Featured Student Stories
Dr. Gilberto Velez
School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship
Student, Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership
Dr. Gilberto Velez is passionate about people and education. From his early childhood in Puerto Rico, he knew he wanted to be a doctor and a professor. He would later learn that God had an additional plan for his life.
At 18, Gilberto left his small hometown to attend Universidad Central del Este, where he says, "I pursued my degree in medicine, but God pursued me." Giving his life wholly to Christ, Gilberto's journey included completing his medical degree, earning an additional degree in public health, and embracing a bright career practicing medicine both clinically and academically, as a professor at Interamerican University of Puerto Rico and University of Puerto Rico.
Living in Laredo, Texas, with his wife and two sons, Gilberto pursued a new mission next: starting a Bible study with 15 adults and 2 children. From humble obedience, Iglesia Cristiana Misericordia Assembly of God was birthed, and today, the church averages more than 2,600 people at a typical service. Retiring from medicine to wholly pursue a calling to vocational ministry, Gilberto is the church's senior pastor, as well as president of the Latino Mega Churches Association, board member of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Chairman of the Board for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). Through these positions he influences over 30,000 churches consisting of more than 15 million evangelical Latinos.
But with all these accomplishments, education and people continue to impassion Gilberto most. How could he best be used to train and resource the Latino Church and community? Through the NHCLC, the largest Latino evangelical organization in United States, Gilberto was introduced to Regent University's Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership program, and his next mission clicked: pursuing his doctorate in leadership, with a vision of next-gen leaders before him. Gilberto ultimately desires to equip those who can move Latino churches into a more contemporary structure while maintaining their conservative, traditional values.
"I see the Latino Church as a vital part of the Christian community of American churches," an enthusiastic Gilberto shares. "For Latinos, family is anyone who I will choose to love as my own." He believes this philosophy positions the Latino Church to bring life-giving transformation to any community.
Gilberto credits Regent with teaching him how to apply proven leadership skills to the spiritual world. "The material I am studying has opened my eyes to a different dimension of leadership, and I want that for all of our people." He tells people that Regent delivers "a serious program," and whimsically shares, "You are going to go crazy, but every moment is worth it. The quality of the faculty is excellent—extremely competent." Recalling a time of professors listening and praying with him during a family illness he adds, "And they are very human."
Regent is currently working with the NHCLC to produce curriculum specifically for Latino community pastors. He acknowledges Regent for its openness to invest both time and resources into training Spanish- and English-speaking pastors, and anticipates a partnership that will benefit the Latino community and the world.