Dear Brethren and Friends,
We praise God for all that has been happening lately down here. Several weeks ago, we started a new church plant in Querétaro, which is a major city a couple of hours Northwest from Mexico City, and strategically located between Guadalajara and Mexico City. Now that we are having Lord's Day meetings with the congregations in Guadalajara and Mexico City every Sunday, this opened up our Saturday's to begin preaching in Querétaro. The response has been surprising. The Lord is quickly raising up a church in Querétaro! They are now congregating on Saturday's for the live exposition of Scripture, on Sunday's to watch a sermon video, exhort one another and eat together, and on Thursdays for a prayer meeting, crying out for the Lord to save souls and build His church! May Christ be glorified in yet another city!
Recently, a friend and Brother in the Lord came down to visit us for a month. He decided to write a report of his trip, and since he expresses himself so well, and seems to capture something of what is happening here, we decided to send out his report as our newsletter. The author of the report below, Austin Dooley, is from Redeeming Grace Church in Colombia, MO (http://www.rgcolumbia.org/). It was a blessing to have him visit.
In Christ -Josef Urban
Here's Brother Austin's report:
The Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to spend the last month with missionary and pastor Josef Urban. I have lived in his home along with his wife, Lina, four children they are fostering, and a10-month old baby of their own, Josiah. I purposed to spend as much time near Josef as I could, be it in ministry or mundanity, and the Lord has impressed upon me the great joy and burden of whole-hearted service in spirit exhibited in his life. Looking back, the body of my time here consisted of moving boxes, exhausting trips, and sweet communion with brethren, but the recurring theme, like an uplifting refrain was that of honest, hopeful expectation of revival.
Josef’s primary labor for the last three years has been pastoring the church he planted in Guadalajara. Meetings began with a few people gathered in the house where his family, along with his recently married co-laborer, Aaron, lives. Since then, the church has grown substantially, but the house has not. The Lord providentially allowed them out of their contract with an unreasonable landlord, by means of eviction. Although this added a burden of moving the families and church into separate locations during an exceptionally busy time, the church has found a place that will comfortably fit the Sunday congregation, which has grown to as many as 140 people. It may not be as free from distraction as the solitary office in the Himalayas Josef sometimes dreams of, but the Urban's will certainly enjoy more peace and privacy in a home of their own as well.
Since planting the church, Josef has had the privilege to see the Lord work many miracles of salvation and grow the church substantially. However this puts him in a somewhat unique and difficult situation of pastoring a church that consists primarily of young converts. Although the church is spiritually young, the Lord has knit together a group of committed members, which, by His grace, will grow to around 50 people in the coming weeks.
The Lord has plainly glorified himself both in the sanctification and maturing of His saints, and by convicting the lost who meet with the church. Recently, He accomplished these two works in a conference hosted by the church, taught by the dear brother Paul Walker, a pastor in Colorado. He has been making trips to preach in Latin America for forty years, and was brought to tears while trying to compare the hunger he now sees for Truth, to the dead, hard-hearted souls he used to preach to at the beginning of his ministry. After five teachings on the Gospel, it was evident the Lord had stirred the hearts of many, especially from wrong views of God’s sovereignty, falsely blaming Him for their inability to be saved. After the conference, Brother Walker expressed he was truly convinced he had been preaching in a land on the verge of revival.
The Lord’s provision of eager hearts and Biblical teaching in Mexico has not been restricted to Guadalajara. Josef and Aaron have been preaching to a group in Mexico City for a time as well. From that work, a church has been raised that faithfully evangelizes, fellowships, and ministers to the more than 100 people who now regularly attend the Sunday morning meetings. I was blessed to attend their first member’s meeting, then celebrate the Lord’s Supper, unified, with brothers I hardly knew, in the Spirit, because of Christ’s death.
Several months ago, the church in Guadalajara also felt led to begin praying about whether to begin preaching in Queretaro, a city between Guadalajara and Mexico City. For the next three consecutive weeks, unrelated families from Queretaro with no knowledge of each other came to the Sunday meetings in Guadalajara, asking when someone could come and preach in their city. The first and second meetings, in which Josef preached, were held this month, each attended by over 100 people. After hearing the true gospel of God’s grace for the first time, many decided to leave their churches, abandoning false gospels and doctrines of perfectionism. The Lord has made it clear to Josef that he should consistently preach there as well.
By the end of this month, Josef will be the only elder ministering to three bodies, in different cities. In all three places, Josef regularly spends hours after each sermon answering questions, giving spiritual counsel, and listening to testimonies of salvation. He makes it clear that the biblical model is a plurality of pastors per church, not a plurality of churches per pastor, and is expectantly waiting on the Lord to raise up and/or send more laborers. He looks forward to the arrival of Josue Contreras, a brother who has been pastoring a church in Texas but feels called to labor alongside Josef, in early July.
The ministry of the gospel through literature and online sermons has also shown fruitful. The website where church information and Josef’s sermons are posted, cristianismobiblico.com, now gets several thousand unique visitors daily. This month, the plans were also finalized to print 15,000 copies of Charles Leiter’s book, Justification and Regeneration, which, Lord-willing, will soon be put in the hands of pastors and ministry leaders across Mexico.
Nonetheless, this evening, like nearly every other evening, Josef looked up wearily and confessed how little he accomplished, how another day was gone. Along with a seemingly endless list of things that need to be done in the churches he does pastor, he has received requests to preach from many cities all all over Mexico, requests he now doesn’t even have time to consider. There are many true Christians driving for hours to attend Biblical church meetings, and seemingly promising opportunities to try to start laboring in surrounding cities where they come from. In the five and a half years since the Lord saved me and called me to share the Gospel in the United States, one of the most confusing scriptures to me has been Matthew 9:37; “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” I never understood where this plentiful harvest was, why salvation felt like such a precious rarity. I can’t say I have always evangelized with enough faith, that I have sufficiently prayed for the lost of my country, or that I know the mind of God and his perfect plan for salvation, but I can say that these words of Christ are clearly being fulfilled, right now, in Mexico. “Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
UPDATE: By God's grace and merciful provision, we have received sufficient funds for this project and are distributing the books!
This post details the current project we are working on to mass distribute a book detailing two essential theological topics to the leadership of the churches of Mexico for the sake of spreading biblical truth in this nation and positively influencing the church with sound doctrine.
Who are we?
We are church planting missionaries based out of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. We currently work in Guadalajara, Mexico City, and other places. Our ministry team consists of Josef and Lina Urban, Aaron and Cassandra Block, and a couple of other brothers in Mexico who co-labor together with us in the Gospel. Josef and Lina are missionaries under the oversight of Grace Community Church of San Antonio, TX (www.gccsatx.com).
To read more about us and see an overview of our work, please visit the following two links:
About us: http://www.puregospeltruth.com/about-us.html
Overview of our Ministry: http://www.puregospeltruth.com/our-ministry.html
What is the J & R Project?
“J & R” stands for “Justification and Regeneration”, which is a book written by pastor and teacher Charles Leiter of Lake Road Chapel (www.lakeroadchapel.org). This project is an endeavor to print the Spanish translation of this book en masse at extremely low costs in order to distribute it in Mexico. This distribution will take place in two ways:
1) The book will be given to pastors and churches leaders all over Mexico. We want every church leader in Mexico to receive a copy of this book, and plan to give it away (for free) to every church leader we come across, urging and exhorting them to read it. (For more info on why we hope to do this, please read below)
2) The book will be sold at or almost at cost so that brethren in Mexico who desire to purchase a quantity for the sake of giving them away can obtain them at an extremely cheap price. We will sell them to brethren, evangelism groups, and churches across Mexico by the box and by the case so others can give them away and we can recuperate a part of our expenses. The idea is similar to what Desiring God does with some of Piper’s titles by means of their “Outreach Case Specials” (see example here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/ready-to-move-books-in-bulk). In these boxes and cases, we would sell the books to brethren for about $1 (one dollar) each, making them extremely accessible and ideal for giving away.
We have brother Leiter’s permission to go forward with this project, and we have trustworthy printers in Mexico who are willing to mass-print the book for us with a written contract that the printed copies will turn out identical to the original, who have also given us pricing quotes for the printing. Everything is a green light –we currently only lack the finances to make it a reality.
How many books do you plan on distributing?
This depends on how large of a print run we are able to accomplish, but we are aiming at printing either 5,000 or 10,000 books for the sake of distribution.
How will we accomplish this giveaway to church leaders?
By all means possible. In Guadalajara, we have a church plant in which about 100 persons are congregating, and in Mexico City, we have another congregation. Between all these brethren, we have lots of contacts with church leaders in different areas, and our congregants can help us get these books into these pastor’s and church leader’s hands.
Furthermore, we have a Spanish website (www.cristianismobiblico) in which we receive about 1600 unique visits per day, many of which come from Mexico. We plan to put a button on the webpage offering a “Free theology book” to pastors and church leaders. When they click on the button, it will take them to a page where they can fill out a form with their address, and we will mail them the book.
In addition to all this, Josef teaches in conferences on the Gospel and biblical evangelism from time to time in different places in Mexico, at which there are usually groups of pastors present representing different churches that come to the training. Through this conference ministry, many books can land in the hands of church leaders.
We also hope to send boxes of books to the ministry and missionary contacts we have in Mexico who are in contact with many different pastors and church leaders in different circles and denominations, so that our contacts can get the books into the hands of all their contacts amongst the leadership of the churches. We have ministry contacts in the states of Jalisco, Baja California, Mexico, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Guerrero, and in the Yucatan.
Why give the book away to church leaders?
First of all, because they have the most influence over Christianity in Mexico. If we can reach them, we can reach the whole church of Mexico. Secondly, because those who respond positively and want to spread the word can give us more contacts with other church leaders they know, and in turn, help to distribute the book to the leadership of the churches. Thirdly, because many pastors are not able to make large investments in Christian literature for the sake of study, and so their exposure to literature which promotes sound doctrine is limited and sometimes, non-existent. They very much appreciate having free resources given to them. Fourthly, because when church leaders do make it to the Christian bookstore to purchase literature, they typically fall for all the modern hype and fluff that lines the shelving (think Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, etc.).
Why this book?
J & R explains two of the Bible’s most important doctrines regarding soteriology, which together constitute the very heart of the Gospel, and it manages to do so in simple language that anybody can understand.
Mexico’s greatest need is biblical truth. The church (and the professing church) is generally weak and anemic when it comes to doctrine and theology. The typical understanding of the Gospel is superficial and shallow. Biblical conversion is often misunderstood, manipulative methods of evangelism are many times practiced, and the true biblical doctrine of regeneration is rarely preached or heard in most churches. “Justification and Regeneration” is a perfect book to help correct these errors. It is rich with quotations from God’s Word, explains things simply, and details the doctrine of regeneration with theological depth and faithfulness to Scripture. Plus it is not an extremely large book, which makes it more likely to be read by most pastors. Plus we know of firsthand testimonies of how God, according to His sovereign pleasure, has been pleased to use this book to open blind eyes to the truth of biblical salvation, and to be instrumental in the conversion of souls.
What else do you have in mind?
We are praying and hoping that this project will be the beginning of a much larger distribution project that will facilitate the reading of sound biblical literature amongst the churches of Mexico for the sake of much-needed reformation and revival in this country. If all goes as planned, and if the Lord permits and gives His blessing, we hope to increase the amount of resources we are giving to church leaders in Mexico, including classic literature (Spurgeon, Puritans, etc), books, DVD’s, CD’s, study guides, and other resources. But before this happens, we need to start small and begin with one important title, and J & R is the perfect title to begin with.
Dear brethren and friends,
We give the Lord thanks for all our dear brothers and sisters who faithfully pray for us and support our mission. God has been gracious to us, and we hope and pray you are ever experiencing greater outpourings of grace and blessings from on high as you seek to glorify the worthy name of Jesus Christ, counting this world as dung and rubbish that you may gain Christ. Are you living for Him?
Only one life; twill soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ will last!
And when I’m gone how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life had been burned out for Thee!
May the Lord help us and make us willing in the day of His power to glorify our risen Savior in the midst of a twisted and perverse generation.
Here is an overview of what is happening:
First, an update on the family. Baby Josiah is now 4 months old, and growing a lot. He has been healthy, with the exception of the sickness he now has which is causing a fever and congestion. Your prayers for our little guy are so much appreciated. Lina is doing well. The 4 boys are doing well. Cesar got beat up the other day by an older kid because he was preaching to him. Cesar actually managed to seat all these kids down that he went to school with, and as they were seated in a row, he got out his Bible and began calling out their sin and preaching the Gospel to them. Our 4 boys, even though they’re homeschooled, have to go to school every so often to take periodic tests for the sake of academic advancement recognized by the government, so they preach at recess! They actually stand up with a Bible and passionately open air preach to all the kids. Then they come home with stories about how they were persecuted, cussed at, and mocked by the other kids, and how the teachers rebuke them and forbid them to preach. Cesar actually got walloped pretty bad and had an ugly wound on his shoulder from being slammed into a wall by a bigger kid who got angry at him for preaching and telling him that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire. No one told them to do this, and yet they keep doing it. Lina and I have never told them to preach at school, yet they keep doing it. Yet I want to be careful not to discourage them and quench their zeal. Please pray much for these little guys. Please pray for Lina also, who is consumed with caring for baby Josiah.
We have started a new church plant. I have been travelling to Mexico City every Saturday since the first weekend of November in order to preach and hold meetings in a hotel conference room. It is a long story how all this came about, but the providence of God lead us launch forth in this new endeavor. On that first weekend in November, I was expecting just a small handful of people to show up, and to my surprise, over 100 people came to the meeting! We have a steady attendance of about 80 people now every Saturday evening. In addition to preaching, I have been meeting with these people personally and am seeking to help them and counsel them on many issues and struggles they have. There is scarcely a meeting that is not interrupted by an outburst of tears. Some of these people seem to demonstrate a real hunger for the Word. Many of these people come from bad churches (I will spare you the details) and are desperate to be a part of a biblical church, and a good handful are new converts. They are growing in truth and sanctification and we have been blessed to hear of the conversion of some of them recently.
So you may wonder how I’m able to preach in Mexico City and in Guadalajara at the same time? Well, I take a bus to Mexico City early on Saturday morning, arrive Saturday afternoon, preach on Saturday evening, then take an all-night bus back to Guadalajara and arrive in Guadalajara on Sunday morning, and then preach in the church in Guadalajara and spend the Lord’s Day in our church. It is exhausting. The Lord has been helping me and our labor in the Lord is not in vain. Thankfully, Brother Aaron Block has been helping a lot with preaching and has been a great blessing to the work.
I know some are thinking that this is too much work and therefore, is unwise. But how can we leave these dear precious babes in Christ to the wolves? How can we throw their precious souls to the dogs? I tell you, there is no labor that our Lord is not worthy of. I say this solemnly, but I fear that some think this sort of thing is extreme and unwise simply because they’re lukewarm, and would never consider pouring out all their strength for the sake of the Gospel. We think too much on our comfort and on preserving the commodity of our nice little brand of American Christianity rather than the proclamation of the Gospel and the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. We want a crown but we won’t take up the cross; we want heaven but we won’t confront and suffer the rage of Hell; we want happiness but we’re weak and anemic in Gospel holiness. Our whole value system seems to be the opposite of Jesus’ and Paul’s. I’m sick of nominal Christianity that is all talk but no power, all psychology without a true experience of Biblical Pnuematology, all exegesis of the ancient text but no living example of applying that text to experience and walking in real New Testament Christianity. And then we say it’s all OK and justify our sickly, weakly, anemic, prayerless, heartless, and pathetic Christianity by blaming it on the sovereignty of God like good orthodox little Reformed boys and girls and say, “Well I guess it’s just not the Lord’s will that souls get saved, churches get planted, and strongholds of the devil get devastated”. It makes me want to weep, scream, and vomit. Oh Lord, save us from ourselves!
(Please excuse my preachy, frustrated rant, and pray for me, and pray for more God-sent laborers to help us.)
The church plant in Guadalajara is growing. We currently have about 7 people who are being considered for membership, who I have been meeting with to inquire into their testimonies and understanding of the Gospel. Some of these are in the process of awaiting baptism. Four of these are recent conversions. This seems like a lot of people to have at once, but they’ve basically come in a wave; and this after quite a period of stagnation with regards to numerical growth. We have seen many visitors come and go in the meantime.
Please pray for the Lord to save more souls. The attendance is probably averaging about 70 on Sundays. Yet our membership is currently under 30. There are people who have sought me out to enquire about salvation, who are being awakened in the meetings. As I meet with them, they often weep and share their burdens, struggles, fears, and sins. They are miserable, somewhat like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress before arriving at the cross. I just hope they make it to Mt. Calvary. A couple of these people are an older couple in their 80’s. A couple of others are as young as teenagers. Even a little boy has recently confessed that he’s lost and wants to be saved. There are a number of people who are in this illuminated, awakened state, recognizing their sinfulness, yet they haven’t yet caught a true glimpse of the glorious free grace of the cross. When the Spirit of God works to save, first comes conviction and illumination, and then comes regeneration. It is regeneration that we are praying for. Brethren, please pray them through to victory! Oh, may they be bathed in the fountain that has been opened for sin and uncleanness, and be able to cry out one day soon:
“He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood!”
On Sundays we typically open the church meeting in the morning with prayer, Scripture reading and exhortation, hymn singing, preaching, and then a fellowship meal. In the afternoon we are currently studying a book together on the Doctrine of God (Paul Washer’s). Then in the evening the church engages in hospital evangelism in which we feed about 200 people and preach the Gospel to them in the open air. On the first Sunday of each month, we also have a members meeting, in which we exhort one another, rebuke one another, talk about issues in the church, pray for one another, and observe the Lord’s Supper together.
The Evangelism Ministry is exploding. We are working with Living Waters’ Spanish ministry (Aguas Vivientes) to train pastors and local churches in Biblical evangelism. In October, Aguas Vivientes hosted their first Evangelism Academy in Spanish right here in the city of Guadalajara. I was given the privilege to preach alongside a few other men from the ministry. We had about 50 people in attendance from about 8 different nations, including a handful of pastors. We were able to teach on the Biblical Gospel and Biblical Evangelism for 3 days, and hit the streets with the whole group for a glorious time of open air and one-on-one evangelism. We’ve received testimonies since then of people who were in attendance who are now teaching evangelism workshops in their churches and leading teams out to the streets to preach the Gospel. This has also opened the doors for more invitations to teach conferences amidst fellowships of pastors in other places.
We have another conference programmed for February in the state of Chihuahua, in which we are expecting about 80-90 pastors to be present, each with some key leaders from their respective congregations. Please pray for this, brethren. This is a huge opportunity to preach the Gospel, teach on evangelism, and distribute solid resources that can potentially affect hundreds of churches. I’m also in contact with a pastor in Nicaragua who heads up a fellowship of pastors, who is organizing a 5-day training workshop for 25 pastors on the Biblical Gospel and Biblical Evangelism in Nicaragua. The training will consist of about 20 hours of instruction, so I hope to be able to expound somewhat in depth on the doctrines of grace, the attributes of God, soteriology, and the practical bearing all this has on evangelism. We have set the date for this conference in April, if the Lord wills. By the grace of God, we are seeing the beginnings of not just a ministry, but a movement. Many pastors write us or call us constantly, churches are being reformed, some churches are being divided over truth, and people are returning to the Gospel. Your earnest petitions and pleas for mercy before the throne of grace are desperately desired for the sake of our poor and pitiful efforts.
The evangelical idol of decisionism is being smashed quickly, as we teach on evangelism and expose this golden calf of the modern church. Though not everybody receives it immediately, we are seeing a surprising amount of receptivity and are seeing some pastors repent of their unbiblical practices. Some of them resist at first, and say that they’ve been in ministry for decades and have never heard these things, but then they later admit that it’s all Biblical –and then turn around and invite us to go to their churches to preach to their congregations! By the grace of God, we are seeing churches being equipped and leading teams out to the streets to preach the Gospel all over Mexico. The Lord is shaking things. I have more invitations for conferences than I’m possible able to accept and must turn down the majority of them. The harvest is great but the laborers few. Please pray for me, my family, our team… and for more laborers.
Recently we were privileged to participate in a DVD giveaway in Guadalajara. The giveaway was sponsored by Wretched Ministries who very graciously sent us 2,400 DVD’s of “La Pregunta Mas Grande”, an evangelistic DVD with a sound presentation of the Gospel in Spanish. Our church went to the streets and distributed all these DVD’s in about 4 hours on December 5th. We had 25 brethren involved and it was a great time of street evangelism.
I had an intense encounter just as we began the day. Just as the team met together, before we began to pass out DVD’s, a man came up to us. He asked us what we were doing, and we told him about the giveaway. He was happy to receive a DVD. Then he asked for prayer, saying that he was a drug addict and desperately needed God in his life. I began to share the Gospel with him, and as I got to the cross and began expounding on the glories of Calvary, he began weeping profusely. He said, “I believe that”, but then added that in spite of “believing”, he knew he was lost because of his sinful lifestyle. He explained that his heart was so hardened against God that prior to this day, he didn’t want anything to do with God, but that this day he began to feel a great sorrow in his heart over his sin, and explained that he knew it was the Lord convicting him of his need to get right with Him. He also said that he deserved everlasting damnation and was no better than the Devil. I told him that was true, but that no sin is greater or more powerful than the precious blood of Christ, and that the sinless Son of God died as the divenely-appointed Substitute for wretched sinners like us. I explained to him the concept of God’s holy hatred of sin and wrath against sinners, but also that His Beloved Son became the object of that holy hatred and wrath on that cursed tree in order to placate God’s fierce anger and satisfy His perfect justice, and He did it all because of the great love with which He loved us. I urged him to repent and believe the Gospel immediately, to trust in the righteousness which God has provided for unworthy sinners through the death and resurrection of His Son, and to look to Christ alone for an imputed, “alien” righteousness. I was able to explain to him the concepts of justification and regeneration, and testify about how the Mighty God can liberate enslaved addicts from both the guilt and the power of sin. He then asked me to pray for him, so I did. In the midst of the prayer, a demon began manifesting in this man attempting to cast him to the ground, so I wrapped my arms around him and held him up, fearing that if I didn’t he would hit the concrete and harm himself, and then I commanded the spirit to come out in the name of Jesus Christ. A man that was walking by stopped and gazed at us with a dumbfounded look when this occurred, but walked off before I could preach to him. After some more strange manifestations which appeared to signify the exodus of this unwelcome guest of darkness, the man, drenched in sweat and tears, said that he felt the power of God in his body and was shocked by what had just happened. He said that He would repent and serve the Lord. Of course, this man seemed very eager to watch the DVD after this peculiar occurrence. I must add here for the sake of clarification (so that I’m not confused with the hyper-charismatics) that I don’t go around seeking these types of experiences, or to exorcise demons, but in this particular case, the Lord brought about an encounter with an evil spirit that required confrontation. I do believe we have been given authority to trample snakes and scorpions and in these types of cases, we are justified in using it for the glory of Christ. We are in a real spiritual war, and situations like these serve to remind us of the reality of the spiritual that we tend to be so blinded to in our materialistic Western culture.
I preached at a conference in Autlan, Jalisco in October. The subject was the 5 Sola’s of the Reformation, and I was assigned to preach on Soli Deo Gloria. There were a handful of pastors present, and it seems like the Lord is awakening them to the doctrines of grace and purging some of them of false doctrine. Part of this is due to the labors of a couple of other men, namely Paul Walker and Dan Grindstaff, who I’ve been privileged to meet and conversate with. A few of the brethren from our church plant in Guadalajara were also able to exhort a youth group in this place about the dangers of false professions, youthful lusts, wordliness, sexual sin, etc., preach the Gospel, and share their testimonies. Their exhortations were powerful and I believe God owned the time. I am in contact with a fellow missionary who abides in that city who is laboring to the same ends for which we are laboring: To see a modern Reformation and revival of the doctrines of grace and the Biblical Gospel in Mexico.
Our website ministry in Spanish has been exploding recently (www.cristianismobiblico.com). We are hearing from brethren all over Latin America that the Lord is using it to open their eyes to truth, and confirm them in the doctrines they’ve heard from Spurgeon, MacArthur, Washer, etc. Many invitations are pouring in through it to go to different cities to preach in churches and fellowship groups, but they are almost all being denied at this time. People write us from all over asking for a biblical church in their city. Some are driving long distances to meet with us for counsel (from other states in Mexico). We have received testimonies of people’s conversions through it also recently, including some Spanish speaking women in Japan! Others are passing the teachings along to their pastors, fellow congregants, and families. A revolution is going on in at least two different churches right now because of it. Some, who can’t find a biblical church in their city, are tuning in on live streams over the internet to hear Sunday’s sermons. It has boggled my mind to think of how the Word of the Lord is running mightily through the internet. Much of this is due to the constant work and dedication of Brother Aaron, who records the sermons, edits them, and uploads them to the internet.
Unfortunately, we receive so many emails now that Aaron and I can’t respond to them all, so many go unanswered. However, another dear brother in the Lord in Guadalajara is now about to come on board full time with the ministry to help us with everything. We are in the process of changing the whole website, which will update it to the most recent technology, and serve to better organize the content. Then it is our goal to add many more resources, which will increase the traffic. This should be done within the next month, Lord willing.
Please pray for these things.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Over the past couple of months we've been busy plugging away in the church plant in Guadalajara, attempting to send down roots and to become more firmly rooted and grounded as a church. In addition, we've been extremely blessed to be able to host brethren from Peru and the United States for two back-to-back conferences we had in Guadalajara. We had around 100 people show up for each of the conferences. We are extremely grateful and humbled by their visits and give thanks to God for their lives and ministries.
I hope to get a picture of the church one Sunday soon. Though about half of the brethren were absent, here's a picture during a recent fellowship cookout:
Here's a picture of some of the brethren evangelizing on the streets downtown with their T-shirts. The sign says, "Danger! Sin Kills":
HeartCry Conference in Guadalajara
The first conference we had in the beginning of June was with Martín Zacarías and Eder Machuca. Martín is a dear beloved brother in the Lord and a seasoned preacher who pastors a church in Lima, Peru and oversees HeartCry Missionary Society's work in Peru. Here's a couple of pictures of Martín and Eder with Lina and I and with some of the brethren:
Unfortunely, I don't have any pictures of the actual conference! Sorry... but if you speak Spanish you can see the sermons online at this link.
The conference was a tremendous blessing and the Lord really confirmed a lot of strong truth to many hearts with convicting power and encouragement in the Spirit. The conference theme was "The Biblical Church and the Biblical Family". On one of the conference days, we started at 10am and didn't finish until about 2am! And many people stayed the whole time, hungry for truth! There was preaching and fellowship all day, with sermons, Q and A sessions, and exhorting one another to press on and glorify Christ. Almost 2 months have gone by and I can say that there is fruit that has resulted from their time here.
We were greatly edified by brother Martín, believe their visit was useful and a great blessing, and hope to be able to work with them again. I was encouraged to hear how the Lord is using them all over Latin America and surprised to hear that many of our burdens and ministry methodology is very similar, as what they are doing in Peru is very similar to what we are praying and laboring to see happen in Mexico, in terms of training men, working to see the Lord raise up laborers, and planting biblical churches.
Conference with Tim Conway
We were also blessed to receive a visit from Tim Conway, pastor at Grace Community Church of San Antonio (our overseeing church). Along with brother Tim came 4 others from the church, including a couple young ladies who are staying with us until August to help out with the ministry. Their visit was also a tremendous blessing and encouragement to us.
We hosted another conference in order to take advantage of Tim's visit. This conference also consisted of a few days of preaching, fellowship and Q and A sessions. We had a good turnout, and the Lord certainly used the Word that was preached to convict, admonish, rebuke, exhort, encourage, edify and bless. We believe the time was very fruitful and the Lord used it to shake some religious sleepers from their drunken stupor.
Unfortunely, I don't have any pictures from this conference either! But, we do have the videos online on our Youtube Channel. They are in English and Spanish.
Church Plant in Guadalajara
Many new faces have been coming to the church in Guadalajara recently. The work is growing, not just in number, but by the grace of God, in a genuine work of grace in the hearts of people. There are several professions of faith that have been made recently by people who seem to have experienced a Spirit-wrought conversion. A couple have already requested baptism. Several more seem to be under conviction, awakened to their lost state, and I pray they are occupying themselves with a due diligence to striving to enter the narrow gate. Please pray that the Lord of glory would open their eyes to behold the perfect, finished work of Christ and embrace him with the arms of faith so that they may be saved and find rest for their souls from their wearisome burden of sin.
Our average Sunday attendance is now numbering in the 40's. Our church membership has grown by one person (however, a person has also been removed). However, we currently have 8 people seeking membership, most of which, if not all, will most probably soon be added to the number. I say these things not to call attention to increasing numbers (which can be deceiving and don't necessarily signify a true work of the Spirit of God), but to inform you so you can know the progress of the church plant and pray accordingly, knowing that we are making use of due means to care first and foremost for the purity of the church rather than the size of the church. Yet at the same time, I am encouraged that the Lord is doing a work in Guadalajara by HIs grace, and that the work is growing because of His blessed hand upon it. It is my heart's desire that the Lord would save souls and add to his church constantly (Acts 2:47).
More brethren are occupying themselves in ministries and responsibilities in the church, which is encouraging. More are going out to evangelize on the streets, in a drug rehabilitation center, and now at two different area hospitals. The prayers in the prayer meetings center around the salvation of souls, the comforting of saints in affliction, the saint's growth in grace, and the expansion of the Gospel in Guadalajara, Mexico and beyond. Different sisters have taken responsibility to rotate the cooking of fellowship meals for our Sunday meetings. It is encouraging to see the brethren care for one another, love one another, go out of their way to help one another and bear each other's burdens, and serve one another. I am encouraged that the Lord's hand is on the work because while one's zeal for public ministry can possibly be feigned, the organic fellowship that flows from a heart filled with Christlike brotherly love cannot --and both time and space, along with the potential of betraying personal details, prevent me from illustrating with many particular accounts of how this is happening among us to the glory of God.
Projects on the table right now with regard to the church plant, which I am currently working on include:
Other important projects are planned for the future if the Lord wills, not the least of which includes prayers and plans about strategic ways to increase our evangelistic exposure and outreach, but this gives you an idea of our current projects at the moment. Please pray for our evangelistic efforts in Jalisco, as two of the major possibilities on the near horizon seem to be radio ministry in Guadalajara and prison ministry. In addition, I have several outside preaching engagements at conferences for September and October here in Jalisco and in another state in Mexico. I'm also seeking to revise and print a booklet I authored explaining the Gospel, and finalizing the printing of 50,000 tracts for distribution around Mexico. We need your prayers, for without the grace of God all our efforts are just the vain contrivances of fleshly ambition that will leave no lasting fruit. We dare not run without the pillar of fire and the cloud of glory leading the way. We need the power of the Living God. And Mexico desperately needs the Gospel.
Brethren, if I only told you of the ministry possibilities opening up... there are open doors on all sides. Yet the laborers are so very few and we are limited by our lack of laborers. This is by far our greatest need.
Yet, last but not least, LINA IS ABOUT TO GIVE BIRTH WITHIN THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS!!! We are excited and I am somewhat fearful at the same time, as we await the arrival of our first child. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for those who are shown their love and care for us and have been praying for her and the baby. We are thankful for all the prayers, words of encouragement, and gifts from the saints. May our sovereign God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead richly bless you and encourage your hearts, brethren!
In Christ -Josef Urban
The Spirit of God is moving in Mexico. We are seeing the beginning of an awakening to the true biblical Gospel and to biblical evangelism in this country. Last weekend’s conference in Hidalgo was a truly amazing experience that was orchestrated by nothing less than the powerful hand of God.
Gathered together over the weekend were 11 pastors and about 160 people which consisted of a core group from each of their churches. There were about 10 different local churches represented from Tulancingo and the surrounding region, including a few Baptist churches, a Methodist church, a couple Pentecostal churches, and others. Unlike previous conferences, all the people seemed to stay the entire time, and in fact, their number grew over the course of the 2 days. I believe the Lord gave me much grace to expound on Biblical truth and to instruct in the Gospel and evangelism. Many hungry hearts were present that seemed to be surprisingly open and receptive.
Over the 2 days we showed 5 different videos from the Way of the Master Basic Training Course in Spanish. In addition, I had 6 sessions of live preaching that consisted of sermons and PowerPoint teachings. I taught on themes such as:
During the break times between teaching sessions, the people, including some of the pastors, stormed me with questions wanting to know more. Some were so moved that they invited me to hold conferences in other parts of Mexico. I received another 4 different invitations to do other conferences in the future, including one up in the mountains of Puebla amongst some indigenous churches, and another to the regional Methodist churches. I’ve never worked with Methodist churches before, but if we can get them preaching the Law and the Gospel, and proclaiming the new birth and evangelizing like John Wesley, we may see a revival in the midst of what many consider to be a dying church.
What is even more amazing is that 10 of the pastors who came have organized themselves together into an evangelistic alliance, and have agreed to each teach this very same conference in each of their churches to their entire congregations in 2 months, and then to unite their efforts to systematically evangelize the whole city. They each purchased a WOTM Basic Training Course in order to show the videos to their churches, and entreated me to pass onto them the notes and PowerPoint presentations I used so they can train their congregations and teach them what they were taught in the conference. This greatly surprised me, especially that they wanted the notes and PowerPoints, because these things present no “light” Gospel. They have the plans to each work in the meantime to invite their entire larger networks and fellowships of pastors to a conference in February, and to have me return to teach the same conference to those who come from their larger pastoral networks.
One pastor exclaimed to me and many other people, “I feel like Josiah who just found the Law in the temple!” (see 2 Kings 22-23). He explained that he’s been in ministry for over 25 years, but feels like he has just been awakened to the truth. He seemed both humbled and convicted and yet joyful at the same time. He also expressed that he would be kicked out of his movement (a fellowship of churches similar to a denomination) and lose his friends for preaching these things but didn’t care, saying that all that matters is “the truth”. Other pastors mentioned that they are tired of the modern gospel and the results it gets (“backsliders” who never slid forward in the first place, false converts, church members who lack zeal, etc.) and would from henceforth preach the whole counsel of God.
Yet this is not all… what really moved me was what happened after the conference:
On Saturday evening, we left the conference center and hit the streets with the Gospel. Over 60 people came along. After equipping them all with Gospel tracts and organizing them into squads each headed by a pastor, and then into units of 2 or 3 persons each under each squad, we sent them into different sectors of the downtown area, and flooded downtown Tulancingo with the biblical preaching of Law and Grace. It was like an army of soldiers of the cross flooding the streets and battering the gates of Hell with the Gospel. Lost people were hearing the Gospel everywhere. It was awesome! Many people stepped out of their comfort zone and engaged strangers for the very first time. Afterwards, we gathered together and those who thus evangelized for the first time shared their testimonies. Tears were rolling and Christ was glorified. Brethren testified that they’ve never experienced anything like this before, filled with fresh zeal and excitement to make Christ known. I heard numerous people making commitments among themselves to do this on a weekly basis. Some said they wish to begin open air preaching. Oh, this thrills my soul with holy gratitude and intense longing to see Mexico thoroughly saturated with the biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is nothing short of a move of the Spirit of God and if the Lord wills, the beginning of a movement of biblical evangelism in Mexico.
Here's just a few pictures from the evangelism on Saturday evening. There were MANY more sharing the Gospel, but these pictures will give you an idea of what was going on... (click on the picture to enlarge)
Brethren, please keep praying for the salvation of Mexico and the purity of her church. We are earnestly praying for a widespread movement of Biblical evangelism in Latin America. I’m praying and hoping this is a taste of what is yet to come. Our God is faithful, and He is a living, powerful God –this is nothing beyond His reach.
Brethren, please keep your prayers burning on the altar with a white-hot fervency for the salvation of Latin America. False gospels and distorted gospels have reigned far too long and it's time they be challenged.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Doulos Kristou Iesou,
Glory be to God and to the Lamb who sits on the throne!
Recently, we had a baptism and four people took the plunge to confess their faith in Christ publicly. It was a wonderful day in the Lord. We rented a tent and set it up with chairs outside and they invited their friends and family to their baptism. That morning, I expounded on the righteous demands of God's holy Law, God's justice in condemning guilty transgressors, the reality of the judgment to come, and the satisfaction of Christ's perfect work from Romans 3:19-26. Later, they each testified in turn of Christ's glorious saving power, and we gave glory to God for their lives as they were immersed in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Being baptized were the elderly couple who has been congregating with us since the beginning of this year, their son who has been recently converted, and another lady.
The older couple came out of Catholicism at the beginning of the year, and were congregating with us, but seemned to have no assurance of salvation for quite a time. The first to profess faith with assurance was the woman, and for a while later the man still had no assurance. Her life seemed to be radically transformed, and she was lit up with the hope of the Gospel and sharing her newfound hope continually with everyone around her. She would boldly exclaim that she now knew Catholicism was not the way, but that Christ's perfect finished work did for her what religion could never do. However, the man still had no assurance. But one day they came into the church and the man explained how one day as he was praying, the presence of God descended upon him and left him in a holy fear, and he was struck by the holiness of God with a deep sense of his own sin and guilt, and then he saw the cross for the first time, understanding the glory of the cross and having a true repentance birthed in his heart. He was teary eyed as he shared, yet lit up with a glowing joy at the same time, saying that he now knows Jesus Christ had saved him. I could tell something was different. It was a glorious answer to many prayers and the fruit of many sermons and much time spent with them explaining the Gospel. Our God is faithful and His Word doesn't return void. This couple have been continually congregating faithfully, reading the Scriptures, seeking the Lord, and testifying.
See his testimony on our Youtube Channel:
Their son was also baptized, who was converted about 3 months ago. This is the person I wrote about in the last update saying we didn't think he was saved yet. By the grace of God, it appears that our sovereign Lord has done a genuine work of grace in his heart. This man was previously living a life of extreme depravity, drug addiction, and all sorts of debauchery. He was openly antangonistic to the Gospel and hated it, denouncing it with cursing and bitterness. His parents had such a tremendous burden for him and at every prayer meeting, they would request that we pray for his salvation and we would pray. Shortly after the Spirit of God particular pressed us to pray one night after a Bible study, this man showed up on Sunday! He heard the Word and was filled with questions afterward, asking me how he can be free from his addictions and sins. The very next day, he completely stopped smoking and was clean from drugs and alcohol. Yet he still had no assurance of salvation. He would come to the prayer meetings after that, weeping and crying out to God to save him. He lived in fear of death and the wrath of God, knowing he wasn't right. He continually congregated, hearing the Word of God. Then, one night several weeks later as he was reading John 1, he read verse 12 and instantly was flooded with an assurance that God had forgiven his sin and adopted him as His son. He came in the next meeting of the church after that, and told me that he now knew he was saved. His countenance was different -no longer weighed down with an unbearable burden of sin, sorrow and guilt. His manner of dressing soon changed, he cut his long hair off, destroyed his worldly music and movies, and cut off all ties with his old friends. And no one told him to do all that! This was several months ago, and he has been persevering since. Prior to this, he was a devout Catholic (despite his evident life of sin), but now confesses that CHRIST ALONE saves. His testimony is a powerful example of the grace of God and the power of prayer.
Also baptized was a lady who has been congregating for over a year but had never been baptized. For a long time, she seemed to lack a deep rooted conviction that she was Christ's. We met her over a year ago as we were preaching on the streets downtown. She listened and began to congregate with our previous church ever since hearing us on the streets. Then, ever since we started the church plant, she has been congregating with us. She testifies that she was not saved when she first heard us preaching, but has since come to know Jesus Christ.
We are praying that God will save more souls in our midst, believing He is not only able but also willing to do it. Please join your prayers with ours that God would save souls in Guadalajara, Mexico. The church plant is moving forward. Christ will build His church, for His glory.
Brethren, I have been praying not just for a church, but for a church planting movement to be ignited in this desperately needy nation. Is our God not mighty, wonderful, powerful and able to do it? Is He not faithful to keep His promises? Is it not His will to save souls? If He can plant one church, can He not plant 10? And if 10, can He not plant 100?
- Pray for these new believers to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, to be rooted and grounded in love, to be immersed in the Scriptures with a continual and increasing hunger to know God more, to be kept from all sin and temptation, to be in unity with one another as we fellowship as a church, etc.
- Pray for Lina as the bulk of her ministry now consists in caring for these orphaned children we've taken in.
- Pray for the salvation of these 4 children. We are also attempting to take in 2 more soon. Please pray for this.
- Pray for me to teach and preach the Word faithfully in the church plant. I need much grace in this area and I am very needy.
- Pray for a strong, healthy, Holy Spirit filled and flourishing Christ-exalting biblical church to be planted in Guadalajara that would become a stronghold for the Gospel and an Antioch for sending out laborers to the rest of the nation.
- Pray for souls to get saved, particularly those who are hearing the Gospel and have been coming to our meetings or hearing the Word preached in downtown evangelism.
The Children have Arrived!
On Saturday, June 25 2011 the children arrived. They are 4 boys. The Casa Hogar (Children's Home) has officially begun! Here is a pic of us with the kids, with the van in the background that the Lord provided:
We've been extremely busy with the kids this past week, getting to know them, teaching them, and attempting to train them in obedience. They are behind in schooling and need a lot of work to be able to read and write, among other things. This past week, we've been getting used to the new schedule and a new season in life and ministry. We need lots of grace and wisdom to live out the love of Christ before them and to teach them the Word of God and practical life skills. Please pray for us and for the salvation of these children. This is a mission not to just raise children, but to care for them and be salt and light around them, teaching them the Word constantly with the earnest cry to God in our hearts that He would save them and make them followers of Jesus Christ. We eventually want to take in more children as the Lord leads and makes His will known. Yet our desire is not to run a large institution full of children who are treated as numbers and neglected because of a lack of ability to spend time with them because of large quantity, but our desire is to treat them as we would our own kids, and to manage the Casa Hogar like a big family centered around Christ. We thank God and give Him glory for opening these doors, providing for our needs according to His riches in glory, and showing Himself faithful in our midst. Brethren, pray for us!
Iglesia del Centro - Church Plant in Guadalajara
The church plant has been progressing and going forward. The membership has grown since the last update. The Lord has been moving and saving. The man I wrote about in the last update a couple months ago, who began to come around but was bound in sin and drugs, seems like he has been radically saved! His life has been transformed. He's been completely free from drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes for about 3 months now. He has a great hunger for the Word of God and congregates every week at every meeting of the church. He demonstrates an obvious sensitivity to sin, a fear of God, humility, and a desire to please God and do His will. He has requested to be baptized along with his parents within the next couple of weeks. His parents are also new converts. If all goes as planned, the family will be baptized then. They all show evident fruit and profess to have assurance that Jesus Christ has saved them. There is also another person who is a fairly recent convert, who has been congregating for over a year now and has expressed interest in baptism. I am exhorting and trying to push the church forward to cry out to God to save more souls in our midst.
We are very grateful for the grace of God toward unworthy dogs like us. Our teaching ministry in Spanish through the website www.cristianismobiblico.com has been reaching many with the truth of God's Word. According to website statistics, there are between 200 to 400 unique visitors to the site every day. On that site, we are hosting our sermons in audio and video, and putting many different articles and teachings. Our burden is to spread sound doctrine throughout Latin America, and the website has been an excellent tool for working toward this goal. We constantly receive a steady stream of people writing us through the website who express gratitude for the teachings on it. If you know of anyone who speaks Spanish, please pass the website link along to them.
One thing we desire to do is to begin conducting conferences on the true Gospel and biblical evangelism around Mexico. The ministry through the website has been opening doors for this and numerous pastors have been contacting us. In October, if the Lord wills, we are booked for our first conference in northern Mexico. If we can teach the biblical Gospel, and teach men how to share the biblical Gospel through the means of purposeful and persevering evangelistic outreach, we can make a big step forward in reaching Mexico with the Gospel. We can't do all this alone, but if we can train men and then they can go do it, our efforts can be multiplied.
Pray for the Salvation of Mexico!
There is such a tremendous need for evangelism and for teaching sound doctrine that no words can describe it.
-Pray for the children (ex-orphans) we've taken in that they will come to know our glorious Lord Jesus.
-Pray that we would have grace and patience to minister to these children effectively.
-Pray that the family that wants to be baptized soon will continue to hold fast to the faith they've professed and to press on faithfully. Being recent converts, they have many battles and struggles, and still don't understand many things. Though they demonstrate that God has done a work in their souls, being babes in the faith they need lots of prayer.
-Pray that God would save souls and add to the church here. Please cry out to God to save more souls here and add to His church those who are being saved!
-Pray that the church would grow in depth and in number, because the more it grows in number by means of having true disciples of Jesus Christ added to it, the more laborers there are to launch forth with the Gospel and the more resources there are to multiply our outreaches and ministries (and eventually to plant more churches, which is our ultimate burden, desire and vision).
-Pray that Josef, Lina and brother Aaron wouldn't get drained spiritually through everything that is going on. There is so much more happening than is possible to write in this update, and sometimes I feel weary and discouraged. With everything happening around us, it's easy to forget about the "necessary thing", sitting at the Master's feet and admiring His majesty. On top of all the activity, it's easy to become discouraged and saddened that we have not seen more fruit in our midst. Yet our hope is in our God. He will not let us down.
If you believe the Lord would have you to help us financially, information on how to support us can be found on the “Donate” page of our website: www.puregospeltruth.com. We are able to live, preach the Gospel, plant a church, show hospitality, help other missionaries, distribute Bibles and literature, and care for orphans in Mexico only because of God’s grace and gracious provision by means of His people. We are so grateful for your prayers and support and know it will bear fruit into eternity. May Jesus Christ be glorified in Mexico and made famous among the nations.
by Josef & Lina Urban
Dear brethren and friends,
My heart has been weighed down over the state of the Gospel in Mexico. As I sit here, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, there is a large map of the nation in front of me hanging on the wall. As I ponder the vastness of the nation before us, and the desperate need for the proclamation of the biblical Gospel in all corners of this Gospel-barren and sin-soaked land, a real sense of the immensity of the task at hand grips my soul with a sense of urgency and desperation. Questions begin to flood my mind. How can we most effectively labor in the city of Guadalajara in order to impact not only Guadalajara, but the rest of the nation with the biblical Gospel? How can we, being so few, so weak, so pitiful, so under-trained, so lacking in resources, even begin to make inroads into this nation with the truth of Jesus Christ? How can we make any impact whatsoever? It all appears as if we’re just tossing a pebble into the vast ocean with all our efforts and preaching. We need more brethren to catch a vision, a burden, and a passion for reaching Mexico with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I often compare Mexico to Lazarus, the poor beggar. I know this is not a teaching in the text itself, but suffer me to use it by way of analogy. "There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table” (Luke 16:19-21). As the rich man feasted and Lazarus longed to eat just the crumbs of what fell from his table, so it is, spiritually speaking, between the USA and Mexico. The USA is sitting at the banquet table of feasting upon the greatest teaching resources, theological resources, monetary resources, and more in the church, while Mexico is like the poor beggar who longs to just have a crumb of what America is feasting upon.
Brethren, the Christian church at large in Mexico is theologically shallow and destitute of the rich fatness of sound biblical doctrine. It is in desperate need of missionaries to come here and to just teach sound doctrine. On top of this, the population at large sits under the yoke of Catholicism, empty religion, idolatry, and religious superstition, ignorant of the true God. We are in the midst of a region where, according to statistics, if indeed such are to be counted as accurate, only 2-3% claims to be Christian (as opposed to Catholic). I do not think this statistic is too far off. Mexico has barely a crumb of the amount of light, Gospel truth, and access to biblical teaching and theological resources that America has had.
This means that we must not back up, let up, or coward out. Our resources are scanty, our number few, and our stature very small. Yet our God is very big. We must press on for the sake of our King who has given us command to herald and proclaim His glorious Gospel. He is mighty to save. He will build His church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it!
God has shown Himself faithful in our midst, brethren. We have some exciting testimonies to share with you in this update. The Lord has opened up the doors for us to take in orphans. Such is an awesome opportunity to not only obey the biblical mandate to do such, but to also invest in the lives of these little ones, to show them the practical love of Jesus Christ, and to, most importantly, teach them the Word of God. We are greatly in need of your prayers at this time.
CHURCH PLANTING UPDATE
The more we progress in planting a church in Guadalajara, the more I’m convinced that it is only through church planting that we can see a lasting, persevering, Christ-glorifying, fruit-enduring work of God established in this city. We are pressing on by the ability which Christ gives, and by the grace of our mighty God we are seeing some fruit as a result of our labors, praying earnestly that God will save more souls and raise up laborers to preach.
Our Sunday meetings in the church have been averaging somewhere between 12-20 people. Our prayer meetings and Bible studies have also grown some since the last update. God has been blessing our time together with His sweet presence. The believers are growing in grace. God is supernaturally granting our requests as we meet together every week to seek His face and cry out for Him to move in power. Many people come through visiting and hear the exposition of God’s Word.
In reality, so much has been going on with relation to the church plant that there is no time or space here to tell of it all. Yet we are convinced that God is moving and raising up a lasting work in this city. Though we greatly desire to see the church grow numerically (by means of genuine salvation) we also realize that it’s just as important that it grow spiritually (by means of a deeper work of growing in grace and sanctification in each person). It seems like the Lord is doing both in our midst, in His own manner of doing things and in His own timing. Yet He is at work and for that we praise Him!
The older couple I mentioned in the last update is still congregating with us. The husband still does not seem to be saved. Please cry out for his salvation before the throne of grace. However, the wife recently professed to be saved. This happened in a meeting of the Lord’s Supper. After Aaron proclaimed the Gospel, and I explained the meaning of the bread and fruit of the vine, during the partaking of the bread and juice, her heart rose up in prayer to God and she testifies that she trusted in Christ with all her heart. She did not partake of the Lord’s Supper since we explain it’s only for believers who have been baptized. But after the meeting, she was beaming with tears and joy, and enthusiastically told Lina: “Lina, I know I’m saved!” Lina asked her why. She responded: “Because Jesus died for me! I know He saved me!” She said she had a revelation of Christ and of His finished work as the bread and juice were administered and trusted Christ with simple faith like a child. Ever since then, she has testified without wavering that God saved her there, and has been testifying to friends and family about Christ. This was a couple months ago and she still continues strong and congregating faithfully.
Ever since she has professed to be saved, she has been praying relentlessly for her children to get saved. At our prayer meetings every week, we would pray particularly for one of her sons who was in heavy bondage to alcohol and drugs. We prayed continually when we gathered together that God would save him. Recently, that son went into a drug rehab center and came out. Then, the Lord started getting a hold of him. He came to the meeting of the church one Sunday and I preached on the text, “Believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). He has been drug and alcohol free, and crying out to Christ to save him. Over a week ago now, he completely stopped smoking cigarettes (he used to smoke 40 per day). He has been coming to our meetings on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, eager to hear God’s Word and claiming to desperately want to be saved. We are praying that God will save him and confirm his faith by the inward testimony of the Spirit of adoption.
God is answering some of prayers beyond any doubt. We have seen His hand at work. Several people seemed to be deeply moved by the Word of God recently. It seems like the Lord was calling one man in particular who, after the meeting, approached me and said, “I realize I’m a sinner, I’ve committed horrible sins, and I want to follow Jesus and give Him my life. How can I follow Jesus?” We spent a couple hours with him and it seems like the Lord was giving him revelation from Heaven in understanding Scriptures we would show him. He said he felt the Word enter his heart and felt different inside. This is a man who had no prior background in Christianity whatsoever.
Please pray! And keep praying! If you want a more detailed update, with more testimonies, contact us on skype. Contact info is at end of this update.
TO LAUNCH AN ORPHANAGE
By the grace of our great God, we are now in the plans of starting a small orphanage in Guadalajara. This has come about by miraculously answered prayers and by God’s miraculous provision for a house. Here’s a few statistics about orphans in Mexico, according to online sources:
► There are 1,600,000+ orphans in Mexico.
► Mexico has the second highest orphan rate among Latin American countries.
► 15% of the minor population (0-17 years) are orphaned children.
In Mexico, domestic violence rages, broken families abound, kidnapping and murders leave many children fatherless, and drug and substance abuse cause many children to be permanently removed from their families by the government. The DIF, a government agency, has a surplus of children that have no real parents (either dead or as good as dead to them), and this agency takes them and puts them into orphanages all over Mexico. The DIF always has a surplus of children with not enough orphanages to care for them. This means there is a dire need for orphanages to be planted. However, all of these orphanages are required to pay their own expenses, as the government does not help them at all.
It has been in our heart to help orphans in Mexico for a long time, though there was scarcely the opportunity to do it. Now, the opportunity has fallen right on into our lap without any major striving or effort of our own! Through a series of events and circumstances, the doors are swung wide open to take in orphans and plant an orphanage. Let me share how it came about.
MIRACULOUS PROVISION FROM A SOVEREIGN GOD
About a year and a half ago, there was a tremendous tugging on my heart to help orphans in Mexico. At that time, we were renting a tiny little house for about $275 per month and were strapped when it came to financial support. We were just scraping by financially and had no means for starting any sort of work with orphans. However, I prayed, and realizing that starting any sort of orphanage was then out of the question, searched diligently for a Christian orphanage to partner with. During that time, at a birthday party, I met a man who is the director of an orphanage in Guadalajara. After talking with him a while, I discovered that he was the man in charge of Keith Green’s orphanage in northern Mexico for many years. He began to tell me about how he knew Leonard Ravenhill and David Wilkerson and the history of the orphanages he works with. We immediately got along very well and realized we had much in common when it came to understanding biblical salvation. It wasn’t long after that we began visiting his orphanage in Guadalajara and spending more time with him and his wife. Since then, we have been helping them.
Now, recently, we were with a group of brethren at our Wednesday evening prayer meeting. That day, our usual borrowed room in a mall was booked and we had nowhere to pray. So we went to a nearby park and were forced to pray in public. We decided to start praying that God would provide a large enough house near downtown Guadalajara for us to have our meetings in as a church, so as to not to continue to have to battle to find places to meet. That day we prayed together specifically that the Lord would provide a house near downtown. Then, two days later, a brother in the Lord (who doesn’t congregate with us) contacted us and said that he knows some Christians who were looking to support a church planting work and he told them about us and they decided to rent a house for us for a year. They decided to pay the rent on our behalf for a year. It was a miraculous answer to prayer! Total strangers wanting to rent the house we need, who had no idea that we had just prayed two days before!
We then realized that the amount they pledged could rent a large enough house for us to have extra space to use for the Lord’s work. Immediately I thought of the orphans. Would it be possible now to take in orphans and use this house for the glory of God by visiting the fatherless in their affliction? We immediately called the director of the already existing orphanage and asked about the possibility.
It turns out that because of a tremendous provision, he told us that we could start an extension of their orphanage. It would technically be considered, for all legal purposes, a part of their institution, but we would be in charge of it in all practical purposes. He and his wife were rejoicing at the possibility and we committed it to prayer and seeking counsel.
TO TAKE A STEP OF FAITH
After praying and receiving counsel from many brethren, we believe it’s the Lord’s will to move forward and take in orphans. We have now rented the house and it has ample space to start this work. The new house is pictured below:
We are now in the process of preparing to take in the children. We have much to prepare, both spiritually and physically. We can desperately use your prayers at this time as we have so much to learn and so little experience in many things.
The house still needs a lot of work; mostly little things here and there. We need to purchase furniture for the children (bunk beds, dressers, etc.) and many other things to prepare before taking in the first children.
Numerous people have asked how we plan to provide for the children. The answer is through prayer and trusting God. In the same way He has provided for our needs on the mission field these 3+ years, God, in answer to prayer, will provide for the least of these little ones. We desire that God would get glory for His name in providing for the needs of these orphans as we commit everything into His hands. He is faithful and He will not let us down. If He has brought us this far, will He not take us all the way?
This is a huge step for us and a huge transition in the ministry God has been pleased to entrust to us. I move forward with much fear and trembling. My only consolation is that God is with us. My great prayer is that God would raise up soldiers for Jesus Christ in Mexico.
Our current plan is to take in the first children in June if the Lord wills. The children we will be taking, at least initially, are already at the other orphanage, and we have been given the privilege of choosing which ones to take. We are not sure yet as to all of the children we will take, but have so far decided to take in two boys who are brothers as the first ones. They are pictured below with Lina:
We’re not yet sure what is the ultimate number of children we should have. It is our prayer that as we step out in faith in this work, that the Lord will raise up faithful brothers and sisters to volunteer and help us care for these children. Our goal is not to just care for the needs of orphans, but to teach them the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all facets of life, that they may serve and glorify the blessed Lord of glory their whole lives.
We praise God for the great things He has done and is doing and we believe that this work with the orphans will not hinder, but actually help, the mission to plant a healthy biblical church in Guadalajara, especially if the Lord is pleased to look down upon us poor pitiful creatures with delight and pour out the blessings of Isaiah 58 upon us.
We earnestly beseech you to pray for us during this time. May God be pleased to demonstrate biblical Christianity in our midst and glorify His beloved Son.
EVANGELISM AND OPEN AIR PREACHING
God has chosen to use the foolish things of this world to stand up publicly and proclaim a message that is foolishness to this world and has ordained to use the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe (1 Cor. 1:21, 27). Yet the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. Standing up in a public square and proclaiming the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ may seem foolish and ineffective in the eyes of the carnal mind, but God has commanded His people to preach whether the world wants to hear it or not.
We have not been attracting any large crowds as we preach the Gospel downtown. Yet, almost every time we preach, there are some who stop to listen who otherwise would never hear, because they have never stepped foot in a Christian church and had no plans of doing so. While the majority pass by and refuse to listen, there are some who are detained by the Spirit of God and feel a weight of conviction press down upon their sinful soul at the hearing of the Word of God. By preaching in the open air, we are able to reach those who otherwise would never hear the Gospel.
In the heart of the “Circle of Silence” (the region of Mexico with the least percentage of Christians), Catholicism is a major stronghold and the last thing a devout Catholic is going to do is attend a Christian church. Even though we are working at planting a biblical church in this desperately needy city, the fact remains that without going out into the highways and hedges and compelling men to come into the Kingdom of God, they will never hear the glorious invitation to eternal life in Christ. Only by the public, aggressive proclamation of the living Word of God can we see this city, region, state, and nation adequately reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Inner city evangelism and open air preaching has been our primary means of sowing the precious Gospel seed. We have and are continuing to proclaim the Gospel, and slowly but surely by the grace of God are making inroads into the heart of this city with the truth of God’s Word. The majority of those who visit our Sunday meetings in the church plant are those who heard the proclamation of God’s Word downtown. Also, the majority of those who congregate consistently with us are with us because they initially heard one of us preaching in the open air downtown. So, while such a method may seem foolish to the world, it is bearing fruit. A church’s foundation must be the preaching of the GOSPEL, for the church is the pillar and bulwark of the truth, and the Gospel is the heart and essence of all truth. We refuse to resort to using carnal and man-made methods which compromise biblical principles in order to draw people into the church. By evangelizing people personally, and proclaiming the Gospel publicly, God is building His church. While we have and are seeing some fruit from the evangelism, we greatly long to see our great God save sinners and do a mighty work of outpouring grace in our midst. We are crying out for God to show Himself mighty to save in our midst.
There have been too many conversations and encounters to possibly detail them here. We constantly run into everybody from religious hypocrites and cult members, to drunkards and drug addicts, to nice moral family people, and everything in between as we testify of Christ. Your prayers are greatly longed for, that God would cause more fruit to spring forth from our evangelistic efforts for His glory. Christ is worthy. We must press on.
TRIPS TO THE USA
We are still in the process of coming under the oversight of Grace Community Church of San Antonio, TX. We recently made another trip there and spent a couple weeks in fellowship with the church. Lord willing, we may be taking another trip in several weeks, before taking in the first orphans. We believe that coming under their oversight will help us, provide accountability, help to sharpen our effectiveness on the mission field, and be a great blessing as they pray for us, as well as a source of potential future co-laborers. All of this is extremely important for missionaries, and having such accountability over us will ensure our supporters and friends that we are submitted to biblical leadership and not straying into error. If you are in or around San Antonio and would like to meet up with us while we’re there, contact us. The church’s website is: http://www.gccsatx.com/.
NATIONALIZATION IN MEXICO
Some time ago, after a long, debilitating and somewhat stressful series of events, I (Josef) finally obtained immigrant status in Mexico! This means that I will no longer be forced to leave the country in order to renew my permission to stay, and such gives me more rights and protection within the country. After having this immigrant ID card for two years, I may then be eligible to obtain citizenship (dual-citizenship). I greatly appreciate those who prayed for this while we were going through the long process.
LABORERS BEING RAISED UP
As we are laboring to plant a church and orphanage in Guadalajara, and reach Mexico with the Gospel, we have a need for more laborers. As the work expands, so does the need for more laborers. And as we have more laborers, so we likewise have more opportunity to expand our labors.
One Mexican brother from Guadalajara that we have been pouring into for about 2 years now is considering the possibility of entering the ministry to teach God’s Word. He recently left for Peru and is now spending 6 months with the church in Lima that Paul Washer planted in order to study theology. The institute he is studying at is the Heartcry base in Peru where all their Latin American missionaries must study. We’re praying that God will use this time tremendously to equip and raise this brother up. After these 6 months, his plan is to return to Guadalajara.
There are also several others who are praying about the possibility of joining us as missionaries. Please pray that God will have His perfect way, and if He is calling them to come here that He will make His will clear to all. Our Lord told us to pray for the Father to raise up more laborers. We have His Word on it.
If you believe the Lord would have you to help us financially, information on how to support us can be found on the Donate page of our website. We are able to live, labor, preach the Gospel, plant a church, show hospitality, help other missionaries, distribute Bibles and literature, and care for orphans in Mexico only because of God’s grace and gracious provision by means of His people. We are so grateful for your prayers and support and know it will bear fruit into eternity.
The Lord is raising up a church in Guadalajara to the praise and glory of His great name! Rejoice with us and pray for us brethren as you read this new update.
Click here or on the picture to the left to download this newsletter. It's in .pdf format.
May the Lord pour out His Spirit among us and do a work of grace in the hearts of those who are hearing the Word of God in Guadalajara.
There is so much happening that there's just not enough time to write about it all.
Church Plant Update
We have now changed the location of our meeting place on Sundays. It used to be in our house, but the location was just too far for everybody, being on the edge of this giant city. The Lord has now provided a place right in the middle of downtown Guadalajara just a few blocks away from where we usually preach. It's a hotel conference room high up on the top level of the hotel, with a nice view of the city.
Here's the room with Aaron preparing to play the guitar for our hymns:
Right from the windows on the right of the room, we have a direct view of the city's chief Synogogue of Satan (the central Catholic Cathedral). We're really just a few blocks away from it. The bells go off every time our meeting is starting, reminding us of what we're up against. May the Lord lift up a standard against the lies of empty religious superstitions. May the Gospel of the grace of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ, that His work IS FINISHED be proclaimed and taught in this city boldly, and may the risen, glorified, living and reigning Christ be exalted high above the dead "jesus" who takes on the form of a cracker every Sunday to be a continual propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of those in attendance. Think about it brethren, they are worshiping a cracker and calling it Jesus Christ. We must preach the living Christ! The book of Acts says that the apostles gave testimony to the resurrection with great power (Acts 4:33). Jesus Christ is alive! If they only knew, if they only truly knew, it would change everything. If you are a Catholic and you are reading this know that I have nothing against any Catholic personally, I truly love Catholics, but the religion of Rome contradicts God's written Word in almost every way and has historically been guilty of murdering Christians for preaching the Gospel and translating the Bible. Please visit this page on our website to learn why Catholicism is not biblical Christianity. Here's the view from the window:
The Lord really opened the door for this conference room. Normally, the hotel charges 2,000 pesos per session (about $185 dollars US). But they lowered the price for us. It would have originally cost 8,000 pesos per month to rent, but they are giving it to us for only 2,000 pesos per month! Praise the Lord! It is a great bargain and a perfect location, and a nice room. Yet even still, it is another expense and we are in need of brethren to hold the rope for us. May the Lord provide and may the Lord raise up a biblical church in the center of Guadalajara for His glory. Oh brethren, you have no idea how drastically important, how utterly essential, how drastically strategic this church plant is in the center of this city. It would be a witness right in the middle of this Catholic city. And since this city is a crossroads in Mexico, it would reach the rest of the nation for Jesus Christ if the Lord would raise up a healthy strong church plant here. Please consider coming behind us on this and pray for us, oh, pray for us desperately!
We now have three weeks in the new location. A few new people have already come that would not have come otherwise. One young lady came who is on the verge of divorce and came and sought us out looking for help. After the meeting, she confessed her sin and wept and we all prayed to the Lord for her. We also had a lady return who used to come to our meetings that we had downtown in early 2009. Now that we're back in centro, she can make it to the meetings without too much difficulty (she's an elderly lady). As a result of prayer, the Lord seems to have healed her as she used to walk with so much difficulty, using a walker, but now walks without a walker and with much more ease! This is her testimony brethren, you can believe it or not, it's what she shared and we have seen there's a big difference in her. She came and testified in our meeting for His faithfulness (not only in the healing but in everything) and we all gave glory to God. It had been a long time since we had last seen her. She now went to visit family for a little while in Baja California but she said that when she gets back she is going to fellowship with us as long as we're all there. Here's a picture of us with her:
There is another young lady who we met a long time ago while preaching downtown. She started fellowshipping at our previous church and has been attending there faithfully for about a year. But since our church plant downtown is about half the distance (she used to travel 2 hours each way) she is now attending our meetings. Last Sunday she brought 2 of her unsaved family members and they too heard the Word of God.
Currently, we have two brothers in the Lord who are fellowshipping with us, Artemio and Giancarlo. There are a couple more unconverted men that visit regularly also (one of them is David, the old man who is a former Catholic -he is still unconverted and openly admits he is full of unbelief). With the elderly lady (if it's the Lord's will that she come back soon from B.C.) and the other young lady, that's two sisters in the Lord also. So with Lina and I, Aaron, Giancarlo, Artemio, and the two ladies, that makes 7 believers who are a part of this fellowship. In addition, we constantly get visitors who come and go and hear the Word of God.
Some of you may be wondering about our Ecclesiology. I hope to write it all out in more detail soon if the Lord wills. This church plant will be based on the 9 Marks model with a slight modification to the "membership" mark. That is, we're not following a traditional model of membership where one joins and writes their signature on a piece of paper making an open covenant with the congregation. However, we are distinguishing between true brethren and the unconverted in attendance, and also between those committed to the assembly as the expression of their local fellowship and those believers who are not committed in such a way. So in essence we are following that model of recognizing membership, just not in the traditional sense. At least we will do this for a time for as long as the fellowship is small enough and the communion between brethren close enough to recognize in all practical aspects the difference between "members" and non-members without a need for anything more "official" or formal.
For those wondering, the teaching is and shall continue to be expository and also, biblical church discipline will certainly be exercised when necessary. The doctrine shall be firmly grounded upon the doctrines of grace and the cross of Jesus Christ shall always be proclaimed and emphasized and re-emphasized. The goal is to eventually raise up a plurality of elders (from Guadalajara or elsewhere in Mexico) who will govern the flock and lead in such a way that the church is autonomous and not dependent on a missionary or outside support. If necessary because of the size of the fellowship, and if there are qualified individuals, deacons shall also be appointed. If the size of the fellowship grows and the intimate communion of the saints begins to diminish because of the number of members, a visitation program shall be put in place for the leaders of the church to visit the members on a regular rotation basis in order to fellowship with them more closely and inquire into the state of their souls in order to minister to them (as per the models proposed by George Mueller and Richard Baxter). In the event of such growth if it were to occur, small groups would be implemented throughout the week to practice Acts 2:42 in the context of guided teaching with Body participation. Biblical evangelism shall be practiced continually in the city with all members encouraged (but not by using guilt tactics) to participate. As per offerings, none shall be taken up at this time. In the future if the Lord wills and the fellowship grows, eventually a small box will be placed somewhere in the back for members to give anonymously and without pressure. Training believers in evangelism will also be a major focus of the church with a short training school in place eventually. Eventually, it would be ideal to establish a biblical training school as a ministry of the church where others could travel to Guadalajara from around the country of Mexico to study the Word of God and prepare for ministry. This is the vision, the plans, and of course, everything is completely in the Lord's hands since we don't even know what tomorrow holds. This is a goal, a plan, in the event that the Lord brings it about.
Our goal is not just to see a local church established, but to see a training center raised up as a part of its ministry that would raise up and send forth preachers of the Biblical Gospel, church planters, evangelists and missionaries to the rest of Mexico. Planting a local church is the first step in this process. And the process of church planting is being implemented by aggressive evangelism and discipleship -we have no other methods.
The meetings right now start at 11 am and last a few hours. We generally open up in prayer, in hymn singing and worship, and then invite brethren to share something with the congregation (a word, an exhortation, a Scripture, a hymn, a song, etc.). Various always share something, decently and in order. Then we have the teaching, where I am currently expositing on the book of 1 John. Next if the Lord wills we will take on one of the 4 Gospels. Then we end in fellowship which may continue on in another location outside of the meeting place. (We like GCC of San Antonio's practice of fellowshipping all day after their Sunday meetings and eventually that would be ideal).
Please keep this church plant in your prayers brethren. We desperately need the glorious grace of our great God for this tremendous task before us.
John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. (John 3:27)
Evangelism, Open Air Preaching, & Discipling
Hallelujah! We have not ceased from going to the city to stand up and proclaim that Jesus Christ is the only Way! Every week, at least several times per week, the Lord has enabled us to be there preaching and pleading with souls to repent and believe the Gospel, to flee the wrath to come, to run to Jesus Christ for refuge and salvation. Thousands have heard the Gospel in the past year to the glory of the great name of our God.
We have had so many conversations, so many seeds have been sown, that it is impossible to write about it all. But a couple of testimonies I would like to share:
- As we were open air preaching day after day, week after week, there was a man that would always walk by. He always just passed by refusing to listen, figuring we were just crazy or wanted money or something. But one day, as he was passing by again, the Lord got a hold of him and he sat down to listen. He was gripped by conviction and began to sigh and cry over his abominations wondering if God could ever forgive someone so wicked as him. A brother in the Lord on our team was then able to talk with him for a while and minister grace to him and pray with him. We don't know what happened, but the finger of the Lord touched him. This is a testimony to the need of open air proclamation of the Gospel. That would have never happened if we weren't there continually preaching the foolishness of the cross. Brethren, be faithful to God! Stand up and be men! Proclaim the cross! The power of God is in the proclamation of the cross! Don't worry about the results, don't worry about the appearances of things, if we are faithful to proclaim Christ then God will be faithful to move in the hearts of men.
- Another young man, 17 years old, is a testimony to the power of the Gospel. He was a children's minister in his church (a Christian church). One night as we were preaching, he stopped to listen. Lina and I then talked to him. He confessed to us that he was living a secret homosexual lifestyle and that he had not ever told anyone, that we were the first he told. He said he wanted to repent and truly serve the Lord. After a long conversation, after pleading with him to forsake his sin and turn to the Savior and stop being a hypocrite, to fear God, to surrender all to Christ, we prayed with him for deliverance, and he too called upon Christ to forgive him. Well, after a couple of months since this encounter, we ran into him again. This time he was changed! He testified to us that since that night, he never went back to that lifestyle, that he's been delivered. He now said that he's serving the Lord and wants to follow Christ alone. He has a close relationship with his pastor now and is courting a girl in the presence of his pastor. He also wants to evangelize now and has a desire to learn how. Praise God for the power of the Gospel!
Another testimony: Recently, brother Giancarlo, the young man we have been discipling on a regular basis, open air preached for the first time! Lina and I were on our way to the city to meet up with the team, but were very late getting there (in part because we ran into a gangster on the street and preached to him for a while), so Giancarlo just started preaching without us! He continued to preach even after we arrived. He is considering and praying about dedicating his life to the ministry. Please keep him in your prayers. He still has a lot to learn before taking such a step and needs much more discipling, but he has shown a lot of fruit lately and tremendous growth since we met him. You would rejoice to see what God is doing in him.
OK, just one more testimony: There's another brother who recently began to meet up with us wanting training in evangelism. He met up with us various times, and we showed him the entire Way of the Master DVD training course. Then he left to Chiapas (a state in Mexico in the southeastern part of the state bordering Guatemala) and has been open air preaching and evangelizing there in the capital city. He plans on returning to Guadalajara in January, and then if it's the Lord's will, wants to unite a group of his friends that also want to evangelize so we can train them.
May God raise up more preachers of the truth to proclaim the glories of the Savior in this land. Don't forget Mexico in your prayers, brethren! We've already received some requests from believers around Mexico wanting training in evangelism through our website, www.cristianismobiblico.com and Lord willing, may travel a bit starting in January to train some of them using the WOTM course if the Lord provides the funds for us to travel. I have another website in the works right now in Spanish that is solely about evangelism and will feature video testimonies (of salvation and of believers getting their feet wet in evangelism), teaching articles, sermons and videos about evangelism and the true Gospel, evangelism resources, and also, it is our intention to distribute tracts, booklets, DVD's, and other evangelism resources through it -all in Spanish of course. May God raise up an army of soldiers of the cross and establish a beachhead for the Gospel right smack dab in the middle of the Circle of Silence!
But speaking of God raising up preachers of truth, we have also seen preachers of lies being raised up by Satan lately. The adversary doesn't just lay down and slumber, he's busy roaming and devouring. Recently, one devoutly Catholic man has now become fed up with us. So he decided to start open air preaching now also. He now has a loud speaker and microphone and spouts off heresies of a superstitious and ritual based, counterfeit way of salvation that promises purgatory but leads to Hell. His goal is to preach Catholicism, to defend the Roman religion, and to discredit us and other Christians as being a "new sect". Many people stop to listen to him, sadly. Where are the real preachers of righteousness??? Oh Lord, raise up an army of preachers of truth in this land, for Your great name's sake! Vindicate your holy name in the sight of this people!
Recently, when Aaron was OA preaching, this man decided to contradict and shout against us like a madman. He is doing everything he can to try to hinder the progress of the Gospel in this city. May the Lord deal with him. If only Christians were as zealous for the living truth of the Gospel as this man is for dead Roman tradition, we would have a revival on our hands. He's in the middle to the left of Aaron in the blue striped shirt:
Violence in Mexico
Mexico has got to be one of the most wicked and violent countries in the world. Decapitated bodies laying in the streets, highway road block robberies, drug cartels with firepower that puts the military to shame, and kidnapping (of adults for ransom) abounds. While Guadalajara isn't in a major hot zone for all this activity, it certainly does happen here. Just within a couple blocks from our house the authorities found out and closed down a kidnapping ring. But recent violence has given us a couple of opportunities to preach the Gospel...
Earlier this month, Lina went to a woman's Bible study near our home with the church we worked with. After the study, she came out and discovered that just down the street, on the very same street where the church meets, 3 men had just been gunned down in broad daylight.
Lina and another sister in Christ immediately went to the scene where they found a large crowd gathered around the bodies. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, Lina stood up and open air preached to the crowd. She shared the Gospel and they gave out tracts. She talked about death and eternity, and Christ as the only way of salvation. Some listened, and one man seemed deeply impacted. What happened was a tragedy, but at least the Gospel was preached. Please pray for Lina as this has affected her, seeing a body laying on the street with the head mutilated by bullet wounds.
The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. (Psalms 11:5-7)
When you see what violence does, how it destroys and harms, you really understand why the Lord hates it. Vengeance belongs to the Lord, it is not for the children of men to take it into their own hands (Rom. 12:19). The one who takes vengeance into their own hands is robbing from God, and will face His jealous fury if they don't repent.
Several weeks later, as all of us were coming out of our Sunday morning meeting and walking through downtown, Guadalajara, we stumbled right into an open street brawl between two gangs. They had chains and fists swinging furiously, with probably about 10 young men on each side. It was a war zone. They fought and showed no mercy. Several were full of blood, and one was pretty severely wounded.
After a minute or two, the fight stopped and the brawlers ran in opposite directions. So brother Aaron stood up in the middle of the scene with his amp and preached the Gospel, using what had just happened as a springboard. Again, it was tragic to see such violence, and grieving to see all this wickedness, but thanks be to God that the Gospel was preached. Later that day, Lina and I ran into the men from one of the gangs, and were able to preach to them. They were all mockers and laughed at us, with the exception of one, who happened to be the most aggressive fighter. He seemed to get convicted and listened.
My blessed Lord Jesus was right when He said that in the last days it would be just like the days of Noah (Mat. 24:37). Genesis says that the earth was corrupt in God's sight and that the earth was filled with violence (Gen. 6:11). We are in the midst of it brethren. It's time to get serious about serving the Lord. How I long for the day of entering that blessed Kingdom of my Savior, that land where perfect peace dwells.
A Visit from Ecuador
We were privileged this month to have a visit from a brother in the Lord from Ecuador (South America) named David. He's an evangelist and works with Open Air Campaigners and came up to minister and stay with a friend of ours named Misael. It was encouraging to fellowship with him and to learn that there's a solid preacher of the biblical Gospel in Ecuador. For a couple weeks, David was preaching the Gospel hot and strong in and around Guadalajara on the streets, in churches, in schools, in a hospital, and anywhere the doors opened up.
Here's a picture of him preaching in downtown Guadalajara using the sketch board technique.
You can watch a video of this open air meeting here (in Spanish).
He also preached to the patients waiting for service at a hospital that we may go back to if the Lord wills. Here's a pic of inside the hospital:
And outside the hospital...
We met up with David and Misael several times to fellowship and to preach the Gospel in this lost, dark and dying city. I was also able to load brother David up with a bunch of solid literature from Chapel Library and give him a book of Grudem's Teología Sistematica to take back to Ecuador with him. He seemed very eager to read it, and in fact, already had read a portion before he left! He also said the sermon he read by George Whitefield from Chapel Library was the best sermon he's read. May God raise up Whitefield's in Latin America who don't bow down to man but would rather suffer the loss of all things for the sake of the cross, that Christ may be proclaimed! Like Moses:
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26)
Marketplace Business and Ministry
We were able to purchase the spot in the street market every Thursday near our house. We started a juice business in it (it's only on Thursdays) in order to try to get some more funds. What we make there on Thursdays is about one seventh of our monthly expenses so it does help but doesn't go too far unfortunately. But the best thing about it is the ministry opportunity it gives us to testify to the vendors around us who see us all day on Thursdays and also to the customers. Numerous of them have noticed the difference between us and the rest of the vendors and have asked us about why we're so joyful or show so much care for people. Of course, since they ask, we tell them about our Lord! One lady who was (or maybe even still is) a devout Catholic, even participating in the idolatrous marches with the idol statues of Guadelupe, has opened up tremendously and even was in tears as Lina talked with her, acknowledging the truth. She had a huge turnaround in her attitude towards us and we're praying that the Lord would convert her to the truth of Christ.
Also in our 6 meter long booth, apart from the juice stand, we have a Bible table where we give out Bibles, tracts, booklets and more to all the people walking through the market. We've been able to give out a bunch of Gospel literature here to the people of our community. A few sisters from our previous church have been coming every week to occupy the booth and share the Gospel. They are excellent at it and really know how to engage people in meaningful conversation and share the Gospel with them. Last week, a sister was testifying to a blind man for a long time. Eventually, he came inside our booth and listened intently for a long while. I also was able to give a Bible to one lady who was extremely grateful for it, wanting to pay for it. The people can't understand why we give them out for free and they are confounded by it. Many think there's a catch to it and are skeptical. But this lady even came back later thanking us again and saying that she was going to read it and use it to teach others what she read! The sisters have had many more conversations and hopefully will write out their experiences soon so we can share them. They have much more to share but Lina, Aaron and I are mostly busy while they're preaching with the juice business.
We are still in contact with the Christian orphanage here, visiting from time to time. This month the Lord has provided a little bit of support for them, including some money that a stranger who said he's a Christian insisted on giving me after an open air sermon (he seemed to get offended that I didn't want to accept it so I was constrained to accept it, so in the manner of Whitefield, the money given in an open air meeting will go to the orphans). Also, a couple is now helping to support them on a monthly basis. We are grateful that the Lord is providing a little bit for the support of these abandoned children.
Trip to the USA
November 29th - December 13th we plan on being in the USA. Our current itinerary very likely includes stops in Texas in the following cities: Laredo, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Arlington, and possibly Austin also. We will also be spending the weekend of the 4-5 of December in Springfield, Missouri. If you are in any of those locations and would like to meet up with Lina and I and we have not yet contacted you, please let us know ASAP. I am also available to share in churches and fellowships about our mission in Mexico, or to preach, but let us know immediately so we can plan the trip.
In Christ - Josef Urban