In the last national census conducted in the year 2000, about 6% of Mexicans identified themselves as “Evangelicals”. Of course, this percentage fluctuates greatly from place to place. In some parts of the country, the percentage is over 10%! However, there are other parts among the Spanish speaking of Mexico where the percentage is much lower.
There is a section in the central western part of the country where less than 2% identified themselves as evangelical believers! It is a section composed of 6 states that share a common border. This part of the country has been identified by missiologists as “The Circle of Silence”, being named such because the influence of the Gospel has been largely silent there. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has not seriously or sufficiently penetrated this area of the country and many are much more engulfed in Catholic tradition than in other parts of Mexico, causing them to be much more suspicious of “other religions” and outside missionary influence.
The percentage of believers within the “Circle of Silence” also differs from place to place. Some small cities are dotted with a sufficient number of evangelical churches that can reach their areas with the Gospel. However, other places lack churches altogether, or have such a small number amidst the population that it’s just a drop in the ocean. Many congregations are very weak, lack training in Biblical doctrine, and are anemic when it comes to evangelism and outreach. There is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done in this region of Mexico.
The largest city within this region, Guadalajara, is actually the second largest city in Mexico. The population of the city and the surrounding urban area numbers well over 9 million people. Many of these people come from surrounding areas, including from the highlands of Jalisco, where in many places the evangelical population is known to be just a few among a thousand. Therefore Guadalajara is strategically located as the urban center of the “Circle of Silence” and by dedicating our evangelistic efforts to penetrating the city with the Gospel, we will inevitably influence the surrounding areas. Even though there are many Christian churches in Guadalajara, if you average them out among the number of the population as a whole, you find that there is still a tremendous need to plant churches in the city. The common people just aren’t being reached by the churches.
There’s still many people who haven’t heard the biblical Gospel and the only “gospel” they’ve heard is the “gospel” of the Catholic Eucharist which is never sufficient to save sinners completely and forever. Furthermore, many of the “Christian” churches are more of a shame to Christianity than a help to it. False doctrines permeate many churches, such as the “prosperity gospel” and false ideas of what true conversion is. On top of that, not everyone who identifies themselves as “evangelical” actually holds to essential Christian beliefs. For instance, the “Apostolics” (Oneness Penetecostals) have a huge influence within Guadalajara and in some areas outnumber the real evangelicals. Yet their “gospel” is that you must be baptized in water to be saved, and that in the name of “Jesus only”, and you must also speak in tongues, or else you’re not born again. They also dogmatically deny the Trinity which is an essential, biblical, historic Christian belief. So even among the “evangelicals” many are false and preach adulterated ideas. Other cults also have a tremendous influence here, including the Jehovah-Witnesses, Mormons, Luz del Mundo, and Seventh Day Adventists. Yet even so, the vast majority still identify themselves as Roman Catholics.
But in spite of this shocking reality, and in the face of the spread of such innumerable counterfeit ways to God, the true people of God need to take a stand and launch out in holy boldness to penetrate Guadalajara with the Gospel. We must not be cowards. We must not back off and let the Devil inoculate the masses with his deadly poison without challenge. Where is our jealousy for the name and glory of our God? Where is our passion for the One whose passion caused His blood to be poured out to wash away our sins? We must stand up and proclaim Jesus Christ!
That is what we’re doing, by the grace of God. Our strategy is simple: PREACH THE GOSPEL!
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God…. For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Cor. 1:18, 21)
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). Even though the hearts of men are hard, even though the nature of man is totally depraved and in bondage to sin, there is a glorious power in the Gospel which liberates men from the prison of their iniquity that they may serve God in truth. As the Gospel is preached, God is working to accomplish His purpose. As the Word is proclaimed, God by His mighty power will open the eyes of sinners and turn them from the power of Satan to God. By His own will He will bring forth sons unto glory by the Word of truth as the Gospel is preached. So that is our strategy. Proclaiming the Gospel IS the work of missions.
PRAY FOR GUADALAJARA. Please pray that God would continue to grant open doors for the utterance of the Gospel. Pray that the Holy Spirit would work powerfully to save sinners and edify saints. Pray that the Lord would raise up more laborers to work in this vast, humongous, neglected harvest field. Pray that Jesus Christ would be glorified and receive the worship that is due His name among those He’s chosen in this city.
Pray that the “Circle of Silence” would turn into the “Circle of Thunder”, a place from which God thunders forth the glorious Good News of Jesus Christ to the rest of the nation. All things are possible with God.
Open Air Evangelism
We have been blessed to see the Lord at work lately in our open air meetings. God is raising up more laborers and several more men from the church are getting involved and coming out to the streets with us. Recently, we decided to start preaching without a speaker and just go John the Baptist style (voice only). To our surprise, more people actually gathered together to listen, and we’ve been able to keep a crowd for more than an hour at a time.
Here’s some pictures from a recent Open Air Meeting, showing the people gathering:
It’s such a wonderful thing to have the privilege of preaching your guts out to a bunch of Catholics and people who really need Jesus right out in the streets where they are! Where else are we going to be able to proclaim the Gospel to them? They’re not going to just step into our churches, we need to carry the Church to them by carrying the Gospel that has been entrusted to the Church to them! To proclaim the Good News which liberates the captives from the bondage of sin and religious deception is a privilege granted to men that not even the angels enjoy! To proclaim Christ and make Him known –that, my brethren, is the Church’s high and holy calling!
After we finished one open air sermon recently, numerous people came forward asking the team for more instruction in the things of God. The crowd didn’t want to leave! Many stood around for a while, waiting to see if we would preach again, and we just didn’t have enough people on our team to engage them all in personal conversation. Also, as I stepped down from my soapbox, a young man also came right up to me and said in brokenness: “I don’t know Jesus Christ, but I want to. How can I know Him?” What a beautiful question! In another meeting, an alcoholic stood in the midst of the crowd weeping and crying out to God for mercy with a loud voice! He appeared to be desperately panicking for mercy. After letting him listen for a while, brother Aaron talked to him, and he threw away a bottle of liquor he had and they prayed together for the Lord to deliver him. The man told me later, “Your words wounded me, but his words healed me”. Glory to God, that’s the double edged sword of the blessed Word –it breaks hard hearts but then the precious balm of Gilead found in the Gospel heals those wounded hearts! In the same meeting, a brother on our team talked to a woman who listened intently for a long time. She said that she had never thought about the things of God, had never wanted to serve the Lord, but now after hearing wants to give her life to Christ! Another time, as we were preaching, a woman came up weeping profoundly. She said (paraphrased), “God has forgiven me! I know God loves me now! I surrendered my life to Christ and I felt a heavy burden lift off! Now I know God loves me! I know my sins are forgiven!” Her and another on our team wept together and prayed to the Lord in joy for the work of His Spirit. Another time, after we finished preaching, a young man came up requesting prayer for healing of some heart problems. After we prayed, he said he felt heat in his heart and like some kind of pressure left him. (Did he get healed? I don’t know, but the Lord definitely touched him.) He said that he would start reading the Bible and seeking the Lord.
These are testimonies which GLORIFY GOD. Christ is real, He is alive, and He has all power to destroy the works of the devil. He is the King of Glory, and He is worthy to be proclaimed! If His Church will mobilize and obey the Great Commission, then He will step forward and meet them in their place of need, and He will touch the lost world through His people. THIS GOSPEL MUST BE PREACHED AS A WITNESS TO ALL NATIONS. This means that WE (the Church, the people of God) have the responsibility of preaching it. We are nothing brethren, absolutely nothing but DUST of the earth, and the only life we have has been breathed into our nostrils by the breath of God –it’s not ours to live, but it’s our to give… all to Christ, all to His glory.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2).
VIDEOS of Open Air Preaching
Blessed be the name of the Lord, who has allowed me by His grace, to recently preach my first sermon in Spanish.
See here: Jesucristo te puede librar.
Here’s a couple of open air preaching videos from the last month (English w/ Spanish translation):
Are you Ready for Judgment Day?
Come to Christ and be Saved!Here’s a video of Aaron preaching in Spanish:
Hay Salvacion en el Evangelio.
Other Highlights from this Month:
-Brother Aaron has arrived and has been with us for about a month now.He has been with us preaching the Gospel and evangelizing in the city and translating teaching materials to distribute to brethren in the Spanish speaking world.
-The Way of the Master basic evangelism training course in Spanish, produced by Ray Comfort, is now being taught in our church. It is a 4 week course in all, with 8 lessons, taught for 2 nights per week. There are about 180 people that are attending. The church has worked hard to present it appealingly and has even made professional banners and Powerpoint presentations to go with it. Hopefully it can be used in other churches in Mexico also. We are praying and hoping that it will stir up more brethren to get serious about sharing their faith with strangers and bring more souls into the Kingdom of God. We've already been hearing from some of the people that it is encouraging them and equipping them and they're getting bolder in sharing their faith with strangers. Our church has even ordered thousands of tracts to give to the people each week with homework assignments to pass them out and start conversations with strangers and come back and share testimonies about what they experienced. Here’s a few pictures:
-Aaron and I went with the pastor of our church to minister to a man who has become completely crippled by a horrible accident. He lost nearly all movement of his limbs and cannot even talk. He can barely move his head and one of his arms. His wife has been faithfully taking care of him for the last few years ever since the accident as he requires constant attention day and night. It was so sad to see this man helpless and unable to even talk. But he seems to understand everything and the way he says “yes” is he blinks his eyes really hard. As we prayed, and as the pastor shared the Gospel with him, he seemed to take it all in. Streams of tears began to flow down his face. As the pastor was asking him, “Do you want to repent and believe on Christ? Blink your eyes hard if you do.” –And the man blinked his eyes as hard as he could. The pastor said, “Cry out to Him! Cry out with all your heart and ask Him to save you!” The tears streamed down and he began to make audible groans and move around. It was such a tremendous experience. Before this, the man was perfectly normal, a tall, healthy, respectable man with a job, a family, and a normal life. But now he is reduced to a state more helpless than a little child and living off a feeding tube. I pray to God that he truly believed on the Lord and surrendered his heart to Christ. His wife congregates in our church here and she often reads the Bible to him and plays CD’s of the sermons from the church for him to listen to. To see her love for her husband remain the same even though he became helpless and has nothing to offer her anymore and to see her serving him day and night with such patience and longsuffering showed me a glimpse of the servant-hood of Christ on behalf of unworthy sinners like us. And this is not even half the story, but I can’t betray personal details. The Lord really used this experience to teach me a lot, blessed be His name. We have no idea how blessed so many of us are to even have a voice with which to declare the glories of the precious Savior! God gave us our lives, our voices, the strength of our bodies, our minds, our abilities, and everything we have for the SOLE PURPOSE OF GLORIFYING HIM. Don’t waste your life!
-I have been teaching every weekend on basics doctrines of the faith. So far we have given an overview of the Bible, talked about the necessity, inerrancy, inspiration, and clarity of Scripture, reasons why it is the Word of God, and what should and shouldn’t be included in the canon of Scripture. We’ve also looked at how to interpret the Bible and I taught on basic principles of good hermeneutics. The feedback has been very positive thus far. The next couple of weeks I will be teaching on the doctrine of the Trinity, followed by an overview of the attributes of God. All these lessons are being typed out in English and Spanish and Lord willing, I will release the first few lessons on our website soon so everybody can read them. Ultimately, it is my hope to develop it into an entire course of training in Christian doctrine to distribute to Christians around Mexico through correspondence and internet, especially to those in remote villages who don’t have access to theological training and lack financial resources to buy good books, if we can develop a method to get it into their hands. Such a program, I think, would be very effective in spreading the pure Gospel truth of Jesus Christ around Mexico. Pray that the Lord would reach Mexico with the truth of His glorious Word!
-Brother Artemio has also continued to come to our house every week. I am continuing to instruct him in sound doctrine and have also started showing him the Way of the Master DVD’s in Spanish. It has been a great time of fellowship and he says that he’s been learning a lot. The brother doesn’t have a lot of resources, and has been asking the Lord for a new Bible. Here’s a picture of his current Bible that he’s used for years:
As you can see, it’s falling apart and it’s all raggedy. Also, as he’s getting older it’s getting harder and harder for him to read the small print. Blessed be the Lord, we were able to purchase him a new Bible with bonded leather, large print, and thumb tabs. It has been ordered and we hope to give it to him soon. As a side note here, just look at his Bible again... how many of us soak ourselves in the Word of God so much that our Bibles turn out looking like that? When a man has a Bible that looks like that, all beaten up, torn up around the edges, taped together, and highlighted on every page, you know that he's spent some time with God. Brother Artemio also has over 200 songs that he has written that he sings to the Lord. It's been a blessing to know him and to be able to help him out. Here's a picture of him preaching in centro (he's in the center with the blue shirt):
-There’s much more I’d like to share, but I just don’t have time to keep writing. Tomorrow Lord willing I'll be preaching in a drug rehab center that begged us to come and give them the Word of God. Then in five days, Lord willing, we'll be travelling to a small village on the West coast of Mexico to distribute Bibles and preach the Gospel. We're also going to survey it and see if it's a good place to show some evangelistic films and do follow up. Then when we return we’ll be traveling up to San Antonio, Texas to handle some important paperwork and also spend a week with Grace Community Church and a missionary couple there. Upon our return, we hope to begin having meetings in our house and invite the neighborhood to come hear the Word of God. Your earnest beseechings before the Throne of grace on our behalf are greatly coveted, my dear brothers and sisters. And also I send a hearty giving of thanks to the Lord for those who have helped to hold the rope for us as we labor in Mexico. May you share in the joy of the reward of our labor. My sovereign Lord will not forget about your kindness to us, His unworthy servants.
FOR THE GOSPEL IN MEXICO.
HE COMES QUICKLY.
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