I have been postponing this update blog for three weeks, one week at a time. The reason: I wanted to announce that we had baptized ten of the young men from “Under the Tree” drug/alcohol rehab, where I lead a bible study.
Sadly, this never happened. Here’s how it came about; February 2nd, at the end of the Bible study, one of the young men asked about baptism, and expressed a desire to be baptized. I briefly explained about how and why baptism is done in most Protestant churches and 8 of the young men wanted to be baptized. I told them I would give a baptism class the following week and make arrangements to baptize them in the fountain on our campus.
The following week I gave the class, making sure that the men understood that it was not their salvation, but a public declaration of their faith, their death to themselves, burial and resurrection in Christ. Now, not 8, but 10 of the young men wanted to be baptized. I asked the Ricardo, the director of Under the Tree, if he could have a list of anyone wanting baptism by Sunday so I could print the Certificates for baptisms the following Thursday.
When I went to pick the list up on Sunday, I was told that the facilities legal advisor had recommended that they obtained the permission of the young men’s parents, as they had been signed in by parents and, in effect, the parents had power of attorney over them. So, Arrangements were made to meet with the parents the following Sunday, when they had visitation. Sunday arrived and Ricardo and myself went from family to family, explaining what the baptism consisted of and that it was a baptism into Jesus Christ, not any denomination; just that, as young men and adults, they understood that Jesus was Lord and they were publicly announcing their faith in Him and commitment to follow Him. Virtually every family said no; though two did take a few days to think about it. Needless to say, the men, and I were heartbroken.
By now you may be wondering “What does this have to do with a circle of silence? What is a circle of silence?”
Here at YWAM Guadalajara, we are in what is called “The Circle of Silence”. This is a circle of 115 counties that are resistant to the truth of the Word of God, clinging to a Catholic religion diluted with Aztec beliefs and corruption. While Mexico, on average, is 8% evangelical Christian, inside the circle there is 1% or less evangelicals. Compare this to the nation of Nepal, bordered by China and India. Until 2016 Nepal considered itself to be a Hindu nation with the national motto being “To be Nepali is to be Hindu”. This nation is reported to have 1.5% Evangelical Christians.(Christian Post-March 3 2016)
The corrupt church here has the people believing that if they stray from the Catholic church they are doomed for hell.
To give some examples of what we are up against here, In Chapala, on the water front, is a giant statue of the “Virgin of Guadalupe” which they treat as a shrine, praying to her, lighting candles and leaving gifts. They have a duplicate, smaller version of the statue, which they take on a pilgrimage by boat, across the lake, to a village that is named after the “Ascension of Mary” as they believe Mary was a Deity, ascended like Jesus did and is a major part of their salvation.
Two miles to the other side of us, in Ixtlahuacan, the town wins an award each year for the tallest skeleton (30.7 meters or 100 feet) on the day of the dead. The Day of the Dead is on November 1st and it is believed that the Vail between our world and the afterlife is so thin that you can communicate with the dead. On this day they pack a picnic lunch and go to the cemetery to share lunch with dead relatives.
What about the corruption in the church here? Yesterday, I went to another rehab, where Gary, a pastor from the baptist church, teaches and Luke does worship. Gary was giving a lesson on salvation and asked how you can be sure of your salvation. One of the men there said ‘That’s easy, just give money to the priest and he’ll get God to forgive you’ he went on to say that it didn’t matter what you did; rob someone or kill them, as long as you gave money to the priest you get to heaven. In another example, they have celebrations here for different saints just about every other week. People from the catholic church parade through town collecting money for fireworks and such. One lady told us that, if they don’t give, they can expect some sort of vandalism over night.
Most people here don’t own bibles and those that do are discouraged from reading it too much because, If they aren’t trained, it will just confuse them. Luke told me that, often, if you try to give them a bible they will ask if it’s a catholic bible, and refuse to take it if it isn’t, not knowing that the only difference is that a catholic bible has the Apocrypha(a few books that Jewish and protestant scholars recognize as historical but not inspired by God)
S0, as you can see, to have 50% of the young men in the rehab center accept Christ and want to be baptized is a big step. To bring the gospel to the people in this are is a big job. Why do we do it? Because, when Jesus said to go to all nations, making disciples and baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, He knew about the Circle of Silence, and he didn’t exclude it.
Thanks to donations received by Luke, we picked up 500 bibles today. Not coincidentally, I had a vision this morning during devotions. In the vision I saw a map of the Circle of Silence and, (Showing my age a little) it was like the beginning of the T.V. show Bonanza, where it shows a map of the Ponderosa and a little smoke appears, then a little flame comes through burning a bigger and bigger hole. I believe God is saying that he will start a fire in the circle and his word will be heard here.
As always, as I live primarily on donations from faithful Christ followers, I am asking for your help. Right now, my small retirement and donations allow me to stay here, but there is so much God has given me vision for. $10,000 is needed to equip the Endurance Discipleship Training School that God has given me vision to lead this fall. That is the cost of 7 canoes and equipment for 10 students and 4 staff to take the gospel around the lake. We would like to purchase a total of 10,000 bibles at the cost of $30 Pecos ($1.50U.S) each. All donations through the link below are tax deductible.