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Pilot or Pastor? (To be or not to be?)
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By Mary Haskett

"Lord I want to be a pilot. I've been interviewed for admission to the Caribbean Aviation Training Institute for a Pilot scholarship. As soon as I'm 19 that is where I'm going. I'll just preach to teens in the high school until then." God had called Junior Sorzano to ministry, but he explained to God that ministry was not on his agenda!

A Trinidadian by birth, his had been a turbulent start to life, with an alcoholic father who abandoned the family when he was three. Raised by his mother and grandmother in a traditional Roman Catholic home; he had no say when his devout grandmother insisted they all attend mass and confession every week. Later he had drifted away from the church into a worldly lifestyle of socializing and drinking. But he states, "I always believed in God."

When the family moved from their home in Arima to Santa Cruz, Pastor Junior was 14 years of age. Some distant relatives invited them to an evangelistic crusade at The Church of the Nazarene. This reawakened a sense of spiritual need in his life, and he returned to the Catholic Church, with occasional attendance at the Church of the Nazarene. A persistent lady missionary, who was the interim pastor in the Church of the Nazarene, made regular visits to the family home. Pastor Junior says, "I tried to avoid her, but she never gave up." Finally he realized God wanted him to attend there, and soon he accepted Christ as his Saviour.

Reading a passage in the book of Matthew chapter 6, he noted the reference to pagans running after worldly things. The conclusion in verse 33 held his attention, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Pastor Junior grew spiritually and became zealous for God. In short order, he led his mother, sister and cousin to the Lord.

While giving a Bible study, at the church, a missionary who had listened spoke to him afterwards and said, "I believe God is calling you into ministry. My goodness you are like a young Billy Graham."

Still he resisted. "I want to be a pilot," he told the missionary.

Pastor Junior reports God broke his will in a dramatic way during a graduation ceremony. He says he clearly received a gentle rebuke when God spoke to him saying, "You want to fly people around the world, but I want you to help fly souls to heaven." He then committed himself to God, but still struggled with some misgivings and a pull towards his old life style. Not until he surrendered unreservedly did he experience total peace.

In 1979, he enrolled in the Caribbean Nazarene Theological College in Santa Cruz, where he embarked on a five year course, which included a year’s internship. He graduated with his Bachelor of Theology Degree granted in affiliation with the Canadian Nazarene College.

During his years at the college, he met his wife to be. Their wedding took place in 1983, and they lived in the married student apartments for the last year of their studies. He recalls with a chuckle he had listened to Rose singing in a service," His Eye is on the Sparrow," and he states, "My eye was on her!"

Married life brought its challenges, in 1984 a week after the birth of their daughter Rochelle; they noticed she had breathing difficulties. At the hospital, the diagnosis proved to be cardiac arrest. Rochelle, born with coarctation of the aorta-a narrowing of the main blood vessel to the heart, had a life threatening disorder. They immediately started to pray and later learned the doctor on call that day became a Christian after witnessing their faith. God moved in miraculous ways over an eleven year period to facilitate all the care and surgeries Rochelle needed. She had her final surgery in 1997, in Canada. Today she is a healthy young lady.

Many were the challenges Pastor Junior faced through his academic years. He worked buying and selling cars, and teaching part time to support himself and later his family. At the completion of his studies, the College President offered him the position of Director of Admissions at the college, as well as a part time teaching position. He filled that role from January 1985 to May 1988. Pastor Rose also taught, and during this period she gave birth to their son Jonathan.

In the summer of 1988 plans were underway for Pastor Junior and his wife to take the Masters Program in their chosen subjects at the Olivet Nazarene University in Chicago. Alternatives had to be made regarding the children. Their little boy suffered with asthmatic attacks, and medical coverage was not an option in the states. Pastor Rose’s mother moved in with Junior’s mother, and the two little ones stayed in their care for ten months. Over a period of one year and two summers, with travel back and forth to Trinidad, both completed their Masters Degrees and returned to serve at CNTC in Santa Cruz.

In 1993, the family came to Canada. Pastor Rose continued further studies at Tyndale while Pastor Junior took a part time position as custodian and youth pastor in the Nazarene Emmanuel Church, in Toronto. Rose’s sister, already in Canada, became a tremendous support to them.

A call to pastor a church in Chicago came, but while Pastor Junior Sorzano waited for papers to be completed, the District Superintendent asked him to answer the call for a pastor at London First. Through divine intervention, the Chicago pastorate did not materialize.

Almost 18 years have passed since Pastor Junior Sorzano, along with his wife, Pastor Rose, accepted the pastorate at London First Church of the Nazarene. With purpose and vision they moved the church forward, but appreciated the work done before them by the Reverend Owen and Mrs. Reta Underwood.

Pastor Junior spearheaded the move forward when the church purchased three properties in its vicinity, making way for a much needed parking lot. The installation of a chairlift now saves disabled and older congregants from toiling up the stairs to the sanctuary. Renovations of the ladies washrooms with a wheelchair accessible stall have further enhanced the facilities. Under his leadership the church has birthed many outreach ministries, with regular food handouts twice a week, clothing give a ways in the spring and fall, nursing home teams and home Bible study groups; as well ministries in song and preaching in different venues. A few years ago he encouraged the birth of a Spanish congregation, who originally met in London First, but now meet in another facility, with ongoing support from Pastor Junior.

On Tuesdays Pastor Junior Sorzano facilitates "Faith Today" a ministry to men at Quintin Warner House, a drug and rehabilitation centre. Here, he joyfully shares the Gospel with men in prison, and many have come to salvation.

To all this he quotes, "Where there is no vision the people perish:" (Proverbs 29:17) and to prove his point the church is now looking to further upgrade and expand its facilities. With a membership of over 200, and on some Sundays and not a seat to be had, the vision continues, not to fly a plane, but to help fly souls to heaven.

Note: For three years Pastor Junior's father resided in the nursing home owned and operated by his mother, a registered nurse. The couple never reunited, but her love of God caused her to show compassion. Before his father passed away, Pastor Junior led him to the Lord.