Signs of God’s unmerited grace

Jose Luis Avendano

By

Jun 21, 2018

Throughout its history, Wycliffe College has provided theological education to students from many countries, but those who have hailed from South America have been few and far between.

This month, Chilean Jose Luis Avendano, (pictured) will defend his dissertation on “Luther’s Theology of the Cross as a Response to the Mystery of Human Suffering and Evil.” His defence will be the final stage in the seven-year-long process of earning his PhD. He plans to return to Chile soon after his defence. Jose Luis (JLA below) took time to answer a few questions before he bids Wycliffe “good-bye," revealing that his knowledge of suffering extends far beyond the purely academic.

Q:           Tell us a little about your life before you came to Wycliffe.

JLA:        I was involved with pastoral work and teaching since I was a young man, working in different theological institutes in Chile, but also for a couple of years in the United States, where I served the Hispanic community.

Q:           How did your faith change during your time here?

JLA:        My faith took a radical turn during my time here at Wycliffe. Without my normal support network of family and friends from back home, I experienced divorce, sickness, economic uncertainty, anxiety, depression and loneliness. But I also greatly experienced (and I still experience) the hand of God full of grace, and how he put people in my life of great heart and compassion to help me. Certainly, I now believe in a different way, because now I have my own story with God, and I believe in him existentially. Of course, this does not mean that I do not sometimes feel fear due to adverse circumstances, but when that happens, I remember the many times that God has saved and kept me. My time here at Wycliffe has been a time of growing in life and faith.

Q:           What is next for you?

JLA:        I plan to return to Chile, where I will seek God for his direction. My wish is to be able to work in the theological education of my country. God will say.

Q:           You had a donor who supported you over the years, and you also received some financial assistance from Wycliffe College. What has that support meant to you?

JLA:        The help of my donor and of Wycliffe have meant everything to me. In fact, without this help, I would never have been able to continue studying at Wycliffe. In other words, this help has been for me a sign of the unmerited grace of God acting through them.

Q:           What memories will you take with you as you leave us?

JLA:        I have wonderful memories of the professors and staff who work at Wycliffe. They offered me a hand and they were very kind, standing in solidarity with me, without knowing too much about how challenging it was for me to continue studying with so many difficulties. I could mention these people by name, but I do not think they would feel very comfortable about this. My best memories will be of them.

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Note: Wycliffe College has a long history with Chile - particularly through the work of Charles Sadlier, who was an alumnus of the College, and who is pictured in one of the stained glass windows in the College chapel. He served as the Director of Araucanian Mission of the South American Missionary Society.

Click for information on Wycliffe's Doctor of Philosophy in Theological Studies program.