8/1/13 Raphael about 45
While leading a Bible study at Dunkin’Donuts I noticed man sitting nearby who seemed to be taking an interest in what we were saying, so I reached out to him afterward and was surprised to find out he really didn’t know any English. Raphael is from Mexico and when I asked him about his beliefs he dismissed belief in God or Jesus Christ as relatively unimportant compared to belief in “The Virgin” – the virgin Mary who is believed to have appeared in Mexico in the 1500’s as “Our Lady of Guadalupe” and has since become revered as “the Queen of Mexico”, a national icon, and proclaimed “Patroness of the Americas” by Pope John Paul II. After all, Raphael reasoned, “she is the Mother of God”. After talking with him a while I also found out he believes in reincarnation after this life, and has never really read the Bible for himself. He is simply at the mercy of folk and church traditions, and I believe also at the mercy of this spiritual icon of unbiblical and questionable origins who seems to give and take away earthly blessings at will. Raphael defended belief in The Virgin vigorously, even to the point where it would be unthinkable to question her. I wondered how to gently but firmly help him understand Mary’s role as simply the human (and fallible) earthly mother of Jesus, and the importance and pre-eminence of Jesus as the one and only eternally begotten Son of God. Without his respect for the Bible as God’s word, it was hard to make much headway with Raphael, but I think the Lord may have used our conversation to help me prepare for an upcoming trip to Mexico along with a team from our church to help plant a church location there. It was a reminder of the importance of prayer and evangelism, and primarily evangelism to men, whom God appoints to be the spiritual head of their household. My primary prayer is for men who will “believe and be saved”, and then recognize their responsibility to lead their family spiritually according to God’s word – not according to the confusing mix of traditions and luck that folk religion has become. I pray also for the mothers, teenagers and children that our team will be reaching out to, but it is godly men who need to form the backbone of a new church plant and who will appreciate a Bible-based and Christ-centered local church that will help them lead their families in the things of God. Lord willing, we will be there 10 days, and I expect it will be an intense and often difficult struggle “doing the work of an evangelist” as Paul advised Timothy. We leave next week. Will you pray for us?