Hitting Pay-Dirt: Gold in South America
by Dr. Waylon B. Moore
Reaching business professionals with the Gospel is a tough assignment in any
country. And Venezuela, where I was privileged to teach recently, is no
exception! Spanish explorers landed here in the early 1500's hoping to find
gold. Their Catholic priests wanted to Christianize the population.
The first large wooden cross that touched shore with the Conquistadors can be
found on display, along with 400-year-old family homes that have lasted through
wars and pirate invasions.
Flying into busy Caracas airport, I caught a flight to Coro, a desert-like city
with sand dunes on the north coast. My host was a former lawyer, missionary
Mike Bennett. Mike and his wife
Jan, along with three other IMB couples in the nation, target business
professionals these nation-shapers are the new gold to be
mined, won and mentored in this land. Business professionals are a
neglected people group. People group is the term that the Baptist
International Mission Board and other mission agencies use to designate
population segments that will go unreached unless they benefit from creative
During the 10 days I was in Venezuela I traveled through three cities. I saw
some successful methods working so that dozens of families are beginning to
respond to Christ as Savior and Lord. For instance, Dr. Harold Finch, an
inventor and millionaire from Kansas City and a former NASA engineer, has been
in Venezuela training businessmen with conferences. God is using him in a
link-up with our IMB staff to teach thousands through his week-long courses.
They cover topics such as principles of business success, financial management,
leadership training, and then the Bible as a source for wisdom and family
The first two days, I taught mentoring concepts in a rented restaurant. Our
colorful, Mentoring Workshop PowerPoint presentation, designed by Missions
Unlimited Board member Larry Chadwell, grabbed hearts in its Spanish
translation. Sometimes when I spoke too fast, Aurora, my interpreter and a
businesswoman, would pinch my back: Slow down! The business people
there were so hungry and responsive. Some were new Christians. Later the
electricity stopped, because of a downpour. (Rain is so rare there that
sometimes people refuse to walk in the rain to work!) But I kept speaking until
we had lights and air conditioning again. They were so affirming with
clapping, laughter, and many gracious words.
Sam and Lisa Paris
(kids: Samuel and Andrea) formerly ministered in California, to a mixed
congregation of new believers and older members, before God called them here.
Sam arrived in his pickup truck to take me to Barquisimeto. He filled our
travel time with wonderful stories of winning men to Christ. We drove through a
lush valley. Surrounding us were low mountains and villages as we drove.
Farther south in Venezuela one can visit Angel Falls, the tallest waterfalls in
the world. Mountains at 16,000 feet are being carved out by an ice glacier that
The next morning I did some prayer walking from my hotel through the city's
crowded streets. I had learned some interesting facts about Venezuelan
lifestyle and politics. First, 40% of the employed people also have an
entrepreneurial business, such as selling things along the streets. There one
may barter for shirts, fruit, gum, and toys, spread out on cardboard in front
of closed stores. Venezuela women are the No. 1 buyers of cosmetics in the
world! They are very well-groomed and elegant in their dress.
The new President of Venezuela is an astute, winsome political talker, and a
Communist. He considers Castro his hero. This President is educating the people
with multi-hour speeches on all radio stations at night (I found no music) and
during the prime time on TV. The government sells oil to America, and uses it
as a political chess piece with Latin American nations. The President appoints
all the governors of the states, and every important official. Over 300,000
Venezuelan leaders and families have fled to Miami, or have pre-applied for
American visitors cards.
In that dominant Catholic culture, witnessing is very difficult if they think
you are an evangelical. So, Baptists say we are
Baptists and the door is open to share Christ. I met our Bibles, books
and literature missionaries,
Leon and Jean Champion, living in Valencia. They minister from our largest
Christian book depository in Latin America.
On this whirlwind schedule I tried to share as many goodies in the
field of mentoring as Lisa Paris could keep up with in her interpreting.
Speaking at the First Baptist Church, I shared the following key messages:
The people were with me the whole time, and I felt that the
pastors attending were especially encouraged.
Portrait of a Mentor (see
2 Timothy 2:1-4)
Recapturing Jesus' Private Ministry
Eight Kinds of Mentors
Five Steps as One Mentors
The Change-Your-Life Habit
Eating God's Word
How to Mentor Your Family
To get to the islands meant a long flight back to Caracas, then taking a plane
loaded with families on holiday.
Perry and Brenda Walker
fit in great here, having grown up in Argentina as MK's (missionary kids).
What a caring bunch they are with three friendly kids. We ate marvelous
fresh bread sandwiches for lunch, with mango slices, and then Spanish
Flan for dessert.
Perry is the Strategy Coordinator for both the Professional Marketplace Team,
and University Evangelism Team. Perry has known Brenda since he was 12. Years
later they met up again in the States. He was a single pastor in Oklahoma,
taking seminary extension classes. He said, We met almost by accident and
zing. . . . We married 10 weeks later!
On Margarita Island live about 300,000 inhabitants plus tourists much of the
year. When a fresh water pipe was first laid from Venezuela across the ocean
floor, the islands held only 40,000 people. There is now a water shortage; it
runs only a few hours a week. Many homes quickly pipe water into their storage
tanks on the roof. Water trucks drive up and down streets, and all others get
in line with buckets.
Bob and Anita Moore
also minister on the island Team. Bob is the computer guru. He has a real
heart to help some terribly neglected, government prisoners. Without medical
or dental help, they find themselves locked up for years, live or die. Bob
had recently attended the funeral service of a foreign prisoner who died
tragically. He was one of the first that Bob was able to lead to Christ
there, and he was baptized in a special footlocker! About 15 prayed with
him to receive Christ. Most of the men who attended the Bible studies were
men whom the now deceased prisoner had brought. Bob called the man's wife in
Canada, and assured her that he was in heaven.
I was thrilled to discover that they use our Gospel of John lessons (similar to
) with great success in initial Bible study groups! Some years back
Dr. Wade Akins, with the International Mission Board, asked Missions Unlimited
to edit our
series specifically for a Catholic audience. In this culture the Team found
they are getting solid commitments to Christ using just the first four of the
seven lessons we wrote.
Perry has developed a new series of one-page lessons each on 40 key topics,
including a daily devotional guide. They are carefully leading those men and
families who receive Christ from the pointed steeple church concept
to a family house cell-church model. While doing one of the series
on the church, the group members began saying out loud to each other with
surprise, Say, we are a church now! And Perry smiled with joy.
The last night I taught 45 people in a little church in a strip mall. We turned
chairs sideways so I had people on all sides. Many attending were new
believers. Perry started everything off playing a great guitar in duet with a
new 21-year-old volunteer from the South who will work with students in
evangelism and discipleship. Knowing my wife Clemmie was having surgery soon,
the group circled my chair and prayed for 10 minutes.
The Professional Team is praying and planning for a large crusade
in Caracas this next year. They expect over 3,000 men to register for the
Success Courses taught by Dr. Finch and others.
Note: Both Perry Walker and Mike Bennett will be at the Missions Conference
(October) in Tampa Bay at Bell Shoals Baptist Church. If you speak Spanish as a
Business man, come and talk with them! Our four missionary couples are praising
God for His gold being mined in hearts all over Venezuela.
Pray for the five families, the new believers, the hundreds of business
personnel who have heard the gospel, and the President of Venezuela.