Leo’s story: The impact of a Transforming Community in the life of a pastor

Note: What is the impact of the Transforming Center in the lives of leaders? Pastor Leo Ayala, a recipient of a Robert Mulholland Scholarship, shares how he found the Transforming Center and the impact it had on his personal life and the impact it will have in his ministry context.


I was finishing the book, Invitation to Solitude and Silence. While reading it, I stopped so many times to breathe, cry, and internalize every concept. On the last page, I found an invitation: “Don’t just learn about spiritual transformation —experience it in your own life!” Somebody was talking to me! After serving in ministry for many years, I was getting tired of teaching truth to others while struggling to maintain a healthy inner life.

When the Transforming Community experience started, I just couldn’t believe that silence was going to be one of the hardest things to do. How is it that I’m so addicted to noise, traduced in technology, activities, ministry, and any other religious compulsive life? The simple exercise of stopping for solitude was a scary thought. I knew I was tired, but I didn’t want to expose myself and confess how burned out I was. My identity (false identity) was so interwoven with my job and ministry that I could only value myself through my ministerial performance.

Then during my first quarter, it happened. I burst into panic attacks, and in days my anxiety disorder consumed my life. My anxiety opened the doors to depression, and in less than 7 months I lost almost everything. During these months, my Transforming Community experience helped me to navigate the chaos, the process of disorientation, and deconstruction. During each retreat, every invitation provided me with an inner language to lament, hold the pain, accept God’s invitation to sit with Him in my sorrow and make the slow, deep journey to healing.

A Spiritual Language in My Own Context

With tears, I want to thank you for investing in me through the scholarship I received to participate in Transforming Community 15. What an honor!  I have a new language to understand my Christian spirituality and how to walk with others. I have been in the Army and did my basic training, but I have to say that by far, this is the hardest thing I have ever done. Soul work is hard work, and I’m thankful for the opportunity. While still on my own spiritual journey, I’m looking forward to blessing my Latino community in Puerto Rico and developing a spiritual language in our context.

All gifts up to $125,000 will go towards the Mulholland Scholarship Fund to support diverse transforming leaders like Leo Ayala.

Your gifts to the Mulholland Scholarship fund help us provide financial assistance for leaders from under-resourced communities who want to participate in a Transforming Community.

Transforming Center

We desire to see churches and Christian organizations become communities of authentic spiritual transformation – and that begins with transforming leaders. We seek to strengthen the souls of pastors and leaders, equipping them to guide their churches and organizations to become spiritually transforming communities that discern and do the will of God in their settings. Read more about the Transforming Center.
Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

3 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Hi, Leo. Thank you so much for sharing your testimony. I’m the record keeper for your community & have gone through a similar struggle to yours. I was in TC9 and am in TC16 and being in these communities & the wider TC community has helped me get through taking care of my sister-in-law for almost two months as she was dying of cancer, and the episodes of anxiety & depression that I’ve experienced ever since. By God’s grace, I have an incredibly supportive husband, family, church family & TC community, and with their love & support, I was able to get through my most recent episode in September without having to be hospitalized (I’ve been hospitalized 3 times for depression). If you would like to communicate with me more directly, let me know by emailing me at the address you send your reflection papers. Blessings, Maiya

Leo, Thank you for sharing your story so openly and honestly. Believe me, the privilege was ours to get to walk with you and witness God’s tender work in your life!

Ruth, what an honor to be part of TC15!

Join thousands of pastors and spiritual leaders

Receive Beyond Words®, reflections on the soul of leadership. Written by Ruth Haley Barton, each reflection provides spiritual guidance and encouragement for those seeking to be in God for the world.