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Javier Chavez answers call to serve God during college
Gainesville resident spends 13 years as pastor in his native country of Peru
Javier Chavez is the pastor of Amistad Cristiana, a new Hispanic church on Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville.

Javier Chavez came to the United States for one purpose: to study social sciences and religion at Lee University in the mid-1990s and become a college professor.

He answered God’s call instead.

“I was called, not necessarily to be a pastor, but I was called to serve people,” he said.

Therefore, Chavez moved to Chicago to earn his master’s degree. There he married his wife, Noell. Then the couple were on their way to Princeton where Chavez could continue his studies when the newlyweds decided to take a year off and go to Peru on a mission trip.

“I got to love (the people) to the point that I was able and capable to leave Princeton and become a jungle pastor and a jungle missionary,” Chavez said.

Long story short, the Chavezes didn’t return to the U.S. for 13 years.

“I became a pastor when I lived in (Peru) for many years,” he said. “That’s where I learned to be a pastor. That’s when I learned to love people.”

In the Peruvian jungle, the Chavez family grew with the birth of four children. At the end of 2013, the family of six finally returned to U.S. soil, eventually settling in Gainesville.

In addition to his duties as pastor at Amistad Cristiana, Chavez is the leader the Latin American section of World Mission, overseeing missionaries like he was years ago.

Chavez originally planned to move his family to the company’s home base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but Gainesville had hold of his family. He said they love the Hispanics in Gainesville and couldn’t leave. Chavez said the city is very religious and people are open to hearing about God.

He’s concerned, however, maybe people aren’t spiritual enough.

“It’s about making God the lord of your life, the lord of your relationships the lord of your work, the lord of your future and the lord of your dreams,” he said. “If you make him lord of those areas, you want to treasure and you want to control. Just give Him control. He is going to not only bless you, but he is going to open doors.”