I had the privilege of spending last week traveling through a small part of Texas with my friend Josué Hugo Fernández. This was his first visit to Texas. Josué was born in San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina. He has been in ministry for more than 20 years, pastoring churches, working with youth in drug rehab and creating food programs to feed homeless children. He has served as a youth pastor in New York and as a senior pastor in Argentina. Josué and his wife, Liliana, have five children and they live in Cordoba ,Argentina. During my time with him I learned that Josué is truly a man of God with a servant’s heart.
We spoke to over 120 people at six events in five cities presenting Overseas Council’s Latin America ministry. We drove over 980 miles through the beautiful Texas countryside, tasting Texas fare, learning some Texas history, visiting some Texas landmarks and enjoying some great fellowship.
In each of the venues, Josué spoke with wisdom and wit and caused all who heard him fall in love with his Argentinean accent and Latin charm. Armed with projector, screen, television and computers, we utilized videos and PowerPoint presentations and dialogued with authoritative influence to dazzle long-time-donors and new-to-ministry attendees alike. We were quite a team, an unlikely duo of a Texas Calvinist and an Argentinean Pentecostal doing what we could to serve OC and His Kingdom!
THE REAL FACE OF TRANSORMATION
While I spoke about Overseas Council in very general terms, Josué’s topic was “The Real Face of Transformation.” He talked about the many social and political problems that the people of Latin America face every day. These problems include the drug wars that have led to the thousands of families without male figureheads and hundreds of thousands of homeless children and teenagers that are exposed to exploitation and abuse all over the continent. He said, “In many instances the government does not know what to do. Their answer to the drug war is to put people in prison in hopes that will rehabilitate them.” Well, we know how that works! Many that go to prison come out better criminals than they were when they went in. He described a good news/bad news scenario that we see in many places in the world. Good news: the church is growing. He indicated that studies show that by 2020, half the population of Brazil will be Christian. Bad news: these new believers will not have a solid foundation of beliefs because of the lack of properly trained leadership. The lack of trained leaders can easily leave the church with lack of Biblical truth, syncretistic thinking and church schism. OC is meeting the challenge of these problems through partnerships with over 25 strategic seminaries throughout Latin America, training thousands of pastors and church leaders with real transformational education. (See my blog of May 2, 2011 to see what this means.) I believe these Christian leaders are the hope of the countries facing these many problems. I would like to invite you to view a short video of one such leader that I think you will find inspiring at http://youtu.be/XCkraoIBhGY . The video features Josué telling a moving story about a man in Colombia that once was a hit man for the Pablo Escobar drug cartel but is now giving hope to the very community where he used to spread violence. Please feel free to share this video.
OUR TRIP WAS NOT ALL WORK
Along the we visited the Texas Ranger museum in Waco where Josue learned the real story of this unique Texas crime fighting unit. Another of our stops was San Antonio. Of course, you can’t go to San Antonio without visiting the Alamo and having lunch on the famous River Walk. We did both. Josué was patient with me as I told him the history surrounding the Alamo and looking at the list of Alamo defenders discovered there were no Argentineans involved in this epic event. I was not sure if this delighted him or dejected him! After my rather exaggerated history lesson and a walk through the sacred grounds of the Alamo, we headed across the street to the busy walkways along the waters of the River Walk. After eating lunch, we walked for a few minutes along the river and I treated Josué to a dessert of the local favorite ice cream, Blue Bell, made in…where else…Texas.