The path to Goshen, Indiana was not a straightforward one for Carlos Lora.Dominican born, Lora met his wife, a Puerto Rican named Nancy Lora, in New York, and it was there that their three children, Clarissa, Nahshon, and Elijah, were born.
From the very beginning, the Lora family has been active in the faith community, both large scale and small. In the 1990s, Nancy Lora served as a board member of Mennonite Church USA. In this role, she made a trip to Elkhart which would change the course of their lives. She came home and told Lora that they needed to go back- she’d been called to serve in Elkhart.
Lora wasn’t convinced at first.
“If you’ve heard this call, I haven’t. I need to hear it too,” he told her. They prayed about it for five years before making the big move.
“We left NYC, where we felt connected. We had a family, we had a church, we had friends; our lives were there,” said Lora. But his wife felt she had been called to be a pastor, and Lora said he felt that was what was most important.
Lora came to Goshen a few months ahead of his family. He recalls thinking, “If this is God [giving the push to make the move], it will be clear.”
He began looking for a house and applying to jobs. Within a month, he got a call from a dry cleaning company, had an interview and was hired immediately. It only took a few months more to find a house. He sent a picture to his wife right away, telling her that this would be their new home—he had become sure.
Because of his wife’s call to pastorship, Lora was also looking for a church where they were needed. Eventually, he came upon the True Vine Tabernacle in Elkhart, which he said seemed like the answer to his prayers.
The church was small—about 10-15 members—and not growing. The pastor had just left, leaving an empty place behind. Lora felt that the church could really benefit from his family coming, and so after some prayer and deliberation, to the True Vine Tabernacle they went.
The church now has between 80-100 attendees on a typical Sunday, and is growing. Lora and his wife both pastor the church, but “she’s the boss!” he said, laughing.
Every week, three services take place: Bible study on Wednesday, a prayer service on Friday, and an Evangelistic service on Sunday mornings. They currently have plans to build a larger space, able to accommodate up to 300 people.
But living here hasn’t been without its difficulties. Lora said that when they first moved here, he prayed that God would “mold him”, after the Bible verse which compares God to a potter and his followers to clay.
“If clay could feel, it would be in pain,” said Lora. “God listened to my prayer, and he molded me in hard way.”
Lora explained that he had been in a car accident, and for years after he was unable to do a lot of things that had been easy before.
“My car was flipped, and I was hanging by my seatbelt. I crawled out, lay down flat by the side of the road, and prayed, ‘God, forgive my sins, take care of my family, if this is my time, I’m ready.’ But then I opened my eyes, and I was still there.”
This happened again, and “in that moment, a sense of peace came into me; everything was going to be alright.”
Eventually, Lora found his way to Goshen College, where he spends his days making sure our dorm rooms are warm enough, our water comes on, and doing anything else that needs to be done.
When Lora answered a GC ad looking for someone with his experience, he said he never imagined that his children would all end up in school at the very same institution, but every one of them has. Both Nahshon and Elijah currently attend Goshen.
“I love to be around my kids as they’re finishing their last steps here.” He said that sometimes they all have lunch together, and occasionally his wife will come too.
Lora isn’t the only one who enjoys sharing the campus with his family.
For his son Elijah, “It’s great! Imagine… this scenario: it’s cold and raining and you forgot to wear a coat. You then see a familiar-looking golf cart approach and your dad opens the door, let’s you in, and takes you wherever you need to be—presumably to… get a jacket.”
Elijah also commented on his father’s ability to relate to his peers.
“It makes me proud to know that [he has] been helping other students by being [a mentor] for them,” he said.
Lora mentioned how much he enjoys interacting with students, specifically when they can share a prayer or religious discussion.
“I love the Goshen College community,” he said. “I don’t see myself moving on anytime soon.”