In his formative years, Johnny Henry Llerena Zegarra enjoyed listening to instrumental music and reading Latin American novels and stories.
"I grew in Peru, in a strong Roman Catholic middle-low class family but when I was 17 years old, I had my experience of "warmed heart" at a Methodist church in Peru. After that, my vision of life changed tremendously and my interest was directed towards the books of the Bible, theology and, social sciences," Zegarra said. "I always enjoyed participating in church activities; I felt God's call for pastoral ministry," continued Zegarra.
The call to pastoral ministry motivated Zegarra to migrate to the United States to study at Duke Divinity School (DDS) in 2017.
"The United Methodist Church welcomed me as soon as I arrived in this country. Church leaders have given me their continuous support and have welcomed me as a local pastor in an Anglo-speaking congregation. The UMC has given me guidance and support for my cultural adjustment and the congregation in where I minister has welcomed me and my family with much appreciation and respect," continued Zegarra.
In 2018, Zegarra's wife and two daughters joined him in the U.S. Being the sole breadwinner for his family has been challenging for him but the staff at Duke Divinity School encouraged him to apply for the World Communion Sunday Leadership scholarship.
Your gifts on World Communion Sunday, supports the Ethnic Scholarship which enables The United Methodist Church to equip gifted, qualified students from around the globe to become the world changers God created them to be.
"The scholarship is a relief for my family budget because the health insurance that I pay for my family is very expensive. Now I can fulfill my ministry and my studies without worrying much about that payment, explained Zegarra.
"World Communion Sunday is working for the present and future of The United Methodist Church. Gifts to the offering support current and future leaders with a strong biblical and theological background," Zegarra said.
After Zegarra graduates with a Master's Degree in Divinity, he plans to become a pastor of a diverse congregation. "I hope to create new partnerships that link our congregation with the community and support the most vulnerable populations," said Zegarra.
Thank you for your generous gifts to the World Communion Sunday offering. Your gifts support World Communion Leadership Scholarships, the Ethnic Scholarship Program, and the Ethnic In-Service Training Program.
Elsie Cunningham, freelance writer, UMCom retiree, now living in Jamaica
One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, World Communion Sunday calls the church to reach out to all people and model diversity among God’s children. The special offering provides World Communion Scholarships, the Ethnic Scholarship Program and the Ethnic In-Service Training Program.