The Joy of Witnessing to Catholics

By: Mike Gendron; ©2002
Mike Gendron reports on a recent mission trip to heavily-Catholic Mexico. What joy he and his team experienced as they saw God at work during their time there. What an amazing demonstration of “grace to grace”!


The Joy of Witnessing to Catholics

There is no greater joy than seeing God reconciling the world to Himself and no greater privilege than to be used by Him as He accomplishes His purpose. Such was the experi­ence as 19 soul winning, Gospel proclaiming, church planters traveled to Acapulco, Mexico for eight earnest days of laboring in fields white for harvest. Working with the local Bethel Baptist Church we encouraged hundreds of Mexican people to forsake all efforts to save themselves and to trust Jesus Christ as their only hope of salvation. Many who made professions of faith had been baptized Roman Catholics. Their conversion involved repen­tance from their good works and self-righteousness and turning to Jesus is faith. Many of our team of 19 missionaries had never witnessed such an awesome display of God’s sovereignty, the penetrating power of His Word, and the sanctifying work of His Holy Spirit in a way that brought such joy to so many! All week long we praised God for His amazing grace. Following are some lasting impressions…

How God Accomplishes His Purpose

About a month before the trip, I was asked to train the members of the short-term mis­sions team to become effective witnesses to the predominately Roman Catholic population in Mexico. We gathered at a local Bible Church and I explained the Catholic plan of salva­tion to them and the Scriptures they could use to bring Catholics to repentance and faith in Jesus. I also warned the group not to ask Catholics to repeat a prayer for salvation. This is important for two reasons: 1) Catholics have been taught to repeat prayers as part of their indoctrination, and 2) the practice is not biblical and often produces a false hope of salva­tion when there is no conviction by the Holy Spirit.

After the session, the leader of the team said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if God would provide a way financially for Mike Gendron to go on the missions trip with us? Why don’t we pray about it?” Someone commented there’s not the much time, everything must be turned in within 6 days. The leader said, “Yes, but look what God accomplished in 6 days, He made the heavens and the earth.” After the prayer, a young woman, who was not going on the trip, but was invited by a friend to learn about witnessing to Catholics, asked the leader how much it would cost to send me. When the leader responded it would cost $985, the young woman said, “I can write a check for that amount. God has laid it on my heart that Mike needs to go with you.” There was complete silence in the room as everyone was in awe of what God had accomplished so quickly. What a mighty God we serve. We were worried about six days and it took only six minutes to stir the heart of one of His children.

How God Directed Our Steps

On Monday morning, our first day of door to door evangelism in a remote village of Acapulco, God directed our team to a lady who welcomed us into her home. She said she had tried Catholicism and then Mormonism but she still had a yearning desire to know God. Within 30 minutes of hearing how much God loved her and what Christ had accomplished for her, she wanted to know how she could receive Jesus as her Savior. The name of this precious soul, the very first woman to be saved on our trip, and the one who was most anxious to know God, was Graciela! Was this a coincidence… the name of the one who paid my way and the name of the first lady to trust Christ were identical? I believe it was the hand of God affirming His glorious sovereignty. One of the team members said it appears God is leading us from “grace to grace.” After Graciela called on the Lord Jesus to receive the gift of eternal life, she asked us to tell her 12-year-old daughter about Jesus. Within an hour Adriana was also calling out to receive Jesus for her salvation. The next day Graciela was handing out Gospel tracts and inviting friends to the Bible studies we held each evening in the village.

God’s Amazing Grace in the Midst of Extreme Poverty

One of the families from the local Baptist Church in the back hills of Acapulco, who hosted the evening neighborhood Bible studies, lived in a 3 room “open air” house with no plumbing and no fans. As I taught the afternoon Bible study, the intense 95-degree heat, which was magnified by the tin roof, caused me to perspire profusely. The environment, along with our constant battle with the flies, which were everywhere, made the conditions miserable. But God’s grace sustained us and helped us focus on the work He had pre­pared in advance for us to do. As poverty stricken as our host family was, we were made aware of a more severe case when a 75 pound mother of 6 came by after lunch to see if there were any scraps or leftovers that she could take home to feed her family.

A Unique Place for a Gospel Presentation

On Wednesday morning, I went to Christo Rey Catholic Church to share the Gospel with the parish priest. Since he was unavailable I engaged a young man by the name of Abby to sit with me in a pew in front of a 6-foot tall statue of the Virgin Mary. I placed on the floor eight cards, each of which represents different things Catholics trust for their salvation. I asked Abby to pick up the ones he believed were necessary to get to heaven. After he picked up six of the cards, I began sharing Scriptures with Abby, which showed him the errors of his faith. One by one he transferred his trust from things that could not save him to the only name under heaven by which he could be saved. I witnessed the power of God’s word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit as he repented from trusting in his devotion to Mary, baptism, obeying the commandments, good works and church membership as the means for his salvation. He then called upon Jesus Christ to save him from the power and punishment of his sins. Praise God that He saves people even in the midst of idolatry and apostasy.

A Blasphemous Image

Saturday afternoon I asked a bilingual friend to go with me to the Cathedral to see if we could engage the archbishop of Acapulco in a Gospel presentation. While we were in the Cathedral we observed not only the offensive statues and shrines of the Virgin Mary, but an incredible sight which caused us to swell with anger. There was a sealed glass coffin containing a life-sized statue depicting the body of Christ, lying on its back, in a white robe, its face stained with blood and a crown of thorns on its head. One of its hands was out­stretched and grasping several pesos (the paper currency of Mexico). In front of the coffin was an offering box for the congregation to give money in exchange for God’s mercy and grace. The sign on the box read in Spanish: “For the Holy Burial of Jesus.” As we stood there several women wiped their hands on the coffin, and then on their face. I began to grieve for the poor blind souls who are held captive by the blatant deception and blas­phemy of the Catholic Church. Is there no end to what Rome will indulge in to hold its people in spiritual darkness?

A Joyful Celebration

This short-term missions trip to Mexico culminated Friday evening in a joyful victory celebration at the church. All the new believers, the American team and members of the local church joined hearts in singing praises to the Lord of the Harvest for His amazing grace. It was a week I will never forget, nor will I ever forget the precious saints we left behind to carry on God’s work in a country overcome with intense spiritual darkness. My fervent prayer for these new believers is that the seeds we planted will grow strong roots in fertile soil, and begin to bear fruit of its own.

Whereas many para-church organizations are focused on making “decisions for Christ,” this short-term missions team was focused on obeying the Great Commission. “Go there­fore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mat. 28:19-20). The group was committed to work through the local evangelical church to make “disciples of Christ.” After we left, the local church continued to disciple the new believers through cell churches and neighbor­hood Bible studies.

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