Responding in Faith
By Mike Gendron
There is no greater joy than seeing God reconciling the world to Himself and no greater privilege than to be used by Him as He accomplishes His purpose. Such was the experience last month, as 19 soul winning, Gospel proclaiming, church planters traveled to Acapulco, Mexico for eight earnest days of laboring in fields white for harvest. Working with the local Bethel Baptist Church we saw 198 people make a decision to trust Jesus Christ as their only hope of salvation. Almost all the new believers had been baptized Roman Catholics, so their decision involved repentance from things that could never save them and turning to Jesus, the only One who saves completely, those who come to God through Him. Many of our team of 19 missionaries had never witnessed the awesome display of God's sovereignty, the penetrating power of His Word, and the sanctifying work of His Holy Spirit in a way that brought such joy to so many! All week long we praised God for His amazing grace. Following are some lasting impressions...
How God sovereignly accomplishes His purpose
About a month before the trip, Jim Spoontz of Global Missions Fellowship, asked me if I would teach the members of his team how they could be effective witnesses to the predominately Roman Catholic population in Mexico. So, two weeks before the trip we gathered at Denton Bible Church and I explained the Catholic plan of salvation to them and the Scriptures they could use to bring Catholics to repentance. After the session, Jim said, "Wouldn't it be nice if God would provide a way financially for Mike to go on the missions trip with us? Why don't we pray about it?" Someone commented there's not the much time, everything must be turned in within 6 days. Jim said, "Yes, but look what God accomplished in 6 days, He made the heavens and the earth." After the prayer, Graciela Lugo, who was not going on the trip, but was invited by a friend to learn about witnessing to Catholics, asked Jim how much it would cost to send Mike. When Jim responded it would cost $985, Graciela said, "I can write a check for that amount. God has laid it on my heart that Mike needs to go with you." There was complete silence in the room as everyone was in awe of what God had accomplished so quickly. What a mighty God we serve. We were worried about six days and it took only six minutes to stir the heart of one of His children.
How God sovereignly directs our steps
On Monday morning, our first day of door to door evangelism in a remote village of Acapulco, God directed our team to a lady who welcomed us into her home. She said she had tried Catholicism and then Mormonism but she still had a yearning desire to know God. Within 30 minutes of hearing how much God loved her and what Christ had accomplished for her, she wanted to know how she could receive Jesus as her Savior. The name of this precious soul, the very first woman to be saved on our trip, and the one who was most anxious to know God, was Graciela! Was this a coincidence...the name of the one who sponsored me and the name of the first lady to trust Christ were identical? I believe it was the hand of God affirming His glorious sovereignty. One of the team members, Lily Schafler, said it appears God is leading us from "grace to grace."
After Graciela prayed to receive the gift of eternal life, she asked us to tell her 12 year old daughter about Jesus. Within an hour Adriana also prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior. The next day Graciela was handing out tracts and inviting friends to the Bible studies we held each evening in the village.
On God's amazing grace in the midst of extreme poverty
One of the families from Bethel Baptist that I evangelized with during the week and who hosted the evening neighborhood Bible studies in their home, lived in a 3 room "open air" house with no plumbing and no fans. The intense 95 degree heat and humidity caused continuous perspiration and fatigue. The environment, along with our constant battle with the flies, which were everywhere, made the conditions miserable. But God's grace sustained us and helped us focus on the work He had prepared in advance for us to do. As poverty stricken as our host family was, we were made aware of a more severe case when a 75 pound mother of 6 came by after lunch to see if there were any scraps or leftovers that she could take home to feed her family.
A most unique place for a Gospel presentation
On Wednesday morning, I went to Christo Rey Catholic Church to share the Gospel with the parish priest. Since he was unavailable I engaged a young man by the name of Abbey to sit with me in a pew in front of a 6 foot tall statue of the Virgin Mary. I laid out on the floor eight cards that represent what most Catholics are trusting in for their salvation. I asked Abby to point to the ones he believed were necessary to get to heaven. After picking six of the cards, I pointed Abbey to Scripture after Scripture that began to show him the errors of his faith. One by one he transferred his trust from things that could not save him to the only name under heaven by which he could be saved. I witnessed the power of God's word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit as he repented from trusting in his devotion to Mary, baptism, obeying the commandments, good works and church membership as the means for his salvation. He then prayed to receive Jesus Christ as His Savior. Praise God that He saves people in the midst of idolatry and apostasy.
The most blasphemous thing I have ever seen
Saturday afternoon I asked a bilingual friend, Alejandro Schafler, to go with me to the Cathedral to see if we could engage the archbishop of Acapulco in a gospel presentation. While we were in the Cathedral we observed not only all the offensive statues and shrines of the Virgin Mary, but an incredible sight that caused us to swell with anger. There was a sealed glass coffin containing a life-sized statue depicting the body of Christ, lying on its back, in a white robe, its face stained with blood and a crown of thorns on its head. One of its hands was outstretched and grasping several pesos (the paper currency of Mexico). In front of the coffin was an offering box for the congregation to give in exchange for God's mercy and grace. As we stood there several women wiped their hands on the coffin, and then on their face. I began to grieve for the poor blind souls who are held captive by the blatant deception and blasphemy of the Catholic Church. Is there no end to what Rome will indulge in to hold its people in spiritual darkness?
The commitment of GMF to make disciples
Whereas many para-church organizations are more focused on making "decisions for Christ," I was encouraged that Global Missions Fellowship is focused on obeying the Great Commission. They are committed to work through strong evangelical churches in major cities of the world to make "disciples of Christ." After the Acapulco campaign GMF commissioned the local church to disciple the new believers through cell churches and Bible studies in the neighborhoods where we worked. GMF will provide financial support to help the local church's discipleship program over the next 12 months.
This short term missions trip to Mexico culminated Friday evening in a joyful victory celebration at the church. All the new believers, the American team and members of the local church joined hearts in singing praises to the Lord of the Harvest for His amazing grace. It was a week I will never forget, nor will I ever forget the precious saints we left behind to carry on God's work in a country overcome with intense spiritual darkness. Will you kindly pray for these new believers, that the seeds we planted will grow strong roots in fertile soil, and bear fruit of its own?