We are now back in Guadalajara, Mexico after a month-long excursion to Texas, Ohio and Michigan. It was a blessing during our time back to the USA to see some brethren in the Lord and spend some time in fellowship with them. I was also able to visit much of my family and even to testify to some of them about the truth of the Gospel. But even though it was good to visit friends and family, I must be honest, my heart was still here in Guadalajara.
We have such a precious blessing here. A solid local church to be a part of, a body of believers to fellowship with, Godly men who are elders in the faith to be encouraged by, a harvest field to labor in amongst the lost of this city, an evangelism team to equip and train, individuals to disciple unto fruitfulness, and a youth group to minister to with the hopes of seeing Christ worshiped as King of all, obeyed as Lord of all, and believed as Savior of all. My heart longs to see true conversions take place from amongst the perishing, true discipleship in practice amongst the Lord’s people, and biblical Christianity demonstrated by the church. The task is great, the stakes are high, the opposition is tremendous, yet the recompense is promising and the Lord is worthy of receiving the reward of His suffering. We are called to be aflame for God and shine as lights in this dark world, glorifying His holy name to the uttermost. Can we settle for anything less? Oh, that He would cause His love to burn in our hearts, our eyes to be single on His glory, our minds consumed with His Word, our hands to be strengthened in His work, our ears quickened to His call, our foreheads set like flint against the wicked, our feet swift to run with His Good News, and our voices amplified to cry aloud and spare not, to proclaim the Everlasting Gospel of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ!
The Lord is doing something in our midst. He is stirring us up to believe for greater things. May it please God to grant that our own eyes see the day when His Spirit once again moves in the midst of His people as in times of old! How I long to see the Apostolic faith proclaimed and lived and demonstrated in power (not the Apostolic faith of the denominational, oneness sort, but that of the Book of Acts sort). We need to beseech the throne of grace with earnest petitions until the Lord looks upon us and rains down righteousness once again like a mighty river. But where, oh where, are the preachers sent of the Holy Ghost who are divinely commissioned to break up the fallow ground and prepare the way (Hos. 10:12)? Raise them up, oh Lord!!! Make your people willing in the day of your power! May the Lord reach down in sovereign grace and raise up laborers for His harvest! May the Spirit of God do a work to convert these heathen who grope about in the darkness of their sin, that the scales of their blinded eyes may fall off that they may too behold the beauty of the Son of God! Dear brethren, pray for God to move in our midst! And pray that God-sent laborers would be raised up to labor in this wicked fallen nation to turn the people from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God!
We are getting settled right now back into our humble abode in the city and preparing to resume the ministry. Up to this time, we have been buffeted with numerous infirmities and sicknesses akin to the foreign field, mainly with stomach illnesses, and request your prayers for our health that we can labor more effectively in the Lord’s service. Within the next couple of weeks, we are planning on resuming the teaching, preaching and evangelism.
The youth group meeting has truly been blessed of the Lord thus far. We were able to hold several meetings on a weekly basis prior to our departure to the USA, and outside of these meetings, spend some time with some of the young people. Some good fruit has already come forth from this, and we are praying earnestly that more would come. Some of the parents of these youth have already been testifying to us of positive changes they are seeing in their sons since coming to the meetings. Some of those who always seemed apathetic and indifferent during the other meetings are now appearing to become attentive to the Word with some level of interest. We are looking forward, if the Lord is willing, to minister to these youth much more.
We also have had a Catholic lady come into the meetings and by her own testimony it appears that she was converted. –I don’t know exactly the means of her conversion, or whether it was the result of these meetings, but I do know that she has expressed an earnest desire to serve the Lord and is very receptive to the Word in the meetings now. She came in one week saying she was a Catholic and then came in the next week testifying of knowing that Jesus saved her and having her eyes opened to Scriptural truth that will get one kicked out of the Catholic church. She originally came because of an invite by someone else in the church, and has since had some kind of conversion experience and her apparent zeal now seems to exceed that of the ‘sister’ that invited her! Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord works?
Our evangelism training meetings have also seen the hand of God upon them. Generally, I will teach a foundational lesson on the Gospel (how can you evangelize rightly if you don’t even know the real Gospel?), on presenting the Gospel, or on some practical matter of evangelism, and then afterwards we will have a time of corporate prayer before dismissing and meeting the team in the downtown area of the city to put it all into practice on the streets. We have from 20 to 50 people show up at these meetings every week (the numbers have been increasing). As we unite in prayer after the teaching, we pray for ourselves, for the church, and for the outreach. In these prayer meetings we’ve seen the hand of God move unexpectedly, and come down with a peculiarly strong presence of the Holy Spirit. Seemingly out of nowhere, various persons will break out into loud weeping, and confessing their sins with a remarkable degree of desperation asking Christ to pardon them. The Lord seemed to really be searching the hearts of men in these meetings, and exposing secret things, deep heart sins, that no one ever knew about except that person and the Lord, and the person will confess it openly in fervent prayer. The Lord has been in the midst and we worship His holy name.
Also, there is another apparent conversion that had taken place recently. A woman who grew up in the church and claimed to be a Christian all her life appears to have finally been converted after many years of such religiosity. As we met with her and explained what real repentance, faith, and regeneration are, she realized she was undone and unsaved. She went before the Lord and surrendered herself to him with a sincere heart confessing her sin, and has testified to experiencing peace and joy in the Holy Spirit in knowing her sins were forgiven. This was about two months ago. She has since continued to bring forth fruit, have a hunger for the written Word of God, and experience the Lord working in her life in practical areas of sanctification, thereby giving visible evidence that a real work of grace has indeed taken place. The angels rejoice to see such things. We now meet with her on a weekly basis to teach her and her husband from the Bible.
There is one more individual that I’d like to share about. This testimony was encouraging to me. Often times, when people see that we preach in the open air and that many people mock and only a few stop to listen, I am asked if any good comes out of it. Many people, even Christians, think that it is almost a waste of time. But we have seen the Lord use such “foolishness” (of preaching) for His own glory! Recently, Lina and another sister that evangelizes with us ran into a man who was in the square to hear us preach. As they engaged in conversation with him they quickly learned that he had testified to being converted. He began to share how. He told them that some time prior, he had listened to us open air preaching in that very square, and after we finished, we invited everyone to come forward to receive a free Gospel of John. So he came forward and took one. He proceeded to read the whole thing. Then, one day shortly after as he was driving in his car, he shared how the Lord just came down and converted him. While he was driving, he felt like a heat come over his whole body, then immediately a deep-hearted conviction for sin and godly sorrow, and repented before the Lord believing in Christ, all right in his car. He shared how he was changed, and immediately after this, someone gave him a Bible. He said that he had been reading it all the time with a hunger to know God’s will, and proceeded to testify to his family what the Lord did in him, trying to preach to them the little he knew from the Bible. He also expressed sadness though in that he didn’t understand why his Catholic family wouldn’t accept his testimony and began to shun him because of it. Lina was able to encourage him in the Lord and to give him some important exhortations and warnings, especially with regards to keeping guard against false churches and false doctrines and the importance of knowing God’s Word and of following the witness of the Holy Spirit within.
People try to tell me all the time that the grace of God is not sovereign in its operations, that it doesn’t operate solely according to the will of God but is subject also to the will, desire and works of man. Yet not only does the Word of God say otherwise, but testimonies such as these don’t support their ideas either. I see in this testimony a man who was on his way in his blindness and ignorance and all of a sudden God just came down suddenly and converted him. Salvation is by the will of God (Eph. 1:11), the redemption of Christ (Col. 1:14), and the power of the Holy Spirit (Eze. 36:26-27), according to free and sovereign grace shed abundantly upon sinners in mercy resulting in regeneration which produces a changed life to the glory of God alone (Tit. 3:5-6). That’s the Apostle Paul’s testimony on the road to Damascus, that’s my testimony on the road to iniquity, and that appears to be this man’s testimony on the road in his car. By His mercy, I will preach sovereign grace until I die, for that is the essence of the Gospel. I’m not talking about debating Calvinism or Arminianism here (and it’s a shame that we can’t even hardly speak of salvation being of the Lord without people itching to attach to us such labels of men) but I’m talking about the Almighty power of God in conversion that can save any man He pleases. I fully admit that man has his own responsibility, but I also say that although man has full responsibility for his own sin, he has no ability to free himself from that sin in his spiritually dead state apart from divine operations of the Spirit of God in opening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, and imparting new life. Man is totally and utterly dependant on the Lord to save him, and thus salvation is of the Lord, and not of the works of man. Thus all men have only to look to Christ, and Christ alone, to be saved. And in order to do so, they must look away from themselves. Thus saving faith in its essence is not a work at all, but is the opposite of a work, it is an act of total surrender and submission to Christ (and, of course, this faith will inevitably result in good works).
Well, all this had taken place before we left to the USA. I never had a chance to update you all on these things, so have only been able to do so just now. So this gives you an idea of what is going on and what we are coming back to now that we’ve returned.
My Spanish studies are now resumed as I devote several hours per day to studying the language. It’s harder than you may think! At least for me, that is! My comprehension is improving drastically but my tongue is yet so slow to speak. May the Lord help me!
In Christ –Josef Urban www.puregospeltruth.com