The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Cor. 9:16; NKJV) That aptly summarizes the burden the Lord has impressed upon my spirit since my conversion, a burden which has driven me into Mexico to spend and be spent for souls during the last decade. As I reminisce on the days already spent in this pilgrimage, and anticipate what may come in the days ahead, my heart is filled with gratitude and hope, as I look to Him who is and has always been true and faithful.
To make a long story short: I'm a native of Ohio. My wife is from California. We met in Pennsylvania, moved to Michigan, and ended up in Mexico. Our two children were born in the land of the famous and beloved taco, a land that is not only renowned for its colorful cuisine that packs a pungent punch but is also the birthplace of those mustached trumpeteers they call the Mariachi. South of the border we have lived in Baja California, Guerrero, and Jalisco. Actually, we have moved about sixteen times in the past ten years. And we are moving again; this time back to Michigan for a season. Behold, the life of the missionary. You either have to love it or hate it. (To be honest, I do both, daily!)
The Lord rescued me from a destructive lifestyle of utter debauchery by a surprising and unexpected intervention of sovereign, saving power in early 2004. Two years later, I found myself doing full time street ministry, based out of Detroit, Michigan. We did outreach to the dwellers of the inner-city, below 8 Mile. Each week, we would preach in the open air, in rescue missions, on street corners, in schools, at conferences, and anywhere else the Lord would open a door. During that time, the Lord did an amazing work as we beheld thugs, addicts, and gangsters repent and turn to the One who bled for those despised by this world. We had big plans for that ministry, and for a while it seemed that it was going to turn into something big, but the Lord had something else in mind.
By a turn of events, moved by a burden to evangelize in Mexico, I ended up in a land whose language was not my own. After learning Spanish, I preached in the streets in central Mexico's denominated "Circle of Silence" (called such because of its relatively minuscule evangelical presence). The initial plan was to evangelize for a while, and then move back to the States to continue with life. Now, ten years later, I look out over a network of churches that has been raised up, wondering how I'm still in Mexico, and how these churches call this Ohio boy their pastor. Six churches have been planted, a couple more have been rescued and Reformed, and thank God, they are all Confessional, 1689 congregations. They are wonderful churches.
We founded a ministry called Cristianismo Bíblico, which focuses on everything related to gospel proclamation. The ministry is organized around our fellowship of churches, and publishes expository sermons in video and audio, theological teachings, books, tracts, and other resources. We run a literature distribution ministry that publishes the giants from the past in Spanish translation. We do conferences and events, and many other activities. The Lord has blessed us with a large and effectual open door to spread the gospel. We also focus on awakening the Hispanic world to Reformed theology through the tools the Lord has made available to us.
A major project that is in the works has us excited. We are in the plans of developing a seminary curriculum, in Spanish, to train men in Latin America and around the world. The ultimate goal is to have a streamlined divinity curriculum available to study through the internet and study sites. It is to be confessionally Reformed, robustly theological, historically grounded, and experientially oriented. As we contemplate the future progress of the gospel in Latin America, it is evident that the greatest need of the hour is for qualified leadership. Rather than doing church planting myself, directly, I hope to focus more on equipping other qualified men in Latin America who can plant and shepherd churches. The potential impact of this project in the long term far exceeds anything we have done up to this point. We are praying the Lord would prosper His cause in this, if it be His will for it to come to fruition through us.
I thank God for the theological training offered through Reformed Baptist Seminary (RBS). As I was down in the grind, deep within Mexico, RBS gave me the chance to pursue formal studies and obtain a degree. I was able to labor on the mission field while completing my studies. Attending a couple of the live modules was an amazing experience; the live instruction, interaction, and fellowship was as riveting as it was enlightening. With the tools gained through RBS, I can better serve the precious people of God that have little access to solid biblical resources in the third world. RBS has met and exceeded my expectations. The teachers are gifted servants of Christ, the depth of teaching is more than satisfactory, and the administration was always very kind and helpful. And, most importantly, they gave me nothing but sound doctrine.
Now, I hope to advance to complete my M.Div., and possibly a doctorate. The next season, if the Lord wills, will find me in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary has agreed to accept my credits from RBS, and I hope to spend a season at their institution delving deep into their extensive Reformation and Puritan libraries while working toward accredited degrees that may further equip and position me to teach at the level of both the local church and the academy.
May the Lamb who was slain receive the reward of His suffering!