Everything We Really Need to Know

I never made it to Kindergarten. So, on sweaty-palm-Tuesday, I yanked on my itchy new clothes and entered school—cold turkey.

I played a lot of catch-up that first year and learned a lot about the Christian life. But where I really got my baptism in what the Christian life is all about came the next year when we went to South America as missionaries.

Jesús and Dr. Seuss

As a third-grader with about a three-word Spanish vocabulary—Buenos Días, Cha-cha-cha, and Jesús (it rhymes with “Dr. Seuss”)—we entered a world where toilets rarely existed, let alone the Robert Fulghum advice to flush them.

On our first Sabbath, we sang Spanish hymns without the bleariest notion what the words were all about.

What I Learned

But what I really remember from that first year in South America were the back-to-basics fundamentals of being an active Christian.

First, I learned, “It’s not you, it’s Jesús.” Talk about helpless when Jesús is about the only word you know! But that’s where the power lies.

We also learned the value of wandering around—being there for the people. (Our Anglo culture in America falls far short in this virtue.) And it’s not what you say while wandering around, it’s your attitude of openness and availability. Openness and goodwill say about 99.9 percent of the important stuff.

Just Do it

Another point. We learned that it’s not so important how you share your faith—but that you learn to enjoy it. (We kids made up games like, “Let’s get on our bikes and see how many Bible studies we can sign up today.” Crazy, but fun.)

And in the process, we learned that it doesn’t take a seminary graduate to give a good evangelistic sermon. One Sabbath morning, a nearly-illiterate laymen got up during the sermon time and told us that he’d started giving Bible studies, and he sure could use some help!

The guys on our little fútbol team laughed out loud, but by the end of the hour, we were so moved, we hit the streets that very afternoon with sign-up cards and snared 18 students for studies. Within two months, we had 125.

Then (another lesson!) we visited each person on our list at least one Sabbath a month—rode by on our bikes, said hello, and asked them how the lessons were coming.

That’s how our witnessing got done. And when evangelism time came around, the fútbol team led out in the series. Needless to say, our Bible students showed up in force!

Déjà Vu

The same kind of thing is starting to happen in many Northwestern churches today. And surprisingly, our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters are often leading the way.

Noé Ortíz, 11, a young preacher in Chehalis, Wash., is pictured on our cover. A few weeks ago, Noé preached an evangelistic series that led to five baptisms.

He knows that when it comes right down to it, “The yoke is easy, the Holy Spirit is with us, so how can we fail!”

That’s really about everything Noé really needed to know as he began his evangelistic meetings.

Let’s not forget that we’re on a super, winning team this month as many of us open our hearts and church doors for “Hope for the Homeland.” •

September 01, 2002 / Editorial

Edwin A Schwisow