I wanted to write up a post to share what God has been doing in Uruguay as well as what we as a Body can do to insure His work continues here.
I first moved to Uruguay in early November of 2013. I will give a small recap for the sake of clarity, but you can read my blog post entitled “My Journey to Uruguay” if you want to read a more detailed explanation.
Before I proceed, some of you may be asking, “Where in the world is Uruguay?!”
It’s okay; you’re not alone. I don’t know about your public school experience, but I sure wasn’t educated on South America much at all. (I didn’t even know exactly where it was on a map until last year, so definitely don’t feel bad!)
Uruguay is a small country of around 3 million mostly-European immigrants. It has more cows than people and is wedged in between Argentina and Brazil. It is mostly known for its grass fed beef (by law!), yerba mate, dulce de leche, and down to earth president Jose Mujica.
I’ve traveled to many countries around the world and I can say with utmost confidence that Uruguayos are the friendliest and most hospitable people I’ve ever encountered! (The Irish are #2 – just in case you’re wondering!)
Surprisingly, Uruguay is the most secular country in Latin America with a great majority of the population identifying themselves as atheist. (I have only met and befriended ONE Christian from Uruguay in the almost entire year I’ve lived here).
When praying about what country to do missions in, I knew as soon as I read those statistics that this is precisely the type of place that Christ would have me go.
Uruguay boasts many great things – the food, the culture, the people – but it is also suffering with a serious suicide epidemic. It’s highest among the western hemisphere and every day in this teeny tiny country, 50 precious souls attempt to take their life.
I can literally feel a spirit of suicide in the air at times. It’s thick. Sometimes when I am walking around downtown, I just want to wear a sign on my forehead that reads: CHRIST IS EVERYTHING YOU ARE LOOKING FOR.
The darkness of despair. The anxiety. The yearning. It’s all present in their eyes. I know what to look for, because I used to carry the same burden myself.
For the majority of my existence, I carried around the same weariness. If I wasn’t fighting against my enslaving case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I was battling drug addiction, habitual and dysfunctional relationships, violent rage, or deep depression.
I don’t say this to gloat in war stories, but to boast of what Christ has done in me! Through Him, I am truly a new creation and can confidently attest to the powerful reality of those who seek Him with a broken and contrite spirit.
Because of what He has given me, my past is only a memory and measuring stick of how much work He has wrought in my life in the last decade.
I surely don’t miss that never ending search for significance and control. That unsatisfying quest for a man to affirm and acknowledge me. The anxiety so severe that I couldn’t even keep food down at times.
I realize now that my attempt to make sense of my existence apart from the One that gave it to me was an endless exercise in futility.
It’s been almost ten years since I uttered my first open minded prayer, and I can say with absolute assurance and delight that God is real. Christ is Who He said He is. And the bible is the Word of God.
Not because someone told me this. Not because some church taught me. But because I have personally tasted and seen this reality for myself.
Contrary to popular belief, Christianity is not some Sunday school mind control matrix. True biblical Christianity is denial of self and following after the man called Christ – every day. It’s accepting His sacrificial death on our behalf and embracing the power of His resurrection – proof that we are more than brain and blood, but are intensely spiritual at our very core!
Once you get the faintest glimpse of this truth, you will know in the deepest recess of your heart that Christ is real and He is the One whom we seek.
If I can live in a place where the majority of the population hasn’t heard this truth – PRAISE GOD. I want to stay and share my story, for it is not mine to keep!
Fortunately for me, the people of Uruguay aren’t into small talk. They are extremely open and aren’t afraid to get real about their pain and problems. It’s not uncommon to hear someone mention a suicide attempt in casual conversation.
To be honest, almost every single person we have met has either tried to commit suicide or has a family member or close friend who has. We’ve met people who have endured the most drastic attempts – like throwing themselves in front of a moving train or jumping off of a high building. Seriously intense survival stories!
I want to be here to tell these people Who it was that kept them from succeeding – that there is a reason and a purpose for their existence. That God isn’t finished with them yet. That God LOVES Uruguayos and yearns to see them turn from rejection to reception.
His love, His peace, His truth is everything they need – and it is the only thing that can heal a population full of hurting hearts that want to quiet the pain so bad they are willing to stop them from beating altogether.
Right now, God is bringing together a community of believers that want to see God turn this dry but beautiful place into a country that knows His name for the first time.
He has heard our prayers and is sending my extremely anointed friend named Ivan to help us plant and establish an organic home church community in Montevideo. And he speaks much better Spanish too!
God is also doing beautiful things through our homeless ministry right now. They are not only receptive to His Word, but they continue to bring me gifts to show their appreciation for the home cooked meals we offer them daily. One friend cried when I gave him his first bowl of soup with a bible. Another came back the next day, kissed his bible, and announced with excitement that he had read the psalms the night before.
It is moments like this that touch my heart and keep me encouraged – even when the enemy continues to try and knock me out.
Many of you know that I am an unconventional missionary. I wasn’t sent by a particular organization to promote a denominational doctrine or a boxed in brand of Jesus.
I am here in Uruguay to share the simplicity of Christ’s love and His truth – without compromise.
Please, please, please pray for Uruguay!
I love you and thank you for all the love and support you guys continue to give me!
Love in Christ,