FLEEING the civil war in his native country of Nicaragua, six-year-old Luis Bermudez and his family trekked for 45 days through jungle to reach sanctuary in Costa Rica.
Mr Bermudez said his faith in God never wavered during the jungle trek and was the driving force behind him becoming a minister.
“Our parents were searching for a better life and embarked on a journey that led us to walk 45 days through the jungles of Nicaragua to our neighbouring country, Costa Rica,” he said.
“Through those 45 days we were able to clearly see interventions that could not possibly be attributed or credited to any human hand.
“These were the early stages of how faith became more than a theory to my religious experience.”
Eventually, he made his way to Australia and tomorrow will be ordained as a minister in the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Warrnambool.
Mr Bermudez said that upon arrival in Costa Rica, he lived with his parents and two older siblings in a refugee camp for a year before moving to the capital of San Jose.
The family applied to come to Australia as refugees and were one of only three families accepted after waiting for more than a year. He remembers arriving by plane as a seven-year-old.
“We were accepted in Melbourne as refugees in 1989 and on arrival we believed we had landed in paradise,” he said.
“My parents constantly reminded us that God had protected us and brought us here for a higher calling and that it was critical to stay close to Him so that we could understand what His purpose of us here was.”
Mr Bermudez completed a Bachelor of Education at Avondale College in New South Wales before taking up an internship at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Mildura.
“Never did I ever imagine that God’s higher calling for my life was to work full-time in the ministry as a pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, to be a witness for Him,” he said. “Today as I reflect on what my ordination means to me, I think it’s important that we understand first what it doesn’t mean.
“Being ordained does not mean that every other believer of my faith gets off the hook from their privilege and responsibility of being a living witness for God.
“On the contrary, my ordination to me means that I represent a larger group of believers who claim to be Christians and as such ordination reminds us all, that we have an enormous responsibility to represent God in all that we do during a time and generation when the kind of Christianity that the Bible calls us to live is radical and at times counter-cultural.”
Mr Bermudez and his family have enjoyed their time in Warrnambool so far.
His wife Alicia works at the special development school and his children Chloe, 13, and Jeremiah, 6, attend local schools.
He hopes they can live and work in the city at least until his daughter finishes high school.