Dear brethren and friends,
I have not been able to send out an update or a bible teaching the last month, as we have been too busy in other things. As a young missionary, with still under 2 years on the foreign mission field, I am still learning a lot of things that only time and experience can teach. There are so many things I have learned recently that I can only wish were taught to me before ever departing for the mission field, things that would have saved me time and energy and caused our labors to be a little more fruitful. Yet even so, I am humbled and grateful that the hand of God has been with us all along and led us along in His perfect will as we walk by faith and not by sight, and my wife and I both marvel time and time again when the grace of God shows itself strong in miraculous ways in our midst.
One of the things I’ve been learning lately is how to balance my time appropriately. Now I’m not one to squander away precious time when the Lord commands us to redeem the time, so that’s not what I’m talking about. But what I’m talking about is managing priorities, obligations, personal time, and rest time properly. This can all be an extremely difficult balance to find, especially when there are so many things to do that they can’t all possibly get done. But with all this, it is for this reason that I haven’t written an update lately. I felt there have been more important things to do (including rest once in a while!). So I could certainly use prayers for wisdom and guidance in all these details of life and ministry.
So much has happened the last two months that I can’t even possibly try to outline everything. But let me give you some highlights.
EQUIPPING THE SAINTS
I mentioned in our last update how we had found a solid biblical local church in the city here and have had a great time of fellowship with some brethren. I also mentioned that there were some who were coming out to the streets with us to evangelize (for the first time!) by passing out tracts and sharing the Gospel with people. By the grace of God, this ministry has continued, and more have been coming out with us the last couple of months. We have now had about 15 people from this church come to the city with us to evangelize. There are more brethren getting equipped to do the work of evangelism now, which is very encouraging to us.
I have been teaching another young man every week lately, meeting up with him to give him foundations in the faith. He is a new convert and has a lot of struggles of his own (as we all did especially when we were newly converted) and it has been such a privilege and blessing to be able to be there for him at this time. Lina and I are planning on visiting with both him and his wife at their home on a weekly basis now to teach them both the principles of the doctrines of Christ. We had a wonderful time last week as we had dinner with them and answered many of their questions from the Word of God afterwards for several hours, and the Lord is really doing something in both of them. I will purposely spare you the details to protect their privacy. This month, we are planning on teaching them through the book of 1 John verse by verse (overview style with simple exposition) to give them some kind of foundation in basic salvation truths. 1 John is an excellent book to start with in teaching Bible studies, for many reasons. It is addressed to babes in Christ, mature Christians, and fathers in the faith, and has a wide practical application in many ways.
EVANGELISM TRAINING CLASS STARTS
The pastor and elders of the church we’re a part of have now agreed to have us teach a weekly evangelism training class in the meeting house every weekend. This is not something that we went out of our way to try to force our way through this door, but it is something that they have come to agreement on after recognizing the need and seeing the fruit from what we’re already doing (and with the encouragement of another missionary brother, Chris). This is an answer to prayer and we are looking forward to seeing these brethren equipped to effectively share the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. Every Saturday starting tomorrow, Lord willing, we will meet and teach some practical evangelism truths, answer questions, train the brethren, pray for the outreach, and then go together to the downtown region of the city to preach Christ!
I must confess now that I’m praying for an open air preacher. Please join me with your prayers!!! I want a bold open air preacher (at least one) raised up from this group. I want to see someone have his belly filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit and to be burning to preach Christ boldly in the open air. Someone with a real preaching anointing. This is not too much to ask. There are some good prospects already, but a little more maturing, a little more boldness, and more anointing of the Holy Spirit is necessary to see this in them, according the sovereign will and pleasure of our great God.
YOUTH GROUP MINISTRY
I have also been asked to hold meetings for the youth every week in this church. Well, they are “sort of” like youth. Some are 14 and over, and are up to the age of 40. It’s mainly a singles group, but with a lot of youth too. The total number of them is about 40 we’ve been told. This Wednesday, Lord willing, should be our first meeting. I am looking forward to this with great eagerness! Some of these young people are real converts and need someone to really spend time with them and teach them the things of God more profoundly. Others are false converts that have grown up in the church all their lives and have never been born again, being turned off by the hypocrisy around them. I have been asked to pour myself out to them and to preach and hold meetings that will edify the true believers and convict the compromised and religious. We need God to come down and shake the place! Pray for an outpouring of power from on high!
We are not going to have video games, worldly movies, card games, and foolish trinkets of the world in our midst in order to tailor to the carnal lusts of unconverted young rebels. We are going to focus on the glory of God, on glorifying His Son Jesus Christ with our lives, on being sold out for His Kingdom, on reckless abandon to follow Him, on having a heart of passion to obey the Lord Jesus. We will preach the pure Gospel truth to young and old alike and call all men to repentance and faith and to bear fruit meet for repentance and to dedicate themselves as living sacrifices for the Gospel. We will have times of fellowship too, I am sure, and time to get to know more of the young people and build relationships with them and really try to be there for their spiritual needs. Young people don’t need to find their identities and entertainment in the things of this world (especially by bringing the world into the church) but rather they need to see true Christianity lived before their eyes in sincerity and truth.
We have already been spending some time with some of these young adults and fellow brethren and it really seems like the Lord is blessing this a lot. I believe some are truly getting revived and the Lord is really trying to get a hold of them to use them powerfully for His glory.
The evangelistic outreaches are continuing every weekend as we go to the city center and share the Gospel. Our speakers for open air preaching have been broken down for the past month so we haven’t been able to function like normal lately! But we all have been personally ministering with people one to one and the Lord has blessed it. Our speaker was just repaired so Lord willing, we will now be able to preach abroad again! I have missed doing this the past month!
Many of those who are coming have had great conversations with the lost and there are many testimonies we could share but will spare the time.
A DETERRED SUICIDE SEEKS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT JESUS
A wonderful testimony I would like to share. There was a man who heard Lina and I open air preaching about 6 months ago and was affected by the Word but never repented or obeyed anything. He wrote us an email saying “Dios les bendiga” (God bless you) and that he heard us preaching, but we never heard from him again. Well, recently, about a month ago, as we went to the city to preach, we found that our normal spot was occupied by some large event so we couldn’t preach there. So we went to a different location and preached there instead. During the night, one of the sisters with us began talking to somebody there and shared the Gospel with him. Long story short, he was on the verge of committing suicide, planning to go do so right then, when he was stopped by her. He changed his mind and decided that it wouldn’t be the best thing and that it would be better to seek God instead. That’s a good testimony in itself! But then, later in the week, we received an email from that guy that emailed us 5 months ago, requesting to meet up with us when we’re in the city to have a bible study with him. So as we went to the city, we were waiting for him, and when he showed up, we found that it was the same guy! The same guy we had preached to 5 months ago, the same guy that our sister preached to and snatched from the jaws of death, and now he was here to hear more about how to be converted.
We were able to instruct him more in the things of God, and he has even been coming back so we could teach him. He told us that he’s been praying and crying out to God to save him, confessing his sins, asking the Lord to give him the Holy Spirit. He was discouraged that nothing happened immediately, but as we taught him about the cost of discipleship, true faith, and persevering in prayer, he was encouraged again. We are praying that he gets truly converted.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE COVETED
The last newsletter, I wrote about being discouraged at times from not seeing much fruit in our labors and asked for prayer, I believe. Well, thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph in Christ, it seems like the Lord is answering these prayers and is allowing us to have a little more reward from our labors in seeing lives changed by the testimony and power of the Gospel. Your continued prayers are coveted. It has really seemed like the Lord is leading us to minister more to the brethren than to the lost lately and blessing our efforts in this. I have always had a greater passion for the lost who don’t know Christ than for the brethren who already do, but as the Lord is maturing me and causing me to see things from other perspectives in His Word, I am seeing the great importance of ministering to and equipping the brethren. Conversion is just passing through the door of the Kingdom, but spiritual growth is a lifelong process that consists of the journey from there on out!
There was a missionary brother named Chris Berger that was in Guadalajara for a while but has returned to Texas to prepare for future ministry in Mexico, and he was a great blessing to fellowship with and to help us minister to the brethren (or should I say that we helped him, rather!). There truly is a love amongst the real people of God and a level of fellowship that this world knows nothing about! We miss him and lot (and know that he’s probably reading this!). God bless you brother, may the Lord use you to “make His name famous among the nations”.
TRIP TO THE USA
This level of Spanish school for me ends at the end of this month. Then, in the beginning of August we are planning on making a trip to the US (to Ohio and Michigan). We have to leave the country every 6 months to renew our visas and car permit, so we’ll using this time to rest, visit family and brethren, handle some necessary business, and gear up for another round if the Lord wills. We plan on being there for the month of August and returning to Guadalajara by the beginning of September. We may be driving up, or we may be flying. I am not sure yet. But if we’re driving, and you are somewhere on the way and you have a church or fellowship you would like me preach in or share about our work in Mexico, I am open to considering the invitation.
Finally, may the God of grace be with all those who call on His name with a pure heart. Brethren, pray for us!
In CHRIST – Josef