God has been faithful to our small mission work in Argentine. We have come to realise more clearly than ever that God saves people ‘where they are’.
Their sins and ignorance, and the consequences of previous bad teaching, must be handled with a gospel spirit.
If you think it should be easy to maintain ‘the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ with only two new converts in a nine-month-old mission – well think again! Our enemy does not sleep!
In December there arose such envy and jealousy between the two converts that I was sure it would put a quick end to the work we had been so desperately trying to establish. We all met together one Sunday morning to resolve the matter, if at all possible.
I had prayed about it nearly all Saturday night and prepared a host of Bible texts to bring to their attention – teaching them their duty to love and labour together in the body of Christ.
We got together, and I soon felt thoroughly exhausted and weakened by the grief and burden of it all. To be honest, I felt ashamed I had not instructed these babes in Christ more thoroughly to guard against such a moment.
We were battling with the personal and cultural sins of ignorance, pride and ethnic prejudice, and also with specific, sharp sins against each other. I was not even sure I had the words in English, much less Spanish, to convey what was necessary to bring them together.
Heart to heart
Usually, I prepare my sermons, word for word, carefully measured. Now I must speak alone from my heart to their hearts, without notes. That morning my emotions moved from despair to discouragement. And I could not have predicted what I was about to witness.
I began speaking to them from James 4, ‘What causes quarrels and fights among you?’ After a brief explanation and application of this text, I started to read from my prepared list of Scriptures, beginning with the Gospel of John.
Many of these Scriptures spoke of our duty to love and serve one another in the gospel – as those for whom Christ died. By the time I got to 1 Corinthians 12, without any other input from me, God began to open their hearts to one another, so that they began confessing their weaknesses and sins.
I then read from 2 Corinthians 5:15: ‘and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised’.
They began to speak to each other in loving and peaceful ways, seeking forgiveness and embracing one another, accepting one another in Christ with tears.
It was over! The ending was more than I had hoped, but nothing I could have imagined. It wasn’t until later that Gail and I both wept with uncontrollable joy at the power of the Word of God and the Lord’s faithfulness to his own dear name and cause. As for us personally – we felt his care and sweet oversight of our lives as his servants in this place.
God has used that victory to assure us of his intention to make his name glorious in Argentine. I am more convinced than ever that we must wage our spiritual warfare by the Word of God and forsake the arm of flesh.
Like Peter defending the Saviour in the garden, we may cut off an ear, but we will never restore and heal apart from the grace that comes from his powerful Word. We must use spiritual weapons to accomplish spiritual results.
‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood’ (Ephesians 6:12). ‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh … For the weapons of our warfare have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
We long to see the gospel of Jesus Christ exalted in Argentine and the kingdom of his Son expanded. May the Lord grant to our readers in the coming year victories accompanied by tears of joy, which your mind cannot imagine but your faith longs to see.