JUNE 11, 2008
(There are no pictures in this post...to see the pictures, click here to go to our photo album)
We have recently returned from our 3-week journey to southern Mexico and had a successful mission to the glory of God. We met with both hardships, with persecution, and with blessings and movings of the Spirit. Here is an outline of our trip:
We flew out from the Tijuana airport to Acapulco and abode overnight at a relative’s house. From there, we took a 7-hour bus ride and arrived in a small city called Altamirano and from there, stayed in a small town about 30 minutes away (driving time), where Lina has a lot of family. This small town is in the middle of a desert and is largely unreached with the Gospel, and the main city is surrounded by many other such towns in all directions.
The area where this town is located doesn’t see hardly any American visitors (I would actually get many hard stares for being a gringo). There is almost NO gospel witness. It’s sad though as there are Catholics everywhere. And there are a couple of big, brand new Jehovah Witness churches in that area. The mormons are there too. Yet, the true Church of Jesus Christ has not penetrated the enemy’s ranks in that place! It’s full of dead religion but totally void of a true witness of the power of God! Of all the people we talked to, none of them owned a real Bible. The ones that owned a Bible only had a copy of the Jehovah Witnesses Bible since they have been all through there preaching their doctrines of demons. It is a dark area, full of drug smugglers and high-ranking mafia. The town is a drug town; most of the houses are extremely poor and dilapidated yet out front, you will see a brand new $50,000 car (which a regular working Mexican could never afford). It hasn’t been sufficiently evangelized and despite what your missions prayer maps might say, it’s largely unreached. When asked what religion we were, we always say, “Christians”, that is, followers of Christ. People would say, “Christians? There’s none of those in this area.” It is a great desire of mine to go back and to labor and pray that the Lord would be pleased to establish a strong Gospel witness in this region. We will see if the Lord permits. Here are some pictures:
It was amazing because usually, family is the last people to want to hear you preach to them. Yet, the first night we were there, when we were about to go for a walk through the town and prospectively find someone to share the Gospel with, some of Lina’s family members that were with us said, “Why don’t you preach to us?” So we said, “Sure!” and proceeded to preach the whole Gospel to them. We actually have a large pictorial flip chart that goes through vivid biblical illustrations, starting with Adam and Eve and ending at the Great White Throne Judgment and the Lake of Fire, so we started at the beginning and preached through all of the pictures to them. It went really well.
We were also able to preach to some others in this village and had a couple of truly divine appointments. The scripture never ceases to amaze me: “A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps” (Pro 16:9). One day after prayer, as we went door to door to preach, we were walking through the village and the first house we went up to invited us in and allowed us to sit down and preach the whole Gospel to them for a couple hours. They were a very poor husband and wife couple and have a couple children. He used to smuggle drugs to the US but has now left that. As we began to talk with them, I started by asking him about what he thinks is going to happen to him when he dies (I usually never ask this at the first). And he was immediately shocked at the question, because he related to us that many times he wakes up in the middle of the night, worried about what’s going to happen when he dies. He gets so scared sometimes, that, being unable to see to read for himself, he will have his wife read the Bible to him at these times. Yet, he understood nothing of it. So we proceeded to preach through the Scriptures on the nature of sin, it’s penalty, the justice of God and the wrath of God, and then upon the mercy and love of God and the grace of Jesus Christ. The man and his wife appeared to be very much convicted. They used to be Catholics, then switched to Jehovah Witness, then switched again to hyper-charismatic Pentecostals (who in this village sound more like a cult than anything), and now had given up and settled for nothing. All they had was a JW’s Bible (which is changed), so we were able to give them a real New Testament. We were able to preach to them clearly on the way of salvation and how to be saved, and we were able to pray with them too. Please continue to keep them in prayer.
The Lord also opened the doors for us to preach to another family in this village. The man in this family is an educated, respectable, “moral” man and a hard working mechanic who thought that all religion is good since it leads to better morals, and that he himself would enter Heaven based upon the supposition that he is a good person who deserves it. In talking with him, I opened up the Law of God and he was immediately convinced as a liar. I opened the Bible to Revelation 21:8 (all liars have their part in the lake of fire) and had him read it, and when he did, his countenance suddenly sunk and it hit him like a ton of bricks. Then I turned it to John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him”. When he read that, knowing that he doesn’t believe in Jesus as we already discussed what that means, his eyes began to water as the Holy Ghost convinced him of his sinful state before God. I immediately started expounding on the Cross, and before I could scarcely begin, he interrupted desperately, “What do I have to do to be saved?!!” So we told him how to be saved. He turned to his wife and anxiously said, “Let’s go for it honey!” Then his mind started to race forward as he began to count the cost. He started asking questions like, “Does this mean I won’t be able to own a nice car?”, “does this mean I won’t be able to save a lot of money up?”, “Does this mean that I have to be a preacher like you?”, etc. He began to say, “This means I am going to be mocked and laughed at by the town”, “This means that when that happens, I won’t be able to defend myself”, etc. etc. It was amazing to see how the Spirit of God was revealing to him exactly what it means to follow Christ and exactly what he would have to endure for the Cross’ sake. We were able to plead with him and exhort them much and to give them a nice hardcover full Bible. Hopefully they have laid down their rebellion against God and repented. Please keep them in prayer –the man’s name is Sergio.
We also desired to preach in the open market in the main city in this place, but for some reason, it wasn’t as populated when we went as people were telling us it was, and there wasn’t enough people to preach to without having some kind of amplification to make our voices heard, so we didn’t preach. Here’s a picture of the market:
From there, we were off to Oaxaca to meet up with David Sitton (www.toeverytribe.com) and his team. We had to take a 5-hour bus ride to Mexico City, and from there, transfer to another bus which then took us on another 6-7 hour trip to another city, and from there, take a shuttle for another couple of hours which then caused us to arrive in our city of destination in Oaxaca. As we stayed there, David and his team ended up breaking down on the ride down and had a lot of problems making it. So we ended up waiting for 4 days for them to arrive. But it was all good and in the divine providence of God!
During our wait in this little city, we decided to do some preaching. The first night we were there, as we were in the city square, I noticed a large Catholic Church down the street. I said, “let’s walk over there and check it out”. As we walked up, some men came out and lit off a bunch of fireworks. Then they were followed by a procession of a large group of people marching out. As they marched, they were chanting “Hail Mary’s” and carrying idols and relics.
My heart was grieved and I prayed for them. We proceeded to walk back to our hotel which is many blocks away across the city. As we walked down our street, we stopped, and before long and to our complete surprise, the people began to march right down our street. I told Lina, “You should stand up and read some scripture to them”, so as they went by, she read the 2nd Commandment from Exodus 20 that reads: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God…” She expounded slightly upon it. Then they kept walking.
The next night, an older man came up to us and asked, “Are you the ones who read the Bible to us last night?” We affirmed. Then he turned beat red, furious, and full of hatred, and began to curse and threaten us. He told Lina that he would take her Bible and destroy it while poking her with his finger and pushing her. He said things such as “Who do you think you are to quote the Bible and try to change the traditions that our ancestors have held for hundreds of years!” There was a murderous Catholic demon which had a strong influence in that place. A day or two later, as we were walking down the street, we ran into that man with a group of his friends standing along the road. He pointed to us, “That’s the gringo and the girl!” A woman yelled, “We should stone them!!!” And the crowd cheered her on. Praise God! Hallelujah!!! I’ve never actually been threatened to be stoned for Jesus’ sake, but it was a tremendous blessing and caused me to rejoice in heart! We have been praying for that man ever since, that God would forgive him for he knows not what he is doing, and even that God would convert him and make him the Saul of Tarsus turned Paul of the town.
During our layover in this city, by the sovereignty of God we were able to meet a husband and wife couple who runs a little restaurant. This is a nice, sit-down restaurant and all the food is a whopping $3 a plate (!). After seeing the Bible in my hand and finding out we were Christians, the man sat down with us at our table and began to talk with us and listen to us present the Gospel and expound on what it means to be born again. He never heard about being born again and didn’t know what it meant. He also thought one could only pray in a church, so he was blown away to discover that one can pray anywhere, especially the words of Jesus where He talks about entering your room and praying in secret. We talked with him about true repentance, about confessing his sins and putting his faith and trust in Jesus alone to save him. Later, when we came back, we found him preaching to a couple men in his restaurant, and telling them they need to be born again, and to go get alone with God and confess their sins! –It is always a great sign to see somebody evangelizing. We were encouraged to find out that after talking with us, he himself went into his room and shut the door, knelt down before God, and confessed his sins asking Jesus to save him. He has been waking up at 4 o’clock every morning and reading his Bible too. And this couple has opened their house to us, offering us a place to stay whenever we visit this city. We were also able to pray for his kidneys, as he has had tumors or growths on them that are potentially cancerous, so we laid hands on him and cursed those tumors in the name of Jesus. We pray he was healed but were not able to visit him again since then to verify anything.
By the mercy of God, we were also able to preach in the big open square in the dead center of the city where a lot of people gather. We were able to preach a great open air message to a crowd of about 30+ people. Seeing they are all Catholic, I decided to preach from the Lord’s Prayer, since all Catholics knew it, and to expound on it verse by verse, using it as a springboard to preach against idolatry as is in Catholicism, to preach the hallowedness and holiness of God, the Kingdom of God and what it means to enter that Kingdom and abide therein, against hypocrisy, the will of God for sinners to repent and for people to live in obedience to His commands, the provision and love of God in caring for men, the basis of the forgiveness of sin in the Cross and Gospel of Christ, and the glory of God. The people were very attentive and after much exhortation, we were able to pass out a couple Gospels of John to them.
Eventually, brother David and the team ended up showing up before we were martyred for the testimony of Jesus. We then headed out from this city to the town of unreached Indians that we were going to preach to. We had to drive along some extremely thin and dangerous mountain roads to reach this remote village and after about 4 hours of driving through these mountains, we arrived. Here’s some pictures of the village:
David and the team set up a medical and dental clinic in this village as the way to get in (you can’t just go in saying you’re a Christian missionary who desires to convert people or you will get kicked out and possibly be in serious physical danger). So the clinics were the inroads he used. This was a village of Mixtec Indians who just a hundred years ago were still performing human sacrifices to their pagan gods. Their main religion is Animism (the belief that spirits control everything, possess inanimate objects, and must be constantly appeased) mixed with Catholicism, therefore they live in perpetual fear. Some of them seem to be more modernized now though too.
Many were very fearful of us as well. They are not an open, friendly people like many Mexicans are. And to top it all off, the vast majority of them don’t speak any Spanish. They still speak their native Mixteco language (which sounds very Asian). During our stay, we camped out in tents and they ran the dental and medical clinics to provide services for all the people who came up. It was hard to communicate as most of the time we didn’t have a translator.
However, there were maybe about ten people that came up who did speak Spanish. So it was our goal to preach as much as we could to those who could understand us. We were also able to pray for some of the sick and ask God to heal them. One man who spoke Spanish came up and we were able to sit down with him and talk. We explained to him the fact of sin and how God views it, and its penalty, and then I asked him, “Do you know what Jesus did for you on the Cross?” He looked puzzled, and said, “no”. Then I said, “Do you even know who Jesus Christ is?” and to that he replied, “I think I’ve heard of Him before”. –What! My heart was overwhelmed within me as the reality hit me that these people have never heard who Jesus is. We proceeded to share the Gospel with him as simply and clearly as we could. We told him about how Jesus would heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out demons, and he was amazed. Right away, he pointed to the Bible in Lina’s hands, and said, “Do you have another one of those books?” (he didn’t know to call it a Bible), so we gave him one. We told him what to do to be saved. We were able to pray with him and commend him to the grace of God, and have been praying for him since. May God give the increase!
There was also another man from this village who spoke Spanish who we were able to preach to and have a tremendous time with. He had no idea what “sin” was, or what “judgment day” was. We explained it to him, and his jaw literally dropped open, and then he immediately asked if we have another book (Bible)! We told him about the Lord Jesus and how to be saved through faith in His name. He appeared to have a very sincere hunger to know the things of God and to read his new Bible, please pray for Him that God would reach down and convert his soul.
There were others we were able to speak with as well. It was such an unspeakable blessing to be able to share the Gospel and the beauties of the precious Cross to people who have never ever heard, or even had a chance to hear, such things. To tell someone about Jesus who doesn’t even know who Jesus is or what He did. It was such a blessed experience; it was truly amazing; words cannot describe how much it blessed my soul. The village has now requested that we would send in an English teacher to teach the townspeople English, which is a total breakthrough and a mighty opportunity for a Gospel worker to go in, live among them, and be a witness in this village while teaching English using the Bible as the text book. Please pray that God would send worthy laborers into this unreached harvest field. If you are interested in giving your life for the next few years+ to forsake all the comforts of your materialistic culture, moving in to a group of unreached people in a remote region, taking up their culture, learning their language (which is only spoken, there is no written language here), teaching English, praying for a move of God, and ultimately, planting churches in this region, please contact me if you feel God is calling you.
It was also a great blessing to be able to meet David and some of the other brethren who came with him, and I believe it was a very fruitful time to fellowship and admonish and encourage and be admonished and encouraged. David is planning on hosting a missions conference, Lord willing, this October in Brownsville, TX. The name of the conference is, “A Purpose Driven Death” and the subject is how God uses missionary hardship and martyrdom to pioneer the Gospel into hard and unreached regions. If you may want to attend or want information about it, email me.
We are now back in Tijuana and are selling the little amount of possessions we have left in our house. After that, we plan on sojourning in the US for a month or two, and during this time, acquiring some much needed ministry equipment which will enable us to preach to many more people, and also during this time making all the preparations necessary for our next journey deep into southern Mexico (which would be a much longer journey this time, at least a number of months duration) if the Lord permits. Please keep my wife and I in your prayers as the Lord leads. And pray for mercy for the nation of America as I believe great catastrophe is just right around the corner in terms of war and financial hardship.
I want to extend a special word of appreciation to our friends and supporters who have been faithfully praying for us and supporting us financially in order that we can continue to do what we’re doing in like manner, and we pray that God will bless you and increase the fruits of your righteousness in return. We trust our labor in the Lord is not in vain.
May Christ be glorified! May the Lamb who was slain receive the reward of His suffering!
In Christ – Josef Urban