Rev. Dr. Dynna Castillo Portugal’s path to ministry began in an unexpected place: computer science engineering. She also has a masters degree in human development and worked as a computer programmer, website developer, database manager and an A/V technician.

Her interest turned to theology largely from the influence of her family over the years. Her grandfather was a church planter who started over 50 churches. Her father is the senior pastor of her home church in Mexico City, Mexico, and her mother serves beside him as a great example of courage and strength.

“From my dad I learned how to be patient and engaged in ministry. I really admire his strong faith,” she says. “From my mom I learned to be fully committed and disciplined. I’m inspired by their testimony.”

In 2002 Dynna came to the States to study at Bethel Seminary, where she received an M.A. in Theological Studies. After that she earned a diploma in choir conducting. She gained experience as a church leader in a Free Methodist church in Minnesota, and in 2007 she was ordained as an associate pastor at Templo Evangélico Gethsemaní in Mexico City.

“Families in my home church are struggling with domestic violence, and in my experience as a pastor there, we have not provided the care these victims need,” she explains. “It was difficult for me to work on my dissertation because violence is a sad reality for many families in Mexico. At the same time, I felt that God was talking to me and comforting me. It was a spiritual journey much more than a thesis.”

Dr. Castillo Portugal hopes to translate her thesis into Spanish to become a resource to leaders in her home church as well as in Latin America.

As a faculty fellow at Western, she is teaching the introductory course, “Practice of Counsel and Care.”

Many of the distance learning students are heavily involved in their own ministries, so they have many questions and concerns from their own contexts.

“It’s a constant learning, and that’s what makes me feel energized,” she shares.

She also believes that pastoral care is not just the ministry of the church leaders, but also of the congregation.

“It is sharing both in sorrow and joy,” she said. “When the church is active in the world, pastoral care and counseling is part of the ministry that the church offers to those in need.”