–Everyday, I ask God to help make some sales, and He always does.
–I have a lot of faith in Ñandejara (Guaraní word for God meaning “our owner”) so everything is good in my life. I have a peaceful life.
Those two quotes may seem innocent enough, but would it surprise you to know that they came from non-Christians’ mouths? This past week, we were blessed with the opportunity to visit a church plant in a neighborhood outside of the capital city. We went with some Paraguayan friends of ours, the ones that I met in 2004 on my week-long trip to Paraguay. We were accompanying them to the same little church plant effort that I helped with in 2004.
The work is a small one. Really, it hasn’t “progressed” at all since I was here last. My Paraguayan brothers earnestly desire to have a growing church in that neighborhood, but up till now the only people who come are children. While they wish that they did have adults attending, they see the work still worth it all, even if it’s just the children who come.
So why don’t adults come to the church? Simply put in their words, there aren’t many Christians in that neighborhood. The plan? Evangelism. I personally may be at the language level our mission requires to move on to a tribal ministry, but that doesn’t mean I’m very capable or comfortable sharing the gospel in Spanish. That is a very deep level of language. I’m more of a tag-a-long than anything in these situations. My pastor friends asked me if I would visit some houses with him. Of course I would, I replied.
We only visited one house. The house from which the quotes above were taken. My friend is not easily fooled by nice comments like the ones above. He knows that many people lack knowledge of Biblical truth. I sat and listened as he began to develop his gospel presentation. He thought it necessary to talk about mankind’s beginnings. The couple who we were visiting began to listen very intently to the story of God creating the world, Satan’s fall, and they got on the edge of their seats as he told them that God had formed Adam from dust and breathed His very life into him. It was all that they could do to not fall out of their seats. They acted like they had never heard that story before.
It’s possible they hadn’t. It’s amazing that in a country with so much religious form, there is so little Biblical knowledge. I’m not just talking about the tribes here. That’s another story. I’m talking about in the cities and towns. There is a need for people, like my Paraguayan friends in this story, to be out sharing the truth. My pastor friend continued on to describe how sin came into the world. Like in the United States, there are many people who don’t understand that they are a sinner in need of a Savior.
Many people in the United States think that if they haven’t killed anybody, or stolen anything, then they are basically good. That’s why when many people share the gospel in the States they say “You may think that because you’ve never stolen or killed than you’re not a sinner. But God’s Word says that all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…” To Americans, murder and theft are the biggies.
Of course, we know that sin is sin in God’s eyes. They are all biggies. But as my pastor friend shared he made a similar statement to the one above. In so doing he revealed something very insightful into this culture. He said “You may be thinking, I’ve never offended anyone, I don’t judge anyone, I try to live out a peaceful life. But God’s word says that all men have sinned…” Interpersonal relationships are a lot more important here in Paraguay, hence some pretty big offenses in Paraguayans eyes would be these mentioned things. What many people fail to recognize many times is that our sin is a breach in relationship with God, not man.
I thank God for the opportunity that we have to participate in the life of the local church here in Paraguay. It has given us great insight into these people who are our friends. There are many people in need of Christians who can skillfully and carefully articulate Biblical truth. It’s amazing as you read the Bible, you must recognize the connection between truth and salvation. You’ll also see that the epic battle that takes place in the Bible is one between truth and a lie. In fact, it is in this light that Jesus came into the world. “In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth…” (John 18:37)
This is what God has called all of us to do: to testify to the truth. Despite outward forms, many people still have darkened minds and hearts. They live their lives based on the lies they have always been told and believed. We must as Timothy be ready to preach the Word in and out of season, for the Word is truth. The scriptures testify to Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ claimed to be the truth as well if you recall.
Pray for us as we continue to learn culture to be able to be effective communicators of truth in this culture. Also pray as God keeps preparing us for a future tribal ministry.