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.