Category Archives: Evangelism

On the way to the mechanic

Life in Uruguay can be different from my life as it was living in southern California or in St. Louis, Missouri. Take getting the car fixed for instance. In the U.S., if I needed the car fixed, I would leave it with my mechanic and ask my wife to pick me up. When it was done, she would drop me off and I would pick it up.

Here in Montevideo, we only have one car. The picture to the left is not our car, but I thought it was cool – so I put it here for you to enjoy. The cost of living in Uruguay is very high and the salaries are lower than in the U.S. Also, all vehicles are manufactured outside of Uruguay, which means there is no local Uruguayan car industry as far as I know. The government charges high import taxes, putting the value of even a used car at around double as it would cost in the U.S. Sometimes even more than that. Many people don’t even own one car, much less two. Thankfully Montevideo has a good public transportation system, including buses and taxis. For our first year here we had no access to a vehicle unless someone lent us one or we rented one. Thankfully, our second year we were able to borrow a car and our third year we were able to purchase one due to the generous contributions of several individuals.

But I diverge. What does all this have to do with the mechanic? Because we only have one car, when I take it to the mechanic I usually have to do a lot of walking to get to an appropriate bus stop – unless I want to spend more money and get a taxi. And when one walks, one sees more of the city.

A couple of weeks ago I was walking along and saw a beautiful Mormon building. It was made of bricks and had a great basketball court outside. I’m not sure what they call it. Is it a church? Is it a local meeting place for their ward? I’m not sure. What I do know is that their theology departs from the historic Christian faith. Their conception of God is very different and they deny the Trinity. They also adhere to a works oriented salvation, whereas the Bible teaches that we are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – God incarnate, the Second Person of the Trinity (Eph. 2:8-9; John 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:1).

I have seen many Mormon missionaries and even ran into a whole slew of them while out hiking Pan de Azucar, a small mountain a couple of hours outside of Montevideo. Michele and I also had a couple of young ladies into our home to discuss the true meaning of the gospel. Needless to say they were trying to convert us and we were trying to convert them.

The reason I bring this up is to bring up two points: commitment to evangelism and the need for the true gospel. The Mormons have an army of missionaries. While the evangelical church has a number of workers in Uruguay and the Reformed churches have sent four full time missionary families, the Mormons have dozens and dozens on the ground right now. This is not to mention their continuing cycle of sending more after their terms are up. There is true commitment. We should be asking ourselves this question: How committed are we to working toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, teaching them all that Christ has commanded and baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:18-20)?

The other point has to do with the truth. We believe that the Mormons don’t have it right. They have departed from the Bible and have created a false system of worship. When Jesus said to make disciples of all nations, He said that we should be teaching everything He commanded. That implies the full counsel of God. The whole Bible. In Uruguay and throughout the world today there is a great need for men and women to bring the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. The nations need the truth of the gospel, and what they need even more is the Person who is the Truth – Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).

So next time you are walking to the mechanic or driving or however you get there, be sure and pray that God will raise up an army of laborers that will be committed to declaring the gospel to the ends of the earth. And pray that God will use you and other Christians to share that message of truth and the Lordship of Christ to all who will listen. Who knows, maybe God could be calling you to be more involved in World Evangelization!

English Outreach

Our missionary teammate, Rev. Markus Jeromin, has been focusing on English outreach, among other things. He started an English Bible study on Wednesday nights, and two English classes on Saturday afternoons. Both of these outreaches have proven to be effective as a way to show love in the community and as a way to develop relationships.

If you remember from past prayer letters, the Jeromin family signed up to come in 2016 to help our mission while our other teammates, the Richline family, have been on furlough. They have settled in well here, and have developed some good relationships in the community. Although they originally planned to be here just one year, they are hoping to be able to stay with our mission for the next three years, through our next furlough. We need more laborers. They were willing to drop what they were doing in their lives in the U.S. and bring their 4 young children to answer the call to serve here. God has blessed their work abundantly and has blessed us with their friendship.

Please pray that the Jeromin family may be able to continue serving in Uruguay longer, if the Lord wills. Please also ask the Lord to bless the English outreaches.

God and the Problem of Evil

Picture of a cross in MontevideoOur missionary teammates departed for furlough and left us their car to use until they return in 11 months. After having lived 13 months without a car, this gives us a chance to see what life is like for those in Uruguay who have a car. It also adds certain responsibilities like driving safely in a place where the rules seem crazy at times as well as taking care of regular maintenance like purchasing new tires. This was the task that I set out to do, not realizing at first that I would once again be in a taxi talking with the driver about the things of God.

It was a crazy morning. I had to arrive at the garage early to drop off the car, catch a taxi back home, pick up Michele, take her in a taxi to the hospital for a pregnancy checkup and then drop Michele home via taxi and take same taxi to the garage to pick up the car! Thankfully everything worked out smoothly and now we have four new tires and assurance that our baby’s heart continues to beat normally!

One unexpected encounter was with the first taxi driver, though God is sovereign and nothing is a surprise for him. As usually happens around here, people want to know why we are living as foreigners in a foreign land. I told him that I am a pastor and we are working here with the Church. This is the point where I get to share about what kind of church it is and where and when we meet (in case the driver wants to visit). After sharing that, I asked him if he went to church. His answer was not surprising, knowing that Uruguay is the most secular nation in the Americas: he does not attend church and has no interest in doing so.

“Really?” I said, “Do you believe in God?” That started a conversation which lasted all the way home about God and what is historically known as the problem of evil. The problem is usually put two ways: Continue reading God and the Problem of Evil

God in Shopping

ShoppingChildren always seem to outgrow or ruin perfectly good clothes in a short period of time. It is especially difficult to keep up with buying the right clothes when one has 7 children to look after! Last Saturday I went to the mall here in Montevideo (called “Shopping” by the locals) to buy some pants and shorts for our boys. The process involved the inevitable and dreaded dressing room (which all young boys love, right?). As the boys were trying on clothes, I spoke with the employee working at the dressing room.

The man was friendly and looked to be about 50 something years old. As we were talking I shared that I work with the church and am a pastor. That is something I have to get out right up front because every new person I meet wants to know why we have come to live in Uruguay. Actually, it is a great opportunity to start conversation about the Lord or about their beliefs. I get all kinds of responses varying from the surprised exclamation of “oh!” to the apathetic change of topic – which must signal a desire on the part of the person that they are not interested in the things of God. In this case the employee seemed pleased and shared with me that his granddaughter had been sick with a brain infection a few months ago. It looked very serious and they thought she would not make it long. But God in his mercy allowed her to recover and she is well. He shared that the doctors all say it must be some kind of miracle and he seemed thankful to God.

In my limited time with him we were not able to get into all the details of his personal religious beliefs nor an explanation of the gospel message, but I was able to invite him to church. He indicated he might be able to walk over after work on Sunday and visit the service. We pray that the Lord will indeed lead him to come and hear from God’s Word. Though not every conversation in public hits all the main points of the gospel message or draws out the details of the person’s personal beliefs, seeds are planted and the conversation can usually be directed to the Lord in some way. In this case there was the realization that the Lord God is the one responsible for the healing of this man’s granddaughter and I was able to give him a gospel tract with my phone number and the church web site. God is at work in all kinds of ways!

Second Annual Reformation Conference

Carlos Telfer“Uruguay needs what this conference has to offer,” said a missionary to Ray during our Reformation Conference. He was referring to the solid Biblical teaching that was the center of the conference that Montevideo’s two Presbyterian churches put on jointly. Indeed, we have heard exciting news from surrounding countries in South America–Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and others–of a great resurgence of Bible-centered, Reformed theology. Too often false teachings, a focus on great signs and extraordinary experiences, and a lack of Biblical knowledge have been running free through the evangelical world in Latin America. But the Holy Spirit has been at work as well, creating a hunger and thirst for God’s Word. It is to this end that the second annual Reformation Conference has been hosted in Montevideo as a way to provide education on the basic foundation of the Protestant Reformation, calling all Christians back to a faith that is focused on Christ alone, faith alone, grace alone, Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone. Iglesia Presbiteriana del Uruguay, offered their facilities for the venue and Dr. Charles Telfer, Professor of Biblical Languages at Westminster Seminary in Escondido was our speaker. He lectured about the work of John Calvin, Johannes Cocceius and the little known reformer Campegius Vitringa – highlighting their contributions to our understanding of the Bible and theology as well as their commitment to truth. Continue reading Second Annual Reformation Conference

What it is Like to Invite Folks to our First Service

Primer Culto FolletoThe day was bright and sunny but rather cold. I had walked my daughter to her ballet lessons and decided to visit some of the local businesses where I had met individuals over the course of the past 10 months. I was hoping to hand them a flyer and invite them to our first official worship service this coming Lord’s Day. We have been working on a new church plant in the neighborhood of La Blanqueada in the city of Montevideo – the capital of Uruguay.

Though we have made several contacts in the community, we still have no core group of folks other than our two missionary families. Of course, we just began working in earnest on the new work a few months ago, but we were hoping that the Lord would send us some mature Christians as well as new believers (through evangelism) by now. Our prayer is that we might see the miracle of regeneration before our very eyes as our gracious and sovereign God brings people to faith in the Lord Jesus. There are so many that are living apart from Christ and have no idea of their need – either completely oblivious or actively suppressing the knowledge of God. Thankfully, we have faith that the Lord is able to change their hearts and know that no matter how opposed or apathetic to the gospel they seem, the Lord can use us to challenge them to turn their attention to the things of God. Like the Apostle Paul, they may be “kicking against the goads”  (Acts 26:14) but the Lord can suddenly intervene and turn their lives upside down.

After dropping off my daughter, I entered a store to invite a clerk that I had spoken with on a number of occasions. When I offered him the flyer, he would not take it. It turns out he is a Roman Catholic and is opposed to even accepting the flyer, much less visiting the church. Another encounter was with our veterinarian. She was kind to take the flyer, but explained that she does not practice any religion. I assured her that everyone is invited, whether they have a religion or not. Another stop took me to the bakery where I invited the owner. He said he would be working during our worship service. Coming to the hardware store I was surprised that it was closed already. I’ll have to pass by there another time to invite my friend the hardware owner. He is very interested in religions of all sorts – meeting with an Eastern meditation group and studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses.

One benefit of doing this has been the opportunity to learn about the trials of neighbors. One shop owner shared with me that his mother is in very grave condition in the hospital. A neighbor shared with me that his son (who is about my age) is in the hospital for heart problems. They aren’t sure what the treatment will be or how serious it is yet. I assured both the shop owner and my neighbor that I would be sure to pray for their loved ones. We live in a lost and fallen world where suffering is everywhere, but we hope in Christ who has come to offer grace and eternal life to broken sinners. I am thankful that in the age to come there will be no more suffering nor sin (Rev. 21:4). I’m also thankful that we can share the message of the hope of Jesus (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; Rom. 10:9-10; Rom. 1:3-4) with others in this age and pray that all God’s people (including myself) will remain faithful, all the while praying for more boldness (Eph. 6:19-20) and open doors for the gospel!

Taxi Driver Evangelism

TaxiThey have taken over the streets of Montevideo. You can’t hide from them. They are everywhere. What are they? Taxis. In any given day there is a sea of taxis buzzing up and down the roads of Uruguay’s capital. Yellow and white with reflective tape, a sign that says “Taxi” and unique license plates, members of this army of vehicles are hard to miss – except when you need one. The other day I went to run several errands and ended up several blocks off of my bus route and rather too far to walk home. Continue reading Taxi Driver Evangelism