Greetings from Guadalajara, Mexico!
We have had an extremely busy year with lots of things happening. We are currently in Guadalajara and continue to plug away at the works the Lord has been pleased to raise up in Mexico. In the interest of brevity, I'll summarize some of the highlights of what has transpired recently...
Our family has experienced several crisis type situations. Earlier this year, we were implicated in a nasty ring of violence that put our lives in potential mortal danger, possibly making us a target for "professional" murderers. This situation, among others, made it necessary for us to take a brief furlough into the United States for several months. We had to move out of our home, go into hiding, and trust the Lord for financial provision that was well beyond their means as we made these movements. He is always been so faithful to provide. Thankfully, the situation has cleared up and I feel that the family is a bit safer. We’re grateful for those who were faithfully praying for our safety and our future as a family during this time.
Ordination of a Pastor
Hector Bustamamante, the brother who has been laboring alongside me these last couple of years, and who I’ve had the privilege to mentor during this time, has recently been ordained to the pastoral ministry. Many were in tears of solemn joy, rejoicing with trembling, as Aaron Block and I laid hands on him and prayed for the grace, blessing and power of the Holy Spirit to endow him for the work of the ministry, having been set aside by the church to give himself to the ministry of the Word and prayer.
Hector and his wife, Karime, and their little daughter, Idelette. Can you guess who their daugther is named after? (Hint: one of the 16th Century Reformer's wives.)
Aaron Block gives Hector some words of exhortation in the presence of witnesses prior to the laying on of hands:
We call on the Lord to earnestly beg of His grace and mercy, that He would use this man mightily for the spread of the Gospel and sound doctrine in the church and in greater Latin America:
Hector preaches the Word of the living God immediately following his ordination to all who listen on with earnest expectation:
This event is an answer to many prayers as it enables us to multiply our labors. Please remember brother Hector in your prayers, that the Lord will bless and keep him, keep his affections inflamed with the zealous love for Christ, continue to bless him with a healthy and happy marriage, and for the Lord to have mercy on the soul of his daughter and on the baby to come, to grant them the gift of the new birth.
Our 3rd Annual Conference in Guadalajara: Reformation and Revival!
In November, we had our annual conference in Guadalajara. Every year, we have this conference in a large campground. We devote four days to preaching, fellowship, prayer meetings, eating together, and doing family activities together at this facility. It’s always such a blessed time that encourages us and revives our hearts. This year, we had about 600 persons come out for the conference.
The theme this year was “Returning to the Old Paths: Truths that Reform and Revive the Church”. The expositors were Aaron Block, Miguel Fattel, Hector Bustamante and I. All of the subject matter revolved around the subject of practical, experiential Reformed theology. We talked about how theology should impact all of life, resulting in subjection from the heart to the Lordship, supremacy, sovereignty of God, in order to glorify Him in every sphere of life.
We also spoke about historic revival and prevailing prayer, Trinitarian devotion and spirituality, engaging in our vocations and earthly labors for the glory of God, Biblical meditation as a spiritual discipline, and about the place of self-examination and confession of sin in the prayer life of the Christian.
We also spoke about the pious family, and how to walk godly in the home. This was a big theme of the conference since this is such a great need in the church of Latin America. We emphasized the need for applying sound theology to our everyday family life. We talked about family devotions, exhorted men to lead their families as the prophets, priests, and kings of the home, and gave practical advice on how to conduct family worship in the home. We also exhorted parents to diligently teach their children the whole counsel of God, and to strive to give them a thoroughly biblical education from the days of their youth.
On the third day of the conference, a lady approached me with an encouraging testimony. She was attending the conference with her husband (who is also a believer) along with their children. This family was not from any of our sister churches, but had heard about the conference and decided to attend. After the exhortations and teachings about family worship and discipleship, this family returned to their home that night. The husband called a meeting with the family, asked for their forgiveness for not leading them in the worship of God, and solemnly committed to teach them the Bible and lead them in family worship every day. According to the wife’s testimony, he then began to lead them in prayer. And his prayers broke her heart. She said she had never heard him pray like that before as he wept and cried out loud, begging God to have mercy on his family and save his children. She said that the earnestness and solemnity of his prayers even caused her to fear, as the presence of God was so tangible in the room. Oh, may the Lord revive the excellent practice of true worship in the homes of believers all over Latin America. May we see a genuine move of the Spirit of God that shakes the status quo and revives genuine piety in the midst of a Christianity that is so superficial and shallow in our day!
Many other testimonies have been trickling in. It seems like dozens of men who had previously been slothful in teaching the word of God to their families and in the worship of God have made a more conscious commitment to doing so. Please pray that these resolutions wouldn’t be the result of a momentary excitement but of a true and lasting work of grace that bears much fruit for years to come (should our Lord tarry).
Here are some pictures of the conference:
Aaron Block preaches on the phenomena of genuine revival and its practical implications for the Christian life. He was able to teach much along of the lines of what is found in Ian Murray's excellent book, "Pentecost Today":
The promotional flyer that was designed for the event:
The beautiful map our team designed for the campground:
Hector teaches on the doctrine of vocation, how to understand work in this world and how to engage in it for God's glory. This shot was taken on a Monday, the last day of the conference, and as you can see, many precious people were still in attendance:
Miguel Fattel teaches on "Walking Godly in the Home". He gleaned much from classic Puritan works such as William Gouge's Domestic Duties, from Thomas Manton and Matthew Henry:
The four expositors teaching during the question and answer session. Many good questions came in such as, "How do I lead family worship if my husband is not a Christian?", "What is praying in the Holy Spirit?", "How do we properly implement the doctrine of the Trinity, and Trinitarian devotion, into our prayer life?", "How do we avoid falling into legalism if we esteem the Lord's Day as a special day of worship?", and many others:
All of the teaching sessions were recorded by our faithful media team and are being uploaded to our website www.cristianismobiblico.com in order to be available for free to the larger Spanish speaking world. Your gifts to our ministry allows us to financially compensate workers who put in much time and effort to media ministries so as to spread the Word of God to the whole world through the internet:
The fellowship was amazing! All the meals were to be had at the campground and many of the brethren stayed in dorms and bunks--over 200 people slept at the campground!
After all the activities and with bellies satisfied from a nice camp dinner, the brethren would enjoy some sweet fellowship around the fire during the chilly November night:
Here's a picture of a couple of brothers at our book sales table. The brother on the left was very involved in organizing the whole event. The one on the right is leading a new literature project we've initiated. At the conference, with Publicaciones Cristianismo Bíblico (our own printing and distribution ministry; website forthcoming), we were able to offer over 400 different titles of solid Reformed literature at a highly discounted price. In all, we sold about 1,200 books at the event! How exciting to see the hunger the brethren have for digging deeper into the Word, especially considering that Latin American culture is traditionally not given to much reading! We thank God for the hard--completely volunteer--work of these dear brothers!
At the conference, I released my newly published Catechism for families and children. It's called, "The Great Doctrines of the Faith: A New Catechism for Children and Families". It has over 200 questions and answers that guide the cathechumen through the whole rubric of basic systematic theology, with key biblical verses appended to each answer for memorization. I based it off of several other historic catechisms, made sure it alligned with our Confession of Faith (the 1689) in everything, and significantely expanded several sections, such as the doctrine of the atonement (Christ and Him crucified!) and the attributes of God. We sold almost 500 copies of this catechism at the conference. All of this is a nonprofit labor. Your support has also helped us to be able to complete this project and equip families with this powerful tool for family discipleship:
Since we sold out of all the copies we had, we're now working at printing the catechism in an attractive and practical hardcover format. Sorry, but it's only available in Spanish for the time being!
Many hearts were encouraged. Several pastors approached me from diverse places, expressing a desire to bring their congregations to the reality of experiential Reformed theology and practical piety and lead their churches to a practical ecclesiological reformation.
Thanks so much for your prayers and support! There's so much more to tell you about, dear friends, but the contraints of time and space press us with the necessity of submitting to the limitations of brevity. I'll try to send another update soon.
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