My name is Juan Huertas. I’m the Lead Pastor of Grace Community United Methodist Church in Shreveport, LA. Blogging is a way for me to exercise the frustrated writer in me and to share my journey of life & faith.
I am married to Shannon Perry Huertas and we have three children, Seth, Isabelle, & Lucas. Shannon is a psychotherapist whose counseling interests include the intersection between sexuality, intimacy, gender, & relationships (you can follow Shannon on Twitter @embodyingbeauty).
Contact me: spiritstirrer[at]gmail.com
Why Spirit Stirrer? Find out here.
A Note from my Name Giver – Larabee Thompson
Compared to other relationships in my life, my friendship with Juan is fairly new. At the time I’m writing this, we’ve known each other for less than a decade. But it seems like our spirits have known each other for much longer. I met him at a time when I was seeking – seeking my place in the world, seeking the “right” way, seeking fulfillment. Though we had just started getting to know one another before he and Shannon left for Atlanta, the bond had already started to form and he had already started the “stirring” of my spirit.
My husband, Patrick, and I visited Horseshoe Drive United Methodist Church for the first time in the summer of 2001. We liked the church but we were hit and miss for a while. Some time in the fall of that year, we started to take our commitment more seriously. This change of heart was partly brought about by an invitation from Juan to join a group of other young couples who were meeting for weekly Bible study. Perhaps he was just extending hospitality, but I tend to think Juan’s invitation was an action of his calling, evidence of the gifts bestowed upon him by the Holy Spirit. You see, I believe he innately understood my seeking, my searching for something more. With this invitation, he started me down a path to find the answers God had for me. This invitation would cause me to search through a Book that I had, previously, thought little of. It would make me accountable to others and it would sometimes cause me to struggle with what I believed.
Upon his return from seminary, Juan and I worked together on the church staff. We met weekly to discuss issues of Christian Education and Formation, but it often ended up being a bit of a check-up on my formation. He always seemed to know what was heavy on my mind or in my heart, just by being in the room together, and he’d ask about it. He’d rarely let me off the hook. Again, he wouldn’t give me the easy answer but would guide and encourage me to seek out God’s will for me. Sometimes he’d share Scripture, an article, a book he’d read, a sermon or lecture he’d heard and he’d give me something to chew on, think about, wrestle with.
In the summer of 2007, we suffered the loss of our 6-year-old son. Juan stood beside us as our pastor and our friend. I took up blogging in the months that followed as an outlet for my grief. While the grief was powerful and painful, I was often overwhelmed by the love, patience, and grace that was extended to me by so many, but most especially by my closest friends, which included those three couples in that original Bible study group. I wrote a note of gratitude and called them each by name – not their given name, but a name that symbolized their importance in my life. Juan was called “Spirit Stirrer.” (His wife, Shannon, was called “The Embodiment of Beauty,” for she is beautiful inside and out, in every way I can think of. I strive daily to emulate her. But, that is another story, for another time.)
Juan’s discerning, intuitive nature causes me (and, I suspect, many) to think longer and struggle harder with the issues of the world and how we, as Christian, are called to act upon them. His encouragement drives me to seek out and practice spiritual disciplines and practices that fine tune my communication with God, so that my personal relationship with God is strong and I can hear God’s calling in my life. His passion for the Gospel inspires me to teach, share, spread the Good News. I am always thankful for some time spent with my friend. I pray that you are also blessed Juan’s stirring of your spirit. Peace.