SEU Alum Nominated for Dove Award
If you ever get the privilege to talk to Joivan Jimenez, ’15 — whose song Generación de Fuego has been nominated for a 2017 Dove Award for Spanish Language Recorded Song of the Year — you’ll find yourself smiling ear to ear, inspired by his love of God, humble demeanor and true desire to lead worship.
He recently shared with us his journey of faith and how Southeastern University influenced his rise to success.
A Surprise Calling
When Jimenez was four years into medical school, he felt God calling him to do something else. Something completely different.
“I knew — without a doubt — that the Lord was calling me to be a worship leader,” Jimenez shared. “It really was a leap of faith to discontinue my medical training and pursue music full time.” Jimenez, who lives in Ocala, Florida, traveled extensively with a worship band for several years before beginning his solo career. During this time, he was looking for a church home and a way to pursue his ministerial education. He began to pray for opportunities to do both.
Jimenez’s prayers were answered when he ran into a longtime friend who told him of Southeastern University’s regional campus at Meadowbrook Church in Ocala. “It was truly the hand of God at work. I had always been a fan of SEU, because I loved the strong community feeling that I got whenever I visited the Lakeland campus. Coming to Meadowbrook as both church and school gave me the chance to get that experience close to home.”
Jimenez found the blend of in-person and online classes offered at the SEU regional campus to be ideal for him. This flexible schedule allowed him to still be there for his family (he is married and has three children) and to continue his music career at the same time. Going to SEU also showed his children how important education is; they saw firsthand that it’s always possible to pursue a dream, to get an education and to follow God’s call.
The close relationships with his classmates and professors were Jimenez’s most cherished parts of his time at SEU. He majored in Ministerial Leadership and chose the worship track of study, which truly molded him in the importance of excellence and authenticity. He now serves Meadowbrook Church as both a worship leader and the Spanish ministry director.
As a regional campus student, Jimenez was encouraged to attend SEU community events, such as SEU Conference. “Going to Conference and listening to SEU Worship was transformative for me in so many ways,” he shared with enthusiasm. “I saw how the young people were engaging with the worship music and messages, and I just fell in love with it all.” Conference inspired him to see how he could incorporate a similar style into the Spanish-speaking community, so as to meet those young people where they are.
Generación de Fuego
The inspiration for the song that has been nominated for the Dove Award, Generación de Fuego, came from an experience that Jimenez had during a summer camp mission trip to Cuba. Before he left for the trip he had the melody for a song but he hadn’t found the right words.
One evening in Cuba he went for a walk with a few of the children from the camp, and as the sun was setting all the electricity in the surrounding area went out. He began to worry about how he would find a way to get the children back to camp safely. What happened next amazed him. The kids were prepared for this loss of light; they had lanterns and flashlights and they led the way for him.
“Here I was, in a foreign place, fully trusting these precious children to show me the way back. This was God’s way of showing me that there is a generation of young people who understand that they have to be ready to be a light for others.” The words “be the light, share the fire within you” came to him, and he began singing, and the kids sang with him. He brought that experience and those words home with him and finished the song.
The Dove Awards
Jimenez says he owes part of the honor of this nomination to SEU and to Meadowbrook Church, where he recorded the song. “It’s such a blessing to be nominated alongside other artists whom I have admired for years,” he said emphatically. “It wasn’t a dream come true … I never dared to dream it. Instead it was proof of God’s hand in my path of pursuing music for His glory.”
Inspiration for the Next Steps
Jimenez hopes that his story will encourage those who are looking for the courage to take their next steps in life to turn to prayer and to fully surrender to God’s will. “To succeed I had to take my prayer life to a whole new level. Along the way I met some people who weren’t supportive,” he said. “But I knew I had to be obedient to God’s call.”
“Surround yourself with people who will keep you accountable and will call out the best in you,” Jimenez said. “It would be a lonely ministry without my family, my music team, my mentors and friends, and especially my SEU family. They’re the ones who taught me that our futures are paved through prayer.”
“We all carry a fire in our hearts that is meant to be shared. We have a responsibility to share that light, that fire … to show others that light is Jesus.”
The 48th annual GMA Dove Awards will be held on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.