Nelson Rivas was the second of three children born to a non-Christian marriage in 1961 in San Salvador, El Salvador. His father was a prominent lawyer and his mother an elementary school teacher, both had a catholic background. His outstanding talent for music was discovered at a very young age and he was recruited to the band at the prestigious catholic school in San Salvador where he studied. He quickly learned also to sing, read music, and play the violin, later on he studied piano and also English as a second language.
Nelson’s dream was to be a physician. In fact, he was studying his fourth year of medicine when he received Jesus as his Savior at Iglesia Bautista Miramonte in San Salvador. Nelson grew quickly in his faith and soon served the Lord in youth ministry. Later on he enrolled in the Bible seminary and when he was studying in his 5th year of medicine, God called him to serve Him “full time”.
Nelson met Rosemarie, his wife, when he was “just saved”. He shared the gospel with her and she received Jesus in her heart soon after. They were married in 1990 and have both served the Lord together ever since. They have 3 daughters, Daniela born in 1993, Fabiola born in 1995 and Camila born in 2001.
Nelson was one of the founding leaders of Vida Nueva San Salvador in January 1991 along with Julio Contreras and Steve Kern, and was soon thereafter ordained as a Pastor at Vida Nueva and served fulltime in the ministry. In early 2005, the Rivas family experienced the greatest challenge of their lives; Rosemarie was diagnosed with a serious and very invasive type of breast cancer. This trial prepared them for a life of faith unlike any other trial could have accomplished.
God gave Nelson a love for His word, the souls of men, and as he grew as a minister, a love for Guatemala, especially Guatemala City, a capital city with a population of about 5 million people. This love became a clear call to go.
Nelson and his family moved to Guatemala City on September 11, 2007. Nelson has been the senior pastor of Vida Nueva Guatemala since its birth in January of 2008.