INNER CITY OUTREACH
We have continued to preach in one of the market squares of the inner city every weekend since our last update. By the grace of God, it has gone wonderful. Many people stop to listen, and sit around on the benches and on the ledge of a fountain by us to hear the Word. They will sit for the whole 1 ½ to 2 hours we preach, and then come up to us afterwards to talk personally, ask for help, ask for prayer, etc. There are also a number of people who, knowing when and at what time we’ll be there, come to the square specifically to hear the Word and sit down to listen.
One man comes every week, every meeting thus far since he started, and he has to travel over an hour away between his home and the city here. To make it worse, he has a skin disease which gives him constant pain all over his body, and though he’s been unable to work a job because of it, he still comes such a great distance to hear the Word of God.
We are much encouraged that many here are hungry for the truth. The greatest blessing is that almost every time we preach there is at least one person who comes up to us in brokenness saying they want to repent and serve the Lord. Sometimes there’s more than one! The Spirit of God is backing up the outward preaching of the Word with the inward drawing of the hearts and fruit is resulting to the glory of God.
I won’t take your time to tell you of them all, but specifically, I want to mention three young men that have all came forward to us in tears, crying out under conviction of sin, saying they want to repent and serve God. All three appeared to be in their early 20’s.
THREE WONDERFUL TESTIMONIES FROM THE LAST MONTH:
1. The first young man was walking down the street, thinking about his life. In a depraved condition spiritually, he had been living a life of sin and self-seeking, and was thinking about how empty he was and how his life was being destroyed. The Spirit of God was already dealing with him. In a helpless state, he decided to pray to the God of Heaven, asking for help, asking specifically what the truth is and what he should follow. Within a couple of minutes after praying that, walking down the same street, he walked in to our open air meeting where we were preaching Jesus Christ as the Lord of All. He listened for a while, and afterwards came up to us in tears saying he wants us to pray for him now because he’s ready to serve the Lord. He was amazed that God had so quickly answered his prayer!
2. Another young man was a street thug. Hearing the Word preached, and coming up to us afterwards, he said that something happened in his heart during the message and described how his heart was pricked. He said he just wanted to cry, and began to weep, saying he wanted to repent. He told us that his life is ruined by sin. His mother is a prostitute and his closest brother is a drug addict on the streets too. He told us that he’s been doing drugs for a long time, but that one time in his life years prior he had seen the hand of the Lord work on him, and experienced a degree of freedom and peace during that time. Sadly though, he withdrew from the Lord and continued to follow his course of destruction. Now, however, he wanted to repent once for all. We pleaded with him to count the cost, and endeavored to explain to him what it means to follow Jesus, and to lay before him the nature of the trials that await him and the temptations of Satan that must be overcome, and of the Scriptural methods of overcoming by faith. He said he was ready to forsake all to follow Christ. After giving him instructions on how to be saved, we were then able to pray with and for him and to give him a Bible.
3. The other young man was a street thug named Alex. As we were preaching on repentance, he interrupted us in the middle of our sermon. He was very polite, yet very importunate. “Please forgive me for interrupting you,” he would say, “but I need to get right with God”. We stopped preaching to talk to him. He was a drug addict from a town far away, and for the past 6 days had been sleeping on the street. Dressed in big baggy shorts, a dirty shirt, a stocking hat, and sunglasses, with his arms covered in tattoos, and alcohol on his breath, he began to confess his sin and the tears began to stroll down his face. He said he hadn’t cried in 5 years. He said that just prior he was in a rage and was on his way to “bash” someone, and was even pondering suicide, but when hearing us preach, something changed in his heart and he was pacified and convicted. Now he wanted to lay down his rebellion and serve the Lord. His sense of sin was tremendous, and though he pleaded with us to help him get right with God, he couldn’t believe that God would ever forgive him because of the nature and number of his sins. “I’m not even worthy to be standing on this ground”, he would say as he stood in our preaching spot. Later, as we kept sharing the Word with him and he kept weeping, he spit on the ground by an impulse of habit, and immediately apologized for spitting with an appearance of fear, and quickly smeared it out with his foot.
He was a modern day example of the sinner that went into the temple to pray, not even able to lift his face toward heaven but all he could do was beat his chest and say ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’. We told him that story. And I was able to share my testimony with him of how the Lord delivered me from addictions. He said he doesn’t know what it’s like to go just a few days without drugs, and wanted the Lord to deliver him. We were able to pray with him, and to rebuke the demonic works in him, but he wouldn’t come around to believing with assurance that he could be forgiven and cleansed.
The next night as we set up to preach, he was waiting for us, and sat the whole time just taking it all in and absorbing the Word. He said that he had obtained a great peace in his heart, had read some of the Gospel of John we gave him (slowly, he said, because he believed that each sentence had really, really deep meaning!) and that he had been clean (from drugs and alcohol) all day. He said that while we were preaching, that every word seemed to be specifically for him. While we were talking with him, another man came up and shared his testimony with us that he had been a drug addict for 27 years but one month ago heard the Gospel and has been completely free since. It was the hand of God. It greatly encouraged Alex to hear this and appeared to be the means of putting some faith in his soul.
The next day, now 2 days after our initial encounter with Alex, was a Sunday morning, the time of our weekly Bible study. To our surprise, Alex showed up, still clean! He was surprised too, and said that he knows only the God of Heaven can deliver him. We gave him a whole Bible, and were able to share some Scriptures with him pertinent to his situation, exhort him to cast himself wholly upon Christ every moment, that the power of the Holy Spirit can give him the complete victory, and to pray for him some more. We also gave him a phone card, with which he called his Mom in his hometown, and she was able to get him a bus ticket to go home and get off the streets. Lina called the next day, and his Mom was very grateful, thanking us for getting her son back (though it wasn’t us at all, it was JESUS), and talked to Alex briefly before the phone cut off. He was still doing good. And we praise God.
What other blessing on earth can even compare to this? What joy is there even comparable to a sinner coming to repentance? What other thing on earth makes the angels rejoice? Oh, that ALL of God’s people would dedicate themselves to glorifying His name through seeking to bring His lost sheep back under the care of the Chief Shepherd!
A VISIT TO THE US AND BACK
Well, about 6 months ago we were in the US for a short time, preparing to make a journey into Mexico to evangelize and preach. We were initially committing to 6 months, unaware of what the future would hold, but now those 6 months are expired, and it is our desire to continue to labor for the Gospel in Mexico.
Now that our visas are about to expire, we must return to the US for a short time before coming back to Mexico. We plan on leaving this Sunday, Feb. 15th. We are crossing the border into Texas, seeing that’s the nearest spot, and meeting up with some brethren there for some fellowship. Sean and Lisa (www.preachingjesuschrist.com) have just returned from India so we look forward to meeting up with them and hearing what the Lord has done with them these past 6 months. There are also some other brothers in the ministry there we plan on meeting up with and are excited to meet. After a brief visit in the US (probably a couple weeks), we plan on returning to Guadalajara.
We truly praise God for such a successful journey thus far, and upon meditating on what the Lord has allowed us to accomplish during this past 6 months, it is here, below, written down for a brief overview as we give glory to the loving-kindness of the Lord. So for the sake of those who are keeping up on us, and supporting us, we want to give a brief overview of what the Lord has done this journey…
During the last 6 months by the grace of God we have been able to:
-Preach the Gospel to thousands of Mexicans who otherwise would not or may not have heard it. Many of these were in places of Mexico that would scarcely ever see a Christian missionary preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
-Show the Jesus Film (based on the Gospel of Luke) to hundreds of people in various remote towns and villages and preach the Gospel to them before and after each showing. We trust our labor here was not without lasting fruit.
-Preach in numerous churches and Christian gatherings to call the lost religious to true conversion and to teach sound doctrine to edify and strengthen brethren in Christ.
-Conduct weekly meetings for children over the period of a couple months, to teach them God’s Word, singing songs and having them participate in studies, with a weekly attendance of between 30-50 kids.
-Preach the Gospel in a prison in Mexico for a couple of months, minister to the men, casting out demons and by the power of the Holy Spirit seeing them cry out to God with a broken heart of contrition seeking salvation to the glory of Christ’s great Gospel.
-Purchase and distribute hundreds of Bibles to those who never owned one. Many people are extremely grateful and immediately begin to ask us “how much?” and it’s such a joy to tell them that Jesus said, “Freely you have received. Freely give”.
-Distribute many hundreds of Gospels of John to even more people who expressed interest in reading God’s Word, and distribute many Gospel tracts that contain a solid salvation message.
-Work on writing, printing and distributing two booklets around Mexico, one combating the “gospel of greed” of using God as a means to financial prosperity (since many of the Pentecostal churches here have embraced that doctrine), and the other presenting a simple Biblical message of salvation for those who are lost but seeking.
-Josef attended a Spanish Language school for a short period of time thus far and purchased more necessary materials to help him learn the language faster. It will be very beneficial for the Gospel’s sake for him to speak Spanish.
-Preach in open-air meetings in a busy marketplace in the city of Guadalajara. Many stand to hear the Word of God and the Lord has blessed our pitiful labors by dropping down strong conviction on some hearts and giving us divine appointments with those who profess to desire to forsake their own lives to receive Christ as their own.
-Lead a number of Bible studies for people seeking to learn more about the Way, including some formerly devout Catholics.
These things are but the least we could do for the cause of Him who gave all for our sakes, and truly it is not us that labor, but His grace which works in us for the praise of His glory, and after all the little bit that God has granted us to do, we are still unworthy slaves, unworthy of the least degree of blessing or favor from God and partake of His fullness and life solely on the basis of the merits of Christ alone. These things have not been accomplished for the sake of the Kingdom without their fair share of hardships, however. But God miraculously sustained us even in the midst of numerous trials and physical dangers, and though our flesh is weak, His Spirit is strong. Even when Josef fell sick through a mosquito-borne virus and was confined to bed for 7 days, the grace of God was with us, sustaining and giving hope in the midst of suffering.
Yet we have nothing to boast of (though we have many things to be ashamed of). These things are listed to keep our brethren updated on our progress, to inform those who kindly help to support this work through prayer and giving that your kind support is not vain, and most of all to glorify God and save souls. We thank God continually for the love of our brethren to us in this work and for all the kind help we have received.
Now, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phi. 3:13-14). The past is past, and we dare not despair of it, nor take pride in it, but rather to commit it to God and focus on the here and now and the near future in strategically reaching out with the blessed Gospel of God our great Savior. So that is what we are endeavoring to do now.
Though our initial 6-month commitment has expired, we hope by the mercy of God to continue to spend more time in Mexico laboring for the Kingdom. Our current plans are to remain in the city of Guadalajara for the time being. This is so we may continue to reach out and preach in this city, so Josef may continue to study Spanish (and possibly attend another language school), and to write and print at least one more booklet that would be beneficial for the people in the churches of Mexico. We are hoping to get in to at least one or more drug rehabilitation centers upon our return, and are looking into getting in to the prison as well. There are a lot of drug-addicts in this city and we hope to reach out to them. There are also a number of homeless here and we want to find out where they sleep and bless them in the name of Jesus. In addition to this, we hope to continue the street ministry, preaching in the open air in the busy marketplaces where many have come to listen and we’ve already seen a lot of fruit from it. There are also many sophisticated and well-learned Catholics in this city who are hungry for spiritual truth. In fact, during our outreaches, we have seen about an equal number of homeless and drug addicts as we have seen upper-class Catholics heavily affected by the Word and trying to draw near to God. So we hope to continue reaching out to the Catholics too.
We have already secured a place to hold our meetings on the roof of a large building in the downtown area, and plan to continue to conduct weekly Bible studies at this spot for those who hear us preaching on the streets and want to come for more. We have already had about 6 people show up here in the past for the studies. Many more express interest, hungering to hear the Word of God taught. We hope to establish a more solid fellowship if the Lord is willing, and to not only teach in an expository manner verse-by-verse through the Bible at these meetings, which seems to greatly bless those who listen, but also to sing hymns and worship God (accompanied by a guitar). Oh, that God would grant souls for His glory!
But though we may be stationed in the city of Guadalajara, we don’t necessarily have to be confined to it. We have heard that there are vast areas of places without any churches in the Highlands in the north of the state we are in and are trying to contact some missionaries who work there to see if we can do anything. And there are people all over with need. We are only a half-day’s journey from Mexico City (D.F.) and already have a contact there and a place to stay. And there are many small villages all around that are prime targets for the Jesus Film. While stationed in the city, taking short-term mission trips to various places around is a possibility so long as God supplies the funds.
There is a great need for the Gospel everywhere here, and we alone cannot even begin to meet this need. Our labors seem like they’re but a pebble thrown into the vast ocean. We are praying for more laborers –not just “mission trip” sort of brethren (though that is a good thing too and some are coming to visit!) but for long-term workers to forsake their American lifestyle and to commit themselves to learn Spanish and work with us for the Gospel here. This is a great need. We need Heaven-sent laborers to deny themselves, forsake all, and dedicate themselves to reaping this last-days harvest in this nation. Please pray that God would prepare and send them forth!
So these are some of our future plans, Lord willing. As always, they are all subject to change as the Lord leads. But whatever changes, we hope to busy ourselves with the work of God in Mexico if the Lord permits. We don’t know what the future holds, or how long we have until the return of our Lord.
If you have it on your heart to support us, spiritually by praying or physically by giving, there is need and we thank God for it. And if you are a true believer and walk with God, and you feel the Lord prompting you to labor in the Gospel in Mexico, we may be able to have you for a visit in the near future –contact us. May the name of Jesus Christ be exalted among the nations!
In Christ –Josef & Lina Urban