is from Montana and came from a very dedicated Mennonite family.  Her grandfather, Dr. Rudolph Petter came from Switzerland and translated the Bible in the Cheyenne Indian language.  Amy’s parents were missionaries among the Cheyenne.  Her dad was in WWI and graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 1923.  The things Amy brought into our lives made our home a very well-adjusted home even though I came from a very dysfunctional one.  She brought us music.  She is a musician, a loving, forgiving person, and very family orientated.  She is ever reading and ever learning.  Her favorite Book is the Bible which became the Book of our family, as well as, our lives. Without her our home was doomed to fights and anger without end.  We both graduated from Biola the same year and were married in Lame Deer, Montana July 14, 1957.  From there we went to Grace Seminary where I graduated in 1960 with a Master’s in Divinities.  We spent one year in Montana where I pastored one of the Cheyenne churches her grandfather started.  I quickly learned about riding horses and being a cowboy and eating rocky mountain oysters.  Hunting and fishing were normal every day routines.  
 
At Biola, it was in downtown Los Angeles then, we had to have a Christian service assignment.  Skid Row was but a few walking blocks away and I started preaching at the age of 18 to the very lost.  I was truly amazed at the power of the Word in seeing many of these “winos” converted and getting into churches and into normal society.  We used to call them “winos” because they got up every morning and begged money for a cup of coffee and then went and baught cheap wine.  After that I saw not only alcoholics converted and reformed but drug addicts, gang members and violent individuals, many of whom became great Christian workers and even pastors.  The ministry of the Word of God is still going on not only through my ministry but through our children and grandchildren.  We have pastors in our family through Amy, to the fifth generation.  
While I was at Biola we got involved in sports and ended up going to Mexico and other Latin American countries playing sports and sharing the Word of God.  That is how we got to Guatemala and Cuba and there we helped start churches.   
 
After seminary I finally went to Mexico City with the Grace Brethren Church.  I studied two masters at the National University of Mexico City, Spanish literature and Mexican History.  I even became a teacher there teaching English, both Amy and I did that.  We got to start churches in Mexico, Guatemala, and Los Angeles, Ohio and also helped some do the same in Cuba.  While I was in Mexico I became very good friends with one of the best evangelist and Christian workers I have ever met, Juan Isaias.  He is a graduate of SETECA, Seminario Teológico  Centro Americano, in Guatemala, Guatemala.  What a tremendous ministry he had in church music for Latin America, as well as, helping many people in many Latin countries start churches and produce many disciples.  He started two camps in Mexico as well as the Christian Magazine-Prisma. Juan encouraged me to write in his magazine.  I think I have written more than 350 articles and one book which I hope to publish soon. Many of these articles were written for a local Columbus, Ohio Hispanic weekly newspaper.  I remember the first article I wrote and that he edited.  I think I only recognized the title and my name as the author.  That is how much editing I needed in my writings when I first started.  I still write, however, I still utilize good editors to polish all of my writings.   Juan and his wife were, especially her, were excellent editors and writers.  They started annual conferences for aspiring Christian writers.  I attended one and was greatly instructed and helped.  Needless to say, God really blessed me a lot in my friendship with Juan and Liz Isaias.  What a wonderful example of a Christian home, worker, father and mother.  I am glad to be one of his thousands of disciples.   Now, from a dying mother to a living hope and minister of the Word of life I find myself at this point in time.   I officially retired from the pastorate while at Northwest Chapel in August of 2015.  But I am starting a Foundation, GREATER BENEFITS FOUNDATION, where I envision raising money through my writings and whatever other means God provides.  The foundation will be for the purpose of providing benefits to those who have no benefits.  God has given me many good co-workers and disciples to help in all that I do.  Though God has allowed me to have many excellent disciples and helpers, I must thank God that probably some of the best disciples that I have are my children and grandchildren.
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