The New Preacher in Town

 

s we celebrate  of ministry, I’ve been thinking a lot about family. I love how God’s Word reveals we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We are family! And families, as we know, are rather imperfect. I agree with the cliché that families are like a box of chocolates: “mostly sweet with a bunch of nuts.”

One of my favorite family members is someone I’ve never met. He came along early in LOGOI’s history and was a man filled with great flaws and trouble. He was an outcast, a “lost soul,” an alcoholic living on the streets in a place called Ushuaia (Argentina). His name is Eduardo and his story is also a wonderful Easter story.

It begins when a young man named Claudio began studying God’s Word through LOGOI in a neighboring town. As he completed his studies, he was sent to Ushuaia to plant a church. Claudio did not know how to start or what to do and was praying for God’s leading when the “crazy” idea came to his head to go to the local bar in the middle of the afternoon. I suspect a bit of folklore has impacted this story at this point, but the way I remember it being told is a bit like John Wayne kicking the saloon doors open as Claudio entered the bar. “I’m the new preacher in town,” he announced, “who wants to get saved first?”

Everyone in the bar laughed at the young preacher. Then after hurling a bunch of jokes and insults at Claudio, they pointed to a corner where a man sat stooped over clutching a bottle of booze. “Why don’t you start with that guy, preacher?” they laughed, pointing at Eduardo. “If you can save him, maybe we’ll listen, too.” They then laughed and scoffed at the
very thought.

Claudio, however, felt that that was a rather peculiar (but specific) answer to prayer, and from that point on, had a one-man mission field. He would help Eduardo get sober then tell him about Jesus. He would clean him up after a drunken binge then tell him about Jesus.  He would try to soften the vicious words and insults from others who didn’t know better and tell him about Jesus.

This went on month after month after month. Most of us would have given up. No doubt, Claudio wanted to give up, too, but something made him hang on. “God, save this man,” he prayed, “and use him to open the eyes of the people in this town so they can see you.”

Of course you already know…but on one very ordinary day, God’s light penetrated the darkness. In one life-changing moment, Eduardo believed in Jesus. A life filled with loneliness, rejection, insults, and misery was transformed into a life suddenly filled with hope. “Does God really love someone like me?”

Soon, the people in the town, especially the regulars at Eduardo’s favorite bar, began to notice a remarkable transformation taking place. So it won’t surprise you (even if it is with a bit of folklore) that one day Claudio could hardly wait to kick those bar doors open and with a huge, confident smile say, “Who’s next?”

There is a lot more to tell of what God did in that little town of Ushuaia. This is just part one. But in a wonderful and dramatic way, it’s the Easter message and illustrates the depths to which God will go to save and redeem us. The Easter message is: “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).

For our part, we (which includes you) provide on-the-job training and trusted Bible resources that people like Claudio need. God has given them all the ability, talent, and desire they need to proclaim the Gospel. We simply provide some much needed tools and encouragement along the way.

P.S. To hear the rest of this story, just invite me, Ed, to your church 🙂 What a fun way to celebrate 50 years of ministry!