A Review of 2013
This is a brief update of the progress of our missionary activities during 2013.
6 Years in Mexico!
As of October, it is six years since we arrived to Mexico as missionaries. We praise God for His faithfulness these past 2,190+ days! By God's grace, we've been privileged to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached in many places all around the country, accompanied by not a few conversions and brethren being awakened to a more complete understanding of the scope of the whole counsel of God as revealed in Scripture. It is impossible to convey in words the awe of seeing God the Holy Spirit move and transform lives by the power of the Gospel, and we are debtors to God's mercy to the praise of His glorious grace. We can't help but to exclaim with the apostle Paul, "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and inscrutable His ways! For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever." Amen!
It has now been two and half years since our 4 boys, Ceasar, Angel, Gustavo and Alex came to live with us! Here's a picture of them earlier in the year when we took a trip to the woods:
It is our firm conviction that church planting it THE work of biblical missions. The local church is central to God's saving purpose for the world and is the base from which the Gospel is to be proclaimed, taught, defended, and spread to the far corners of the earth. Our principal focus in ministry is that of planting biblical churches in Mexico. Many have asked where these places are where are are working, so below you can see a map showing our existing church plants.
Strengthening Existing Church Plants
In 2013, we have been plugging away with all our might at the church plants in Guadalajara and Mexico City. Aaron Block and I have been alternating between the churches, preaching on a rotating basis. This has worked out well, and we are seeing the churches grow in grace, number and maturity. There are currently between 350-400 people who are congregating between the 3 church plants, a portion of which have joined themselves to the membership.
We've been privileged to see many baptisms this year. Between the two church plants in Guadalajara and Mexico City, we have baptized about 70 believers in 2013! More importantly, many of them are new converts in whom God has done a glorious work of grace. We praise God for such sweet demonstrations of His stedfast love in our midst!
New Church Plant Started
Around June-July, we also started a new church plant in the city of Queretaro. We are currently preaching in Queretaro on Saturday evenings, and then traveling to Mexico City Sunday mornings to preach the Lord's Day meeting there, until the Lord raises up more men to be helping with the preaching rotation. It is encouraging to see the Lord move in Queretaro and unite a group of believers who are committed to the Lord and each other as a biblical local expression of Christ's church. We hope to switch the Queretaro meetings to Sunday if the Lord wills, and to baptize the believers there who are in need of being baptized early in 2014. In the meantime, they are meeting on Sundays for group Bible study, and during the week for prayer meetings and open air evangelism.
Another Church Plant on the Horizon?
We are currently in contact with a group of believers in Monterrey (another mega-city in Mexico toward the north), and are planning to visit them and preach on a regular basis if the Lord wills. I hope to make my first visit in February 2014 if the Lord permits, and hold a conference to help launch an effort at another church plant. We are praying for the Lord's provision and leading with regard to Monterrey.
In 2013, I was able to do a couple of evangelism training conferences with Aguas Vivientes in the cities of Chihuahua and Morelia. Since I've been far too busy between our church plants to be doing evangelism conferences, I'm working with some brothers who will begin a new evangelistic thrust in 2014, to equip them to conduct evangelism conferences in my place. This is an exciting new ministry opportunity which will enable us to receive many more invitations to train churches and groups in street evangelism, since these brothers will be able to use our curriculum to teach brethren all over the country.
Gospel Tract Design & Distribution
We have been able to distribute thousands of Gospel tracts in 2013. Currently, we have two different tracts that we designed and distribute, selling them to brethren so they can use them in their personal evangelism. We sell them in packets of 100 tracts each at near-cost in order to recuperate our printing costs and do continual print-runs. These are extremely useful for mobilizing brethren in evangelism, as Gospel tracts greatly facilitate conversation-starting on the streets. It is in our plans to produce two more tract designs in early 2014 in order to double our current selection of tracts. You can our current two tracts in the links below:
--El Padre Nuestro
We currently have 3 evangelism teams that are evangelizing on a weekly basis, each associated with its corresponding local church. These teams each consist of a local group of believers who meet together to conduct organized outreaches in their city. They are currently involved in hospital visitation-evangelism, drug rehab center preaching, open air preaching, tract distribution and personal evangelism on the streets. We praise the Lord for their faithful and consistent efforts to preach Christ to the lost! Over the course of 2013, we can only guess how many hundreds, or thousands, of people heard the Gospel through their efforts.
Hurricane Disaster Relief
In September, a destructive hurricane hit Mexico's West Coast, mainly affecting the state of Guerrero. Many people lost their lives, and countless homes, cars, and properties were destroyed. The city and villages where we spend 4 months in 2008 were also affected, and some believers we know lost their homes. So a group of brethren from our church in Guadalajara united to engage in some disaster relief while using such an opportunity to preach the Gospel.
Through our contacts, we were able to get some of the brothers some preaching engagements in churches, in the local jail, and in the villages. They also conducted some open air campaigns to preach the Gospel to the villagers. In addition to giving away a cargo-van and trailer full of food and supplies, they were also able to give away 50 pastor's packets which contained Charles Leiter's Justification and Regeneration, a MacArthur Study Bible, Grudem's Systematic Theology, and other books such as John Murray's Redemption: Accomplished and Applied (one of my all-time favorites!), Spurgeon's sermons, etc. We were also able to purchase thousands of dollars worth of books which were given away to receptive believers and Bibles which were given to receptive unbelievers. The books are of titles which are not available at their local "Christian" bookstores. Much could be said, but to summarize, brethren were helped, the poor had the Gospel preached to them, and many resources promoting sound doctrine were strategically given away to needy believers. We thank God for all the support we received for this. See pictures below (click to enlarge):
The J & R Project
We have succeeded in printing Charles Leiter's Justification and Regeneration, and were able to print 15,000 copies! We are giving them away to pastors and church leaders and selling them to others at cost so they can use them to give away and in their evangelism. We have already distributed about 3,000 copies! People are loving it and we're hearing testimonies of how it is impacting lives! Praise the Lord!
Chapel Library Literature
With their permission, we have printed thousands of copies of the nice little booklets distributed by Chapel Library in Spanish which we give out in our church plants and to brethren in other churches. We currently print many different titles with a printing machine we purchased.
In 2014, we are beginning a bookstore which will mainly be operated online. We will be sending books to believers all over Mexico. Our initial selection will contain about 70 titles which we will then grow from there. These titles are all hand-picked and sound in doctrine. We already have all the books and have only to make them available by uploading their information to our website. Among these are every single Puritan book translated into Spanish that I can get my hands on. In addition to selling books, we will also give them away to pastors and believers in need. Any profit made from selling these books will be put toward expanding the book ministry, including increasing the number of titles and purchasing books to give away to pastors, church leaders, and brethren who are serving the Lord.
Institute of Theological Studies
We are working hard to launch an in-house and online training institute to teach theology in 2014 that will function as a part of our church in Guadalajara. We are planning to do this by working on one course at a time and teaching a group of men to rightly handle the word of truth. We also plan on adding them to an online database which will serve as a distance education system for teaching men the whole scope of traditional theological studies. The classes will be recorded and made available through online video and audio format. Much of the groundwork has already been done to launch this, and we hope to launch it in the first half of 2014 with our first group of students.
Expanding Media Resources
We're continuing to work on online media such as sermon recording in video and audio, sermon transcripts, and other resources through our ministry Cristianismo Bíblico. We hope to expand our online resources a great deal in 2014 if the Lord wills.
In Christ -Josef & Lina Urban (& Josiah!)
We are grateful for the financial support of our dear brethren. We want to express our heartfelt gratitude for those who have been so gracious to help us. If you would like to consider supporting us, after fulfilling your God-given responsibilities in your local church, you can find information on the "Support" page of this website.
May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!