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.”