A Child of Pentecostal Pastors

Dr. Wilmer Estrada Carrasquillo, a child of Pentecostal pastors, was raised on the island of Puerto Rico. At youth camp at age 14, he heard the words, “God is calling you into ministry.”

He played in the worship band for 10 years. He was a youth pastor, an associate pastor, a district pastor, and a youth and discipleship leader. “That took me into the pastorate,” says Dr. Estrada Carrasquillo. His bishop asked him to take a three-month pastoral appointment, and three months became three years.

Estrada Carrasquillo’s parents had taught him how to preach. But what he found challenging, as a new pastor at age 27, was sitting in an office advising people older than him about their difficulties with marriage and children, “giving life lessons to people one on one.” This led Estrada Carrasquillo to want to further his studies.

Estrada Carrasquillo and his family relocated to the United States, where he earned his M.Div. at Pentecostal Theological Seminary. During a class on missions, a professor assigned him to read Dr. Christine Pohl. “She just completely moved me,” Estrada Carrasquillo says of her work on hospitality. He found Dr. Pohl on the faculty page of Asbury Seminary and wanted to be there.

Finding Dr. Christine Pohl

When Estrada Carrasquillo graduated with his M.Div. in 2013, the people in his life talked with him about doing a doctorate. “Do I have the possibility to do this kind of work?” he asked himself. Those around him told him he did. He applied and was accepted into Asbury Seminary. Finally at the institution where Dr. Pohl was a professor, Estrada Carrasquillo describes Asbury Seminary as “very healing” for him and his family. And his courses at the Seminary brought his pastoral ministry into a new perspective. “Now the classroom is my parish, the place where I practice my pastorate,” he says.

Estrada Carrasquillo earned his Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Asbury Seminary. He is now in his first semester as a professor with Asbury Global, instructing his students online and at extension sites. His burning passion, as he teaches “Missional Formation” and “Discovering the Missional Heart of God,” is the church.

Passion for the Local Church

“I’m in love with the church, theology of the church,” he says. “There’s one theme that’s been constant throughout my writing, and that’s ecclesiology.” His Master’s thesis looked into how the Latino church should embody its identity in a strange land. He argues that these churches don’t have to repeat what the Anglo or the African churches are doing. Referring to the book, “The McDonaldization of the Church,” Estrada Carrasquillo challenges the idea that we should develop churches where everything is the same. He is passionate, particularly, about the local church. “Pentecostal spirituality is lived ecclesiology,” he explains. “It’s important to read the Great Commission all the way to Acts chapter 2 where it says, ‘And the church kept herself in the teachings of the disciples.’ It connects the Great Commission to the local church …What happens in the worship service doesn’t stay there. It goes with us. What we read, what we pray, the conversations that we have; all of that goes with us.”

Estrada Carrasquillo, who had once questioned whether he was capable of earning a doctorate, never imagined he would someday teach at Asbury Seminary. Yet Jesus giving people the encouragement to do something they think they’re not capable of doing is an important theme for Estrada Carrasquillo. “As a Pentecostal, I read the Great Commission as a long story that begins with them being fearful in a room and ends with them being in the Upper Room. Between the room of fear and the Upper Room, they are empowered to go and make disciples and baptize them and teach them all they are commanded to.”

According to Estrada Carrasquillo, he would never be where he is without his family and children, who walked with him every step of the way to where he is now. Having lived in both Puerto Rico and the United States, learning a new language, and moving every two to three years for two decades, “I’ve been a person on the move, living in a home away from home,” he says. Estrada Carrasquillo learned “what it is to be the ‘other,’” circling his passion for the local church back to relationships and hospitality. “Human life is based on healthy relationships. It’s not so much about the place, but it’s about the people in that place. If we let our relationships grow with the people we’re around, that can change the way we see places. When we see people, we change the way we see so many things.”

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