|Archive photo of Gonzalo Carvajal Sr. and his family.|
(Nov. 1, 2012 - by Ralph Kurtenbach and Harold Goerzen) Opening the microphone was, to Gonzalo Carvajal Sr., just the beginning. He grasped that communication is two-way as listeners reacted to what they’ve heard. He viewed this interaction as chock-full of opportunity for sharing Jesus Christ one-on-one with people.
During more than two decades of service with Radio Station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, the radio pastor met with listeners seeking counseling as they faced life’s problems. On many occasions they put personal faith in Jesus Christ while talking with the high-spirited Ecuadorian missionary of HCJB Global.
Gonzalo Carvajal Montaño was born in Quito on Feb. 21, 1927. In 1948 he graduated from Colegio Liceo América, a high school in Ecuador’s coastal city of Guayaquil. He then pursued a business administration degree at the Universidad de Guayaquil, graduating in 1950.
Afterwards he studied theology, graduating from the Instituto Bíblico Bereano (Berean Bible Institute) in Shell, Ecuador, in 1959 with a theology diploma. This was followed by a bachelor’s degree in theology in 1965 from the Presbyterian Biblical Seminary in Campinas, Brazil, where he also studied journalism, sociology and anthropology.
Gustavo Molina, a chaplain at Hospital Vozandes-Quito, recalls a long friendship with Carvajal, stretching back to times together at a Guayaquil church begun by missionaries of Avant Ministries. “Gonzalo was always passionate to share the gospel with everyone,” said Molina. “His wife, Violeta, and their three children have always been close with us.”
Gonzalo began leading churches in 1959, serving various congregations, including a Christian and Missionary Alliance church in historic Quito, another in a marginal neighborhood called San Carlos as well as Presbyterian churches such as Iglesia Cristo Vive (Christ Lives Church) in north Quito. He and his wife, Violeta, served with HCJB Global from 1973 to 1996.
Roger Reimer, who led HCJB Global’s healthcare ministries in Ecuador for many years, recalled that “when I was a young missionary, Gonzalo was always an encouraging friend who valued the ministry of the Quito hospital.”
“All of us remember his burden for prayer, especially for the hospital,” added retired missionary broadcaster Imogene Booker. “He wasn’t a doctor, but he had as much interest in the patients as any of the medical personnel.”
In the course of his lifetime, Gonzalo learned through suffering, once noting that “the Lord has taught us many things through the illnesses that He has allowed our family to face.”
Other challenges—being raised by a Catholic father and an evangelical mother, for example—served as growth steps, not stumbling blocks in his faith. He simultaneously embraced biblical fidelity with openness to dialogue with those of different beliefs.
At the Seminario Mayor San José (Catholic seminary in Quito) where he was invited to speak, Gonzalo encountered a priest who recounted, “When I had nobody to hear me or offer hope. God used you to put my life on track. When I go to serve as a priest in Cuenca, I plan to preach the gospel that you have taught me to love.” Every spiritually oriented program aired on Radio Station HCJB prompted the young seminarian to listen carefully to his radio.
While Gonzalo loved times with fellow believers, his passion was to share the gospel in any venue. This was evidenced by articles he wrote for the secular media.
This tact, respect and diplomacy did not go unnoticed as Gonzalo served as president of the Confraternidad Evangélica Ecuatoriana (Ecuadorian Evangelical Fraternity) for 20 years. He also presided over the Sociedades Bíblicas Ecuatorianas (Ecuadorian Bible Societies) and directed the radio station’s Spanish Language Service for many years. Two of the three children that Gonzalo and Violeta raised, Jerusa and Jesiel, attended seminary. Their oldest, Gonzalo Jr., studied engineering.
“The first thought that comes to me is that he was a statesman,” observed John Adams, a longtime associate in Ecuador. “His demeanor and his passion for the cause of Christ were noteworthy from the very first time you met him. His smile was evident as was his determination to serve the Lord Jesus Christ."
Missionary friends Doug and Darlene Peters said they remember Gonzalo as “an enthusiastic servant of the Lord and a faithful radio pastor known for his biblical teaching and counseling.”
“I’m not sure I ever saw him without a suit and tie,” quipped Adams.” In his spare time Gonzalo liked gardening, reading and guitar building.
Gonzalo found his work as a radio pastor fulfilling. He produced programs with spiritual content and “felt a part of God’s miracle of salvation for those who sought counseling after the program aired.”
Longtime friends Norm and Kay Emery last visited Gonzalo and Violeta last August while in Ecuador. “Gonzalo was then very ill; however, even though he couldn’t speak or respond, he would smile when something humorous was mentioned. We prayed together with thankful hearts for many years of friendship and service with HCJB Global and the Ecuadorian church. What great friends and faithful fellow servants!”
After a prolonged illness, Gonzalo died the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 30, in Quito at the age of 85. A wake was held later the same day at the church he had once pastored, Iglesia Cristo Vive, with a funeral held on Wednesday, Oct. 31. A retired pastor, Isidoro Guerra, recounted how he performed Gonzalo and Violeta’s wedding ceremony in 1959. Guerra, 101, drew laughter at his mentions of Violeta as “a child.”
Source: HCJB Global