God at Work in Latin America
About the Guest
Family is an international language. Pastor Fernando Lay of Quito, Ecuador, an avid listener of FamilyLife Today on HCJB, talks about the problems facing believers in Latin America. Fernando tells how believers in Quito celebrate Christmas, and what families in his church will be doing this year to reach others for Christ.
Family is an international language. Pastor Fernando Lay talks about the problems facing believers in Latin America. Fernando tells how believers in Quito celebrate Christmas.
God at Work in Latin America
Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition—Wednesday, December 2nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.
We’re talking, this week, about Christmas all around the world. And one of my sons had the opportunity, when he was a college student, to spend a semester studying abroad. He studied in Scotland—he loved it—but what he really loved was on spring break that year when he travelled around Europe. He called me; and he said, “I now, have more stamps on my passport than you have on yours.” He was pretty proud of the fact that he had been to more countries than—
Dennis: That can occur pretty quickly—
Bob: Yes, he got there quick.
Dennis: —in Europe. Well, speaking of more countries,—
Dennis: —how many countries do you think are Spanish-speaking, Bob?
Bob: I’m going to say that there are 43 countries. [Laughter]
Is that right?
Bob: Forty-four! [Laughter]
Dennis: This is getting boring—this is absolutely getting boring.
Bob: Oh, yes, I forgot that one! That’s right—there are 44. [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes, there you go. You counted them really quickly; didn’t you? Yes, 329 million Spanish speakers in 44 countries. The reason I know that is because Barbara’s joining us today, here on the broadcast. Welcome, sweetheart.
Barbara: Thank you, dear.
Dennis: I love the woman who is on the broadcast, Bob.
Bob: I know you do.
Dennis: I’m really proud of her. But she’s created some Adorenaments® which help families communicate Christ, here at Christmastime.
Bob: And in case a listener doesn’t know what an Adorenament is—that is an ornament that you hang on your Christmas tree that is all about Jesus.
Dennis: And there are now 26 of them.
Barbara: I believe that’s the correct math.
Dennis: There are different names in the Bible—in fact, there are over 300 names of Jesus in the Bible. She’s created these Adorenaments to remind us of who made Christmas famous and to help families truly celebrate the season.
I was reminded about this when I got a letter from a FamilyLife Today listener who said: “I listen to you guys every day. You encourage me to be a better husband and spiritual leader in my house. You have given me the tools needed to be the man God wants me to be. Thank you!” What I want our listeners to know is—especially the listeners who participate in this ministry by being a Legacy Partner / that’s a monthly donor—or if you make a yearend contribution—you are participating in ministry like that in this man’s life.
We’re going to talk about that today as we talk about some new tools that parents can use with their kids / their grandkids to pass on their faith in tangible ways. Ornaments get passed on, Bob; and these, I believe, are going to get passed down to generations if Jesus Christ doesn’t come back.
Bob: The month of December is a pretty critical month for us, here at FamilyLife.
Dennis: It is. We’re dependent on you, as a listener, to raise your hand and say:
“You know what? I want to keep you guys and Barbara continuing to create broadcasts and resources like this for me and my family so that we can be successful—as husbands and wives, moms and dads, and grandparents—in passing on our faith to future generations.”
We’ve got to do this folks. The family is in the crosshairs of the enemy, and he wants to destroy a Christian legacy before it has a chance to germinate. Would you stand with us? Would you make a yearend gift? We’ve got a special match that—well, why don’t you tell them about it, Bob?
Bob: Just had some friends of the ministry who came to us and said that they are willing to match every donation we receive, during the month of December; and they are going to do it double. Basically, if you give a $25 donation, they give a $50 donation. If you give $100, they give $200. Whatever you do, they’ll double it. We’re asking our listeners, “Would you make as generous a gift as possible so that we can take full advantage of this matching gift?”
The fund goes up to $2 million, and we want to take advantage of that.
You can do it by going to FamilyLifeToday.com and making a donation, online, right now; or you can call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY,”—make your donation over the phone and be a part of what God is doing through this ministry as we seek to provide help and hope for marriages and families.
Dennis: And let me just say, “Thanks,” to those of you who have already given this year. You keep this broadcast on stations all across the country proclaiming Christ at a needy time in our country’s history.
And I am holding the Adorenament that is in the name of Jesus in the Spanish language. That’s how I knew there were 44 Spanish-speaking countries and 329 million Spanish-speaking speakers.
Bob: Barbara, you have that printed—in fact, on the back of each of these ornaments, where you’ve put the name of Jesus in a different language, you have given us a little bit of information about each of the countries or each of the people groups that are represented here.
Barbara: Yes, that’s right because I think, as we’ve said, most of us don’t have a good appreciation for how many people speak these other languages. I think it’s real helpful for us to broaden our understanding of who makes up this planet on which we live.
Dennis: And a number of our resources are translated into Spanish. I know, Barbara, you wanted to do the Adorenaments in these languages just to remind parents so they could tell their children that Christmas is not just an American holiday.
Barbara: Christmas is an international holiday. He didn’t just come for a certain people group. He didn’t just come for His people—He came for the whole world. Seeing His name in other languages reminds us, as Americans—when we hang these ornaments on our tree—it reminds us that Jesus did, in fact, come at Christmas for every people in every tribe and in every language of the world.
Bob: So, do you have some Spanish-speaking countries stamped on your passport?
Barbara: I have one which would be Mexico. We have not been to South America / I have not been to South America.
Bob: Central America—not been to Central America?
Bob: And never been to Spain?
Barbara: No, and I don’t know why; but we haven’t.
Bob: Well, we don’t have anybody who lives in Spain joining us today; but we do have on the line with us someone who speaks Spanish. He’s actually a listener to FamilyLife Today—he listens to Vida en Familia Hoy®. FamilyLife Today broadcasts throughout Central and South America. This is the pastor of Iglesia Evangélica de Iñaquito. Did I say that right?
Fernando: That’s right. [Laughter]
Bob: We have Pastor Fernando Lay on the line with us. Pastor Lay—great to have you joining us.
Fernando: Nice meeting you and nice sharing with you.
Bob: And Fernando, I am told that you actually listen to Vida en Familia Hoy on the radio?
Dennis: Now, Bob, some of our listeners don’t know what that is.
Bob: Vida en Familia Hoy is the Spanish-language version of FamilyLife Today, which is broadcast throughout Central and South America on shortwave radio and on local radio stations.
Somebody told me you’re listening to our program.
Fernando: Certainly. Vida en Familia Hoy is broadcast by HCJB.
Fernando: And our church is across the street from HCJB. [Laughter] They are our closest friends. So, my wife and I listen to the radio program at quarter to five in the morning. [Laughter]
Fernando: Actually, Bob Lepine’s Spanish version wakes us up. [Laughter]
Dennis: That’s a frightening thought. [Laughter] You’ve been listening for how long?
Fernando: Oh, at least two years—
Fernando: —especially since we got in touch with FamilyLife ministry, here through Campus Crusade [for Christ®]. Armando Tamayo, who is the Director for Campus Crusade in Ecuador, offered us the materials and everything. So, we really got to know and appreciate everything that FamilyLife is offering.
Bob: So, tell us about the issues facing families in Latin America. Are they similar—are the issues we are addressing on FamilyLife Today relevant in the culture in which you are ministering?
Fernando: Yes, very much. I think that the problems that you address are global. We have in Ecuador, for example—in the last ten years, marriages have grown about
17 percent; but divorce has grown in 93 percent—
Barbara: Oh, wow!
Dennis: Oh my!
Fernando: —in Ecuador. That’s what the official statistics say.
Dennis: Fernando, the church, here in America, is attempting to address the breakdown of the family here in our country. I know you must be doing the same in yours.
We created a resource—I’m just wondering if you’ve had a chance to see it and use it because it has been translated into your language—
—the Spanish language. It’s called The Art of Marriage®—a video series that can be shown in an event or in a small group setting with couples. Have you heard about that and used that in your church?
Fernando: Not yet—we are very much interested. In fact, let me tell you that our church is 60 years old; but the last three years, we have been shifting our priorities. Another vision—start by saying, “We are here to disciple families.” With that, we started doing a family congress once a year in the month of April.
We’ve also created a network—a coalition. Right now, we have seven specialized ministers on family. And one of them is Campus Crusade and FamilyLife, of course. This network has the goal of mobilizing and motivating the local churches to minister to the family, which is something that we didn’t do in the past.
We hope to share materials/videos. We are just encouraging local churches to get into this movement towards the family.
Dennis: Fernando, for a number of years, I have made the statement—actually, for a number of decades—I’ve said, “Family is an international language.” Families are families regardless of the culture. They have profound spiritual needs that, I think, were designed by God that only He can meet in the person of Jesus Christ and through the gospel of Christ. That’s what we’ve been attempting to do in more than 109 countries around the world—yours included—as well as back here in the States.
And I am absolutely thrilled that your church has targeted discipling families because families are the generational connectors of the gospel and taking the reality of the Bible and the truth about God to future generations.
Fernando: I really praise the Lord for your ministry. We thank you for what you are doing because we have suffered—what I consider now a wrong model for the church and discipleship.
Let me make very clear—I have a deep gratitude for missionaries who brought the gospel here. I was saved thanks to missionaries from Scotland and United States—that was 50 some years ago.
But the church has developed a very individualistic model—separating the family. The model of Christian education that I learned at the Bible seminary was: “Make a department for children, another one for young people, women here, and the men over there.”
We separated the family / we fragmented the family. I think that was very, very wrong.
That’s why, three years ago, we rediscovered biblical principles that have guided us to work / edify the church through families. We believe that healthy families will be a natural and powerful witness to the entire society.
Bob: And I’m just curious about how God is at work in Central and in South America. Here, in the United States, we’re seeing an increase in the number of people who no longer consider themselves affiliated with any religion. They say, “We’re not interested in religion.” We still see God at work, obviously; but it does feel like the church and its influence here is shrinking. What’s it like where you are?
Fernando: Of course, in Latin America, we always follow what happens in United States or Europe. So, some leaders on the universities/government—they think that we are progressing when we follow or imitate what you just mentioned.
Fernando: And it’s a sad thing.
Bob: At the same time, you are seeing God at work in the lives of lots of people all around South America and into Latin America; right?
Fernando: Yes, the church is growing; but let me make a difference—there are some churches that represent the tendency of prosperity, preaching a very light gospel—
Fernando: —of all blessings, all happiness, all material benefits. They don’t preach about the cross. They don’t preach about suffering.
They don’t do much of social ministry for the poor, et cetera. Unfortunately, that model of church is also growing. There are more people in the church, but they do not really understand what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ. Christianity is becoming very superficial.
But we still have a strong movement of the evangelical Bible-based churches. The key of all this is the mobilization of all the believers who understand that their job is not done by pastors, or missionaries, or evangelists. We’re trying to mobilize the believer, and that goes through the family and training disciples. We are especially strong on relational evangelism—more than campaigns or one-man crusade; you know?
Dennis: I think you are going at it the right way.
A grassroots spiritual awakening will occur when individuals, and couples, and families begin to proclaim Christ to their next door neighbors,—
Fernando: That’s right.
Dennis: —to their people at work, to their friends at school. And there is nothing more powerful in your country or in ours than a marriage and a family—even in their imperfections and in the ways that they don’t match up—of following Christ and making Him Lord of their home.
Barbara: How do families in your part of the world—how do they celebrate Christmas? And the reason we wanted to talk about that with you is that we started creating a set of ornaments to help families communicate the gospel. So, we wanted to find out a little bit about what you do because the ornaments are all about Jesus. They are the names of Jesus that are made into ornament shapes to be able to hang on a Christmas tree.
Fernando: Well, of course, we have to struggle / we have to battle against the influence of commercial Christmas and all the businesses who are two months early—
—already presenting their special offers; you know?
Fernando: “Buy now, pay in March.” [Laughter]
So, we, as a church—we’re always preaching, especially in November—we start preaching against materialism / hedonism—try to strengthen the good values. The spiritual meaning of Christmas—we try to explain. We are not legalists. We’re not preaching against certain traditions. We let the people choose how they want to—but we always say: “Make sure that you have the meaning of Christmas made clear. And if you can, leave aside all the secondary trivial things around Christmas.”
But this year—for example, we usually, as most churches, we had the tremendous effort—
—investing time, people, and money—on making a big celebration for Christmas—you know, using drama, and the concert, and this, and that.
Fernando: This year, we changed everything. We’re preparing a DVD—a video production of 25 minutes. You see a little bit of music, a little bit of drama, and an evangelistic message. We are hoping to get at least 500 families involved to use this DVD to have home meetings / family meetings—
Bob: A Christmas party.
Fernando: —a Christmas party—
Fernando: —with relatives, neighbors, for adults / for children—and just let them put the DVD on their television set and evangelize.
Dennis: That’s great.
Fernando: I would say is, “The best way to honor Jesus at Christmas”—
Fernando: —“is to let His purpose of for coming to this world—to bring more people to the Kingdom.”
Bob: I think if we lived in Quito, we’d probably all come to your church. [Laughter]
Fernando: You’re all welcome. [Laughter]
Dennis: I’m going to get to your country someday. When I do, I’m going to look you up.
Dennis: I’m going to knock on your door at 5:15—[Laughter]—at a quarter ‘til 5—and—
Dennis: —and wake you up in person rather than having our broadcast wake you up there.
Dennis: I want to say one thing just for a moment, Fernando—back to folks, here in America, who financially give to make FamilyLife Today possible here in the States. I want you to know—especially you, Legacy Partners—when you give, you make it possible for us to put our broadcast on in Quito, Ecuador. You are making FamilyLife Today heard on the internet in dozens of countries around the world. And Bob, I just want to say, “Thanks,” to folks for giving and standing with us in this ministry.
Bob: Yes, this is a part of how we try to be good stewards of the money that is invested, here at FamilyLife, because we believe that God wants every home to be a godly home. And that’s our goal—is to see families re-centered on God’s Word—first bowing their knee to Him, and then loving and serving one another, and then looking outward to the neighborhood and the culture and saying, “This is what God made us for and let’s embrace it.”
Fernando: Let me add our gratitude to the donors of FamilyLife because that investment is making possible for you to develop materials, the radio program, and literature—that, now, we are using in Latin America, reaching hundreds and thousands of families.
Dennis: It is leaders, like you on the frontlines, grabbing the tools / grabbing the resources that we create, and you’re using them. I just applaud your leadership. Thanks a bunch.
Fernando: Thank you.
Thank you. It’s so nice to get to know you. God bless you.
Bob: And I hope, too, that we get a chance someday to come down to Ecuador because I’d love, not only to see what’s happening in the church there, but I’d love to be able to tour the radio studio that is feeding Vida en Familia Hoy to countries throughout Central and Latin America.
Of the languages that are on the ornaments that you’ve created, Barbara, the one we have the closest kinship to is Spanish. We know more Spanish speakers than any other language, and half of us took Spanish when we were in high school; right?
Barbara: Yes; and we probably all know a few Spanish words, here and there, or we see them in print, or hear them—
Bob: Yes, like enchilada or burrito. [Laughter]
Barbara: Taco. [Laughter] And we have more Spanish neighbors than we probably do the other languages as well.
Dennis: Well, we have, undoubtedly—well, I can’t say more Spanish-speaking listeners—but we are heard in more than two dozen countries that are Spanish-speaking.
Listen to these countries—Argentina, Aruba, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela. I mean, we’ve got quite a listening audience.
I’m glad that there is a guy that we pay to do the Spanish-speaking Dennis in these countries.
Bob: Rather than you doing your Spanish?
Dennis: I don’t do Spanish very well. It is así-así—
Dennis: —so-so. [Laughter]
Here’s what I’d encourage our listeners to do—join us in the end-of-year match and make a generous donation. Keep us on the air, here in America, and in these Spanish-speaking countries. As you give your gift, also order a set of “His Name Among the Nations” Adorenaments—Barbara’s creation of some of the most widely-spoken languages in the world—
—Adorenaments that will help your family get a vision for the world and talk freshly about John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life.” What a great message, here at Christmastime, Bob.
Bob: And certainly, when you see these ornaments on your tree, you can go, “That’s Arabic,”—gives you a prompt to pray for people who are in the Middle East / people who are Arabic speakers—pray that they might come to know Christ at Christmas. When you see the Jesus name in Hebrew, you can pray for the peace of Jerusalem. When you see the Spanish name of Jesus or you see it in Mandarin, you can pray for the people groups that are represented there as a part of how you celebrate the Christmas holidays.
Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and see the ornaments that Barbara has created. All you have to do is click on the link for Ever Thine Home®.
Again, the website, FamilyLifeToday.com—you can also call to order a set of ornaments. Our toll-free number is 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329. Again, it’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.” Or order, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com.
And then, don’t forget what Dennis talked about earlier. We have a special matching-gift opportunity that’s available for those of you who would like to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, here at yearend. Your yearend contributions are important for us, as a ministry. In fact, when you make a donation today, that donation is going to be matched and effectively tripled. So, if you are able to make a $25 donation today, these friends of the ministry have said they’ll match that with a $50 donation. Whatever you are able to do, they will triple the amount.
So, would you consider going to FamilyLifeToday.com and making an online donation?
Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—make your donation over the phone. Or you can mail a donation to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; the zip code is 72223. And we hope to hear from you. Hope you can help support us, here at yearend.
And we hope you can be back with us tomorrow when we’re going to talk about how God is at work in the 10/40 Window. We’ll look at how people in the Middle East are hearing the gospel, and I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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