Distinguished Service Award
Rev. Juan Carlos ’88, MA ’14 and Rev. Colette (Smith ‘87) Gonzalez
Juan Carlos and Colette González are Assemblies of God Missionaries to Japan.
Juan Carlos and Colette González first served as Youth Pastors at Calvary Light Long Beach in 1989. They received an invitation from Colette’s parents, Don (VU’63) and Mary Smith (VU) to fill-in for them in Kasuga City, Japan. Juan Carlos and Colette became MAPS Volunteer Missionaries from 1989 to 1990.
Upon returning to the USA, they served as Associate/Youth Pastors at Alta Loma First A/G and Associate/Youth Pastors at Calvary Light A/G.
Juan Carlos and Colette, along with their two children Nicolette and Stephen, received full-appointment as Missionaries to Japan from the Assemblies of God World Missions in1995.
Both their children were raised in Japan. Nicky attended Evangel University, graduating with a degree in Education. Stephen attended Vanguard University for one year. He along with his wife Sabrina (VU’20) serve as Youth Pastors at Orange County First Assembly in Santa Ana, California,
Juan Carlos was born in San Salvador, El Salvador, in the middle of political instability that fueled the 12 year long civil war in El Salvador, one of the last places of the cold war.
Juan Carlos was raised by pioneer Assemblies of God pastors Raúl González Durón and Juanita de González Durón. He is the youngest of six siblings. While happily living a life as a pastor’s kid, the financial limitations of his family were real. Juan Carlos received a scholarship to the Liceo Cristiano Rev. Juan Bueno from Kindergarten to High School, graduating with an emphasis in Mathematics and Physics. Juan Carlos enjoyed the sponsorship of Latin America Child Care (LACC) known now as Child Hope. Juan Carlos also received help from World Vision in some of his years of schooling. Juan Carlos has been a guest speaker in the US and in Japan regarding the life-changing privilege of being a sponsored child and the amazing effect that this can make in other children in El Salvador and Latin America.
Right after high school, Juan Carlos served as Youth Pastor in Filial Santa Lucia, AD and completed an intensive English course at Centro Cultural de El Salvador while also attending the Instituto Biblico Anexo del Centro Evangelistico. Sensing a calling for higher education, Juan Carlos applied and was accepted at the Latin American Bible College in La Puente, California. After one year and with the speculation of the LABC school closing its doors, God opened a new door.
Southern California College (VU) accepted the petition for enrollment from Juan Carlos, and with a 4.0 GPA, President Wayne Kraiss offered Juan Carlos a tuition scholarship to attend SCC (VU). John Bueno, Juan Carlos’ pastor, also was instrumental in this transition. Bethany University also offered incentives for Juan Carlos to attend their Santa Cruz campus. Juan Carlos has a special thankfulness for the way God provided because attending SCC (VU) was the best choice.
It was at SCC that his calling to ministry was solidified, and his passion to reach the lost was galvanized with the academic classes from professors and classmate. One of the instrumental classes was the Vanguard Ensemble. The group had lost one of their first tenor and friends suggested for Juan Carlos to try out for the group. Noel Wilson, the director who became a life-long friend, made clear the traveling responsibilities of joining the group. Juan Carlos remembers taking Greek II from Professor David Clark and Hebrew I from Dr. Bill Williams. during this time and did not think how he could join the Vanguard Ensemble, too. However, Noel Wilson said that the next year the group was to travel to Japan. “That was so instrumental in the direction God wanted me to go.” It was in the Vanguard Ensemble where Juan Carlos met Colette J. González (Smith VU ’87) and toured Japan summer of 1987. They sang in churches, large concert halls, fishermen villages, in cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and concluding the tour in Fukuoka, Japan.
Juan Carlos and Colette were confronted with the less than 1 percent of Christianity that prevails in Japan for 127 million people and could not resist the call of God in their lives.
Juan Carlos and Colette married in 1988 and began to take steps for a lifetime missionary career to Japan. Along the way, they ministered as youth pastors. Some of those students were called to be youth pastors, pastors, and professionals that are now making a difference.
Juan Carlos graduated with a BA (VU ’88) in Biblical Studies, and a Masters in Theology (VU‘13) both from Vanguard University. Because of the traveling missionary life, Juan Carlos took courses for his Masters from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Cal State University Fullerton, and Asia Pacific Theological Seminary in Baguio, Phillipines. Juan Carlos finished his Masters in Theology while also serving at Vanguard University as Missionary-in Residence. Juan Carlos gave a year to serve Vanguard University and promoted Global and Local Missions among the VU students. Two of the highlights was co-teaching a course with Dr. Doug Petersen, and working with Dr. Carol Taylor during her tenure at Vanguard University.
Juan Carlos is fluent in Spanish, English and Japanese. He studied Japanese at the Fukuoka YMCA School of Japanese that ensures entrance to a Japanese University as a foreigner, and also attended the KML Japanese Language School for Missionaries in Karuizawa, Nagano Ken, Japan. Juan Carlos’ Facebook is trilingual (Spanish, English and Japanese).
Juan Carlos is an ordained minister with the Southern California Network of the Assemblies of God.
Colette Joy (Smith VU ’87) González was born to Donald and Mary J. Smith, missionaries to Japan (Retired, 38 years). Colette is the third child of four. Colette’s siblings have also attended Vanguard for a time or also completing degrees; Dr. Chuck Smith, Melody Hunt, and Darrell Smith.
Colette is fluent in English, Japanese, and has been studying Spanish.
Colette graduated with a BA in Science (concentration in Mathematics) and also took classes for her teaching credentials from Cal State San Bernardino, Cal State Fresno, and Vanguard University. Colette holds a California Teaching Credential. She has taught at Pacific Harbor Christian School, Wilmington, CA; Ruth Musser Middle School, Rancho Cucamonga; Franklin Middle School, Long Beach, CA; and Fukuoka International School in Fukuoka, Japan.
She also received her calling to be a missionary to Japan on that Vanguard Ensemble tour (’87) to Japan shortly after graduation. She often wondered how God would combine her calling to be a missionary to Japan with her degree and teaching credentials in math and science. The culmination of this occurred in 2012 when she received her Ordination from Southern California Network.
Teaching at Fukuoka International School has opened numerous doors to reach the lost in the international community. Also, because of her experience as a teacher, many students from all walks of life come to study with her, whether it be English as a Second Language, Math, Physics, or Chemistry.
For decades now, Colette has taught Bible studies and Sunday School classes for the churches where she and Juan Carlos have worked, both in English and in Japanese.
Juan Carlos and Colette are church planters in Japan. During their career, they worked as a Missionary Pastors in Kasuga Christian Center and Hakata New Life Church in the middle of Fukuoka. They helped in raising funds for those buildings. They also started a ministry that fed over 300 homeless daily with the help of the community businesses and church volunteers.
Presently, they are planting Momochi Symphony Church on the west-side of the 2.2 million people city of Fukuoka, Japan. They are in the middle of a building campaign to place this group into a church building with the help of supporters from the US and their Japanese members. They hope to be able to buy a building with cash so that a multiple campus church can be started that would minister to children, families, and foreigners alike based on the Biblical life of Andrew the disciple.
Music ministry has always been an integral part of their lives. Colette is the Worship Pastor/Co-Pastor at Momochi Symphony Church. She also teaches a “Gospel Music Class” at the local community center. She enjoys training up others to use their musical talents for God.
An additional aspect of the ministry in Japan involved providing ministry to local Japanese churches through “Gospel Music” outreaches.
Seeing Japanese people coming to the Lord, being discipled and baptized as followers of Jesus Christ is the most meaningful of all of our accomplishments.
We love to serve our Lord.