Dr. Jaime Pineda left behind a successful medical practice and his extended family to live out his faith, responding to a calling to help the poor in Corinto. He realized he had become increasingly dissatisfied in his family practice, and felt as though he was treating the same illnesses and having little long-term impact in the lives of his patients. He had a passion to make a real impact in the lives and families in the rural town of Corinto.
Corinto’s reputation of being a very dangerous place to live and work bothers Dr. Pineda and his wife, Patricia. It has even scared some friends and colleagues from visiting, and as a result, the Pinedas often feel isolated.
But Dr. Pineda’s experience with the people of Corinto has contradicted the town’s reputation. There are many in the Corinto population who are friendly, eager to escape the drug culture and open to the Gospel. There is a team of volunteers who participate in the programs of health education and spiritual mentoring.
Acts 16:9b is a Bible passage that had special meaning for the Pinedas at the time of their call to Corinto. Similar to Paul being called to Macedonia, they felt they were called to go to Corinto. They did not know all the details, did not know how they would have the income to feed their family, and they did not have the resources to carry out the ministry. But they knew they were called, and God would provide.
The Apostle Paul, along with Silas and Timothy, followed the Lord’s call to Macedonia. The vision Paul received was quite simple: a plea to come to Macedonia and help. There were no details on how that would be done. God provided the details later. Paul, Silas and Timothy suffered setbacks and potentially discouraging events during their time in Macedonia. They were beaten and imprisoned. But later, as described in Thessalonians 1, the results of their mission trip to Macedonia had great impact. The newly planted church in Thessalonica became a model to the believers throughout Macedonia and even farther.
The Pinedas followed their call to Corinto more than a year before the Luke Society provided support. That year proved to be a real test of their faith. They saw God provide through neighbors in Corinto who offered meals. And they saw God provide through friends and family from Medellin who provided financial help at critical times.
"God gave me a family, He gave me His love, He called me to complete His commands, and He called me to serve," Dr. Pineda says. "It means I have to give up my work for the world and depend on Him."
Dr. Pineda’s ministry in Corinto has many facets. Three days a week, he provides much-needed primary medical care to the community. "At the local level, there is one hospital, but the people don’t like it," he says. "It is not a progressive hospital. Many questions are answered by sending the people to the nearby bigger cities."
When he isn’t seeing patients, Dr. Pineda and Patricia are visiting families in their homes, hosting education workshops and training people in health.
One of the larger components of the ministry is soccer evangelism. Using soccer as a contact point with many children and teenagers, Dr. Pineda and Patricia are able to teach them many things in addition to good soccer skills – things like good health practices, sexual purity, life skills and biblical principles.
As relationships with the children grew, the Pinedas were able to understand the family situations of many of those involved. "The greater part of the children in the soccer school don’t live with the parents," Patricia explained. "Many of them are orphans. Some have only a mother. The normal is not to have a family. The children are living with the grandmother or other relatives."
Dr. Pineda formed a focus group of young teens when he first started his ministry. He asked them to discuss their needs and tried to motivate them toward growth personally and spiritually. "They are expressing the need to have an authority, someone to submit to," says Dr. Pineda. "They are very alone because there is not a family element here. The children and youth are very alone." He believes this breakdown of the family is a leading cause for youth selling drugs and girls getting pregnant. "We are very sensitive to them and their situations," Dr. Pineda says.
Another important aspect of their ministry is the community garden project. The Pinedas are educating people about the value of good nutrition. They have started several gardens and hope the interest spreads.
Moving his family to Corinto was a leap of faith, showing that Dr. Pineda was serious about taking his family wherever God leads. Dr. Pineda says, "God is the owner of our lives. He is the direction we travel. There is a flame that burns in our hearts for those that have not heard of the Gospel Savior, Jesus Christ."