For reasons that he explained to Timothy, Paul urged his young assistant to make his way to him in Rome. Visits from those whom we love and with whom we share the ministry are important. Even in this modern age of practically instant electronic communication through e-mails, skype, and calls on cellular phones, nothing compares to the experience of a personal visit. And so it is that as the Lord provides the opportunities we make every effort to visit our missionaries.
One of those opportunities came up last month as I visited our fellow workers in Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile. My main purpose was to encourage them and their families, and acquire a better perspective of how the Lord is using them to fulfill the Great commission. In Paraguay I traveled with Roberto Acuna to the town of Caaguazu (a four hour drive) where we visited ten radio stations. What a blessing to see how several station managers agreed to begin transmitting our programs after Roberto made a presentation of our ministry and they heard a sample of the broadcasts. This openness is not always present. The deep roots of the local religious traditions often times close the door to the missionaries’ attempts to introduce our broadcasts. At other times radio stations are reluctant to air our programs because they are familiar with other evangelical radio programs that ask for money. One of the station owners that we visited had rejected our programs a year before after he had aired another ministry’s broadcasts for free, but they contained appeals for donations. I was greatly encouraged by Roberto’s determination to visit this station again and assure the manager that we never make appeals of that nature. This opened the door for the transmissions in that station. This was also a time to minister to others. The church that Roberto and his family attend in city of Asuncion, invited me to be the main speaker during their Easter week camp. The theme was: “Living according to God’s heart”. Through a series of expository teachings about David, and with an attendance of about 100 people, several hearts were touched by the Holy Spirit and made the decision to accept Jesus as their Savior. Many others accepted the challenge to serve the Lord. This resulted in a blessing to Roberto and the church as a whole.
After a week in Paraguay I took off for Montevideo, Uruguay, to visit Eduardo Peirano and his family. I got to see their daily routine and experience some of the challenges that each member of the family faces in a complex city. I saw firsthand how often and difficult the matter of transportation can be, as they go about their daily tasks and ministry responsibilities. Add to this the constant increase in the cost of living. As we prepared to go to the city of Colonia, three hours west from Montevideo, Eduardo’s car developed a brake problem. The mechanic could not fix it on time for our departure; yet, there were appointments to keep with radio stations, and a meeting with several pastors in Colonia. Eduardo was visibly disappointed. I was sure that the Lord had taken me to Uruguay to encourage our missionaries. How could I encourage Eduardo? I decided to rent a rent a car, and thus we departed for Colonia. Eduardo rejoiced with the prospect of going to another town to search for new outlets for the proclamation of the gospel. We visited five radio stations. In one of these the owner, an atheist, was willing to allow us an on air interview. How encouraging! God was providing us with an opportunity to proclaim to the station’s listeners the message of salvation in Christ! Later that day we had a great time of fellowship with twelve pastors from several fundamental churches. Eduardo explained the purpose of our ministry and I was able to share how the Lord is reaching hearts through our programs in other countries. One of the pastors suggested that among several churches they could easily sponsor 15 minutes for our long program, and the rest of them agreed to consider this possibility. We had an encouraging day in Colonia! As I departed Montevideo, I realized that I never would have been able to make those contacts without Eduardo’s help. Likewise, had I not been there it might not have been possible for Eduardo to go to Colonia that day, and what we did could not have taken place without the faithful financial and spiritual support of our donors. Missions is a team effort!
My final stop was Santiago, Chile; to spend a few days with Andres Carrasco. Together we traveled through different towns visiting churches that either, sponsor our programs in secular stations or broadcast them in their own radio stations. In the town of Concepcion we visited a pastor that eight years ago realized the possibility of reaching unbelievers through the radio waves. Back then, Andres helped this pastor with all the requirements to obtain a license to broadcast.
Although the station only reaches a 30 miles radius, this church has witnessed the impact of reaching people with the Gospel through radio. The pastor shared the testimony of the Director of the local Police, who a few years ago visited him to share his burdens. The pastor was quite surprised to see this man in a place of authority opening his heart to receive counsel from God’s Word. Eventually this man decided to open his heart to the Lord! At the end of their conversation, the pastor asked him why he came to the church looking for answers.
He replied: “Listening to the programs that you broadcast, I realized that only in Christ I can find the answer to all my struggles. Your radio station was the instrument that God used to make me understand my spiritual need”. This man and others have come to the knowledge of the Lord as a result of the active role of this church in fulfilling the Great Commission. Seeing Andres and this pastor together, makes me thank God for providing me with the opportunity to confirm that as a ministry we are fulfilling our mission of assisting churches in Chile, and the rest of Latin America in the task of proclaiming the plan of salvation in Christ.
Having visited these three missionaries, I can reaffirm that in spite of the challenges and difficulties that our missionaries and their families go through, the number of outlets broadcasting the message of salvation in Christ is increasing. We all can be encouraged by the many opportunities that He opens for us to reach lost souls with the message of redemption through Jesus. Thank you, because thorugh your contributions our missionaries receive the needed support to fulfill with their call.
Thankful to the Lord for you, and with our hope fixed on the living God (I Tim. 4:10)