Originally written by Jenny Castro, adapted by Marco Güete
In 1970, after a mutual friend introduced us in Cartagena, Colombia, we knew pretty quickly that we wanted to be married. Sandra was 19, and I, Marco, was 18 at the time.
I grew up moving around a lot, attending a variety of Catholic schools in Colombia and rarely living with my parents. Through these experiences I developed confidence in my own abilities and a sense of independence.
Soon after we married, I traveled to the United States to find work and establish myself, while Sandra stayed in Colombia. After reuniting eight months later in the US, we enrolled in evening technical and language schools. Sandra learned English and I studied IBM computers.
I was agnostic; we didn’t go to church. I didn’t believe in anything that had to do with church or God. But one day a neighbor invited her pastor over to talk with us. We were confronted with the gospel. That same day, Sandra and I made a decision to be followers of Jesus Christ. Eventually we were invited to a small Mennonite church.
After a year of deliberation and discernment, we took a leap of faith, sold our business in New York, and moved our family to Goshen, IN, for me to attend Goshen College. After I graduated from college, we moved to Illinois, and I enrolled at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard to finish my master’s degree in theological studies. We were young and had energy.
For a number of years, we worked as church planters in Chicago. I was also the new director for the Hispanic Ministries Department of the General Conference Mennonite Church. It was through this work that an idea popped in my mind. The idea would become the Instituto Bíblico Anabautista (IBA, or Anabaptist Biblical Institute).
In 1988, I drafted a proposal, outlining the first lessons of an instructional manual. At IBA’s 25th anniversary celebration, more than 1,000 people had finished the program and many were serving the church.
Sandra and I do almost everything together. Our projects have always been joint projects: ministry, business, travel, and many ventures. When we take risks, we do it together.
For 51 years, we have been taking risks together. In the ’90s, we returned to Colombia, where I served as director of the Latin-American Anabaptist Center (CLARA) and the Colombia Mennonite Bible Seminary. My name was on the blacklist of the Colombian military, because of the conscientious objector position of the church.
I have also served as Associate Conference Minister for Western District Conference and South Central Conference, Conference Minister for Southeast Mennonite Conference, and today I serve as a Leadership Minister for Mosaic Conference.
A life of ministry hasn’t been easy. There have been times when work required that I travel substantially, leaving Sandra at home with our children. “The hardest period was the teenage years,” Sandra says and laughs. “My kids were good, but teenagers are teenagers. And everything always happened when Marco was away.”
We enjoy our lives in Sarasota, FL — the work, the community of faith, and one another. The other day, when we were walking at the mall, I whispered in Sandra’s ear, causing her to laugh. “A woman came up to us and said, ‘Watching you two makes me believe in love,’ shared Sandra. She was surprised to find out that we’ve been married over 48 years!
We never finish learning. As we change and grow over the years, we fix some things and realize there are other areas we need to work on.
This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)