Recently, I, along with my wife Pam, took a trip to Mexico. We were there for three weeks. We hoped to accomplish a number of things on this trip. Here is an update for those who follow GES’s work in other countries.
A Free Grace missionary couple, John and Alysse Stavropoulos, are serving in Chihuahua, Mexico. They are currently in the middle of learning the Spanish language, which involves hours a week of training with native speakers as tutors. It is always good for Free Grace folks to meet together and encourage one another. I hope we were able to be an encouragement to them. I know they were to us.
Part of the reason for this needed encouragement is that while John and Alysse are Free Grace, many of the missionaries in the area are not. Some do not understand the issues. Others do understand, but do not see the importance of making a distinction between Free Grace and other ways of interpreting the Scriptures.
John is hoping to teach in a Spanish speaking Bible college in Mexico when he is done with his language training. It is a possibility that I, in the future, may be able to help in some way in that area as well. I was able to attend many hours of classes, and hopefully, made some helpful comments during those classes. It was a way to introduce myself to the administration there. It was also a great opportunity to try and improve my Spanish.
In addition, I was able to give out some Free Grace material. I took along The Gospel Under Siege in Spanish and gave some as gifts to some of the folks at the school. I also took copies of Hebrews: Partners in Christ and gave out a few copies of it. The problem is that that book is in English and most people at the school cannot read English. Fortunately, the Mexican native who was teaching the book of Hebrews at the school was able to read English and I gave him a copy. The school has a very small theological library and, of course, I left a copy of The Gospel Under Siege for anybody who wanted to check it out.
There are also a number of other missionary couples in the area. We were there for three weeks and had a weekly Bible study on 1 John at John and Alysse’s home. It was a highlight of the trip for me. Those who attended asked outstanding questions and it was clear that they saw that 1 John was not written to provide its readers with tests to see if they were really saved or not. It was written to encourage believers, who already knew they were saved, to seek fellowship with the Lord. There is a big difference between eternal salvation and fellowship with Christ.
While there, I had the opportunity to speak to about 80 missionaries and some native Mexicans who work with the mission organization about the difference between Free Grace theology and Calvinism/Reformed theology. I used Mark 8:34-38 to show how an Arminian, a Calvinist, and a Free Grace person would interpret the words of the Lord. My goal was to show the many differences, and that our theology is very important in how we interpret the Scriptures. I also hoped to show, at least in that passage, that only the Free Grace perspective interprets it correctly in light of the context. There was some controversy over what I said, but I hope that it would cause those who were not Free Grace to at least look at the issue a little more closely.
I also had the opportunity to lead a Sunday school class and preach at a local Spanish speaking Baptist church. I spoke on the free offer of eternal life. It was obvious that I said some things (many things!) incorrectly in Spanish. It was a humbling experience. Anybody who has tried to speak another language knows what I am talking about. But I feel confident that they understood what I was saying, even if they laughed at my accent and how I worded certain things.
Thanks to John and Alysse for their hospitality. Their “casita” or “little house” behind their home was perfect for our stay there. Thanks too for all those who support GES and what we are trying to do. Thanks for all your prayers!