Prior to departure for Buenos Aires (BA), our International Mission Board missionaries, Mark and Melissa Hobson, told me that some of our translators for the week of our Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries mission trip to BA were nationals. A national is someone who is originally from Argentina.
The Monday evening we were in Buenos Aires we had a strategy meeting at the Hobson’s house. During this meeting they explained to our North Carolina team how we fit into their overall church planting strategy for their assigned area of BA. They told us that the nationals were very excited that we were in BA and that we would be meeting them throughout the week.
While we did meet several of the Christian nationals in BA during our week, and are forever indebted to them for their translation skills and their commitment to share the Gospel, perhaps the ones who influenced us the most were Ana*, her mother, Belen*, and daughter, Gabrielle*.
Ana lives in a villa. Tuesday morning when my prayerwalking team pulled up to her front door, she was already anxiously anticipating our arrival. In fact, she was so excited about our arrival she locked herself out of her house. The area where Ana lives is poverty-stricken. She is one of the very few believers in Jesus Christ who live in the area. She knows the Hobsons because she is a member of their house church.
Ana, unbeknownst to me in the entire planning process, was pivotal to our week. She had invited numerous women to the ladies’ tea we hosted and she joined us at the orphanage where we shared Christ with the children and then spent time coloring and playing with them. She had also spent weeks personally inviting people to the evangelistic block party we hosted.
Though BA has a population of almost 14 million people, I am convinced that Ana knows all of them.
I am also convinced that she has shared Christ faithfully and unashamedly with all of them.
Ana was the lady who found the location for the block party we hosted in her barrio. The Tuesday morning we arrived at her doorstep, she was leading us around the streets that she calls home so we could prayerwalk and hand out invitations to the block party. As we knocked on doors to personally invite people, she would prepare us before we arrived at the door: “This person is not a Christian. They don’t know Christ” or “I have shared Christ with this person and they are related to the family ten doors down to the left.”
It didn’t matter if we were on the street where her house was located, or if we were prayerwalking a street ten or twelve blocks away, she knew the spiritual condition of each of the house’s residents. Not because she is a nosy neighbor, but because she is a neighbor concerned about the salvation of the people who live around her.
Ana travelled wherever we went. She always met us at the locale. It wasn’t until the end of the week that I learned that she took the bus to meet us because she didn’t have a car.
However, she wasn’t willing to let the lack of a vehicle act as a deterrent to being a part of what God was doing.
One of the blessings of the week was getting to meet Ana’s mother, Belen, and daughter, Gabrielle. These three women – one family spanning three generations – are faithful believers in Jesus Christ. Before the evangelistic block party we held in their barrio Thursday evening, Belen fed us genuine Argentine food that she had cooked during the day for us. After we were filled on empanadas, chicken, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and peaches and cream, we prepared to begin setting up for our block party.
Our North Carolina team and the Argentines with whom we were working gathered for prayer. I led in prayer in my heart language, English, and our missionary, Mark Hobson, concluded our prayer time by leading us in prayer in Castilian. When we concluded, I raised my head to see a glimpse of Ana’s 20-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, with tears streaming down her checks. It is a sight that I will not soon forget.
As I told our team the next morning during our devotional time, we would soon return to North Carolina, where we would be surrounded by family members who knew Christ and return to a place where there are believers. However, for Ana, Belen, and Gabrielle, they live where being a Christian is not the norm and the task ahead of them is great. They are surrounded by lostness wherever they turn and the task to share the Gospel remains with them while we return home.
Despite this, they have more deeply embedded joy than any three people I have ever met and are faithful to do whatever is necessary to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I will forever carry in my office reminders of Ana, Belen, and Gabrielle, not just because they are in my heart and my photos, but because their kindness was expressed in Argentine mementos: ceramic fish and the traditional yerba mate drink of the Argentine people.
*Names changed for security reasons.