Hearts as wide as the Pampa Argentina’s
Once again it was a last minute thing. After a talk 150km south of Sydney I rush back under time pressure and over full motorways to the metropolis of five million. The Peruvian Ronny Marin is picking me up at 5:30 p.m. from the Welch’s.
We finally leave just after six o’clock and the sat-nav tells us that it is 40km journey to our destination. During the next 70 minutes we will pass through merciless traffic jams getting closer and closer to the suburb of Parramatta. The chance of a punctual arrival at the “South American Church” is zero. “Don’t stress, Dr John,” Ronny, sitting next to me, reassures me, “I have WhatsApped Pastor Bruno Meister, he knows that we are running late!” What a comfort!
Around 60 Latinos hailing from Peru, Argentina, Columbia, Uruguay, Nicaragua and Brazil have come together and the background noise is loud. Everyone is delighted that we have arrived and we start immediately.
For 90 minutes I tell my listeners who definitely do not belong to Sydney’s upper class what, trusting in God, has happened in Peru. Everyone is fully with it and rejoice with me as soon as I show them my Peruvian passport! I am one of them.
I had assured Argentinian Pastor Bruno Meister that I was not on a money raising trip, but on a trip as an ambassador of faith: “God will take care of the finances!” “Yes Dr John,” answered the Argentinian, “but we want to help and will take up a collection!” The presentation is over and no eye has remained dry. Pastor Meister is as moved as everyone in the room. “If anyone wants to give a donation, feel free to do so. Please do not feel any compulsion.” he says short and to the point. I am content. No tear-pressure, no burning call for financial support. The Latinos sitting there have enough to do getting by financially in expensive Sydney. The last amen has been said and I shake hands and have many selfies taken of me with members of the audience. 30 books are sold that evening. People from many countries embrace me and wish me God’s blessing for the future.
Somebody calls “1,360.60 Australian dollars” into the microphone. I am overwhelmed. Including the 300 dollars that are lying in the book basket each of the 60 visitors gave an average of 28 dollars. The private budget of the Latinos is not great, but this evening their hearts are wide. On the presentation slides they have seen God in action and they want to support generously.
“Why are you a Christian?”, I ask a 60-year old man standing next to me. The Latin-American beams at me: “Do you really want to hear my story?” He dives into his life-story: a career as a heroin-addict and drug-smuggler, stations on the way to the abyss. He describes the downward spiral that countless thousands in South America’s big cities go through. “But then I met Christians and God healed me. That was 20 years ago!” I wished I had more time to write down what he told me on our website.
Everyone in the church hall could tell swathes out of his/her life. One story more exciting than the other. But I must press on. I start the car. Highlights from a Latino congregation where God is just as at work just as he is in Peru or Germany, or should I say worldwide!/KDJ