5 Bautismos: Ruben, Victor, Eduardo, Yamila, and Haley
Ruben is a 60 year old man that arrived at our church through a visitor that was attending our services for a couple months. When we met Ruben, he was a poor drug addict and alcoholic. Having lost his wife, he abandoned himself as well, losing his job, his house, and his relationship with his son. Eventually he looked for help in different churches and individuals, but it was all in vain. But (this is the dramatic, powerful, glorious and happy “but” in the story of all the elect!), according to the account he gave to us, he was converted when a member of the church came over to him before the start of one of our services and shared with him the gospel of the God who found a way to remain just while justifying us, sinners!
He told us that while he listened to this church member talk about the gospel, his heart suddenly filled with peace and glorious joy, and when he got home afterwards, he could not (literally!) stop praising God. So, Ruben was freed from depression, drugs and alcohol. His fruits as a new tree are very evident, and really he is an enormous blessing to the church. In fact, I would dare to say that he is one of the brothers that brings the most encouragement to our church with his ongoing and loving exhortations to believe the gospel and its promises.
Victor is a case that, if I had not seen him baptized, I would not be able to believe it. He is the husband of one of the sisters in our church and he first came to the church full of apathy. To understand his case, you need to know that he spent many years of his life as a member and leader in different churches, but lacking a sound understanding of justification through faith and of regeneration. In addition to this, he also suffers from a type of schizophrenia (which is regulated with medicine, but not entirely), which had brought severe afflictions both to him as well as to his family. When he came to us, he was simply looking for someone who understood him. As he himself said, he was looking for “a god that would comfort him without demanding any holiness.” So, when he came to the church and heard not just about the love, but also the holiness of the living God, he resisted and he refused both God and us.
But (again, the “but!”), on a certain day when he visited the church after a time of absence, showing the same apathy and even bitterness that he had before, through a sermon that Esteban preached, Victor found Christ. According to him, he came to the church so annoyed and unfocused that he didn’t hear anything Esteban said in his sermon, except for the final part when Esteban, though he was preaching on a topic that was particularly aimed at Christians, made an evangelistic call to all who were still without Christ. Victor heard the command of God with respect to repentance and he immediately responded, without knowing really what was happening. Since then, though I can hardly believe it, Victor has shown himself to be a fervent Christian noted for his sincerity. He is even preaching the gospel of the power and grace of God to others and is seeking to redeem the lost time with his family.
Eduardo is a case that has scared many of us, since he is one people that has been most self-deceived that we have seen with regard to his conversion. In his own words, “I became an expert in deceiving myself and others, to such a degree that neither me nor my wife knew my true identity.” Though with many tears Eduardo left his home-city and relatives in order to move with his wife to our city and church, he did not know that he himself needed to experience for the first time the power of the gospel to save him from himself and from the condemnation of God. So after more than a year in our midst, he was seriously convicted of sin and he sought me out to confess that he was still living in sin habits that he had never abandoned, and that (to our surprise) he had lied to us several times when we had asked him questions about these things.
His brokenness drove him to the dust and to misery, but Christ went looking for him and rescued him from condemnation, shame, and corruption! On the day of his baptism I heard Eduardo, one of the most intellectually astute teachers that I know, say, “When I read the Bible, I find that there is one group in particular which the Lord cannot bear, and who have even less hope than others: the religious hypocrites. And seeing that I was in that same group, I can hardly understand how the grace of God reached me and rescued even me.” Today, Eduardo is living a new life and he is being a beacon of the gospel in the school in which he works as a math teacher.
Yamila has a story that has so impacted and delighted me that it is difficult for me to even write about it. She is the wife of one of the members of our church and she arrived at Family of Grace around a year ago when her husband decided to move to the city to be a part of our fellowship. Yamila and her husband arrived with a very struggling marriage. She was very apathetic to the gospel for a long time and despised our church. Though we preached the gospel to her many times, she could not understand even the most basic truths of it. Nonetheless, in the midst of a time in her marriage so difficult that it was almost to the point of separation, and while some of the members of our church were fasting and praying for her, one Sunday while she listened to a sermon on the love of God being the foundation of our perseverance, she broke into weeping beneath the great weight of conviction of sin, and she was converted! God Himself saved her! The infinite dignity of God drew her in and she was captivated by Him. Today she is a different person, even to the point that it is still difficult for us to get used to the new life that is in her, but we are left in joy and wonder at the power of God.
Haley is a young american woman that arrived at our church fleeing from an extremely difficult and sinful life. It is not possible to hear her tell her story, one of sin and misery and of the love of God for her, without tears. Despite the fact that she is very young, she has suffered the equivalent of many lives. But, in the midst of personal tragedy that would be difficult to explain, when she was angry at God and His sovereignty, her sister reached her heart and preached the gospel to her. Haley now loves much because she knows that she has been forgiven much. It is common for me to see her after a sermon praying passionately and with tears. She is always willing to do anything for the Lord. As I heard her share her testimony, I could hardly bear the weight of the truth that God brought His daughter Haley to us from the other side of the world in order for us to care for her until she is finally presented to Him.