Presbyterian and Reformed Texas

"You're not a Baptist, you're a Presbyterian!" with Victor Martinez

March 19, 2024 Victor Martinez Season 1 Episode 15
"You're not a Baptist, you're a Presbyterian!" with Victor Martinez
Presbyterian and Reformed Texas
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Presbyterian and Reformed Texas
"You're not a Baptist, you're a Presbyterian!" with Victor Martinez
Mar 19, 2024 Season 1 Episode 15
Victor Martinez

Teaching Elder Victor Martinez serves as Redeemer San Antonio’s (PCA) Associate Pastor of Mission & Cultural Engagement.

He joins us to today to speak about missions,  mercy ministry, and the upcoming Restore 2024: MNA Mercy Conference. We pray that you consider attending the conference.


MNA Restore 2024 Conference
A Vision for Kingdom-Centered Mercy Ministry
April 12–13, 2024
Northwest Community Center
Dallas, TX

- Irwin Ince
- Brian Fikkert
- Victor Martinez



Like and subscribe, rate and review, and spread the word far and wide.

Reformed Texas (@reformedtexas) on Twitter/X
Eric Wallace (@ecrosstexas) on Twitter/X
Eric's site

Soli Deo Gloria

Show Notes Transcript

Teaching Elder Victor Martinez serves as Redeemer San Antonio’s (PCA) Associate Pastor of Mission & Cultural Engagement.

He joins us to today to speak about missions,  mercy ministry, and the upcoming Restore 2024: MNA Mercy Conference. We pray that you consider attending the conference.


MNA Restore 2024 Conference
A Vision for Kingdom-Centered Mercy Ministry
April 12–13, 2024
Northwest Community Center
Dallas, TX

- Irwin Ince
- Brian Fikkert
- Victor Martinez



Like and subscribe, rate and review, and spread the word far and wide.

Reformed Texas (@reformedtexas) on Twitter/X
Eric Wallace (@ecrosstexas) on Twitter/X
Eric's site

Soli Deo Gloria

[0:30] We are joined today by Victor Martinez.
Victor is the Associate Pastor of Mission and Cultural Engagement at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas. Victor, welcome.
Yes, thank you. Happy to be here. We are glad you're here with us.
You are the first of the, hopefully, many guests to come from Redeemer San Antonio.
You guys have a great history there. and I'd love to talk to more staff and elders ruling and teaching there and get to know you brothers well.
But tell us a little bit about yourself, if you would. Yes.

[1:15] Yeah, I'm originally from Puerto Rico and grew up actually in the Presbyterian church over there, USA.
I say that particular church was most definitely more of a liberal church, and it actually was quite involved in political and social issues that at the time were interesting, but later in life,not what our souls need as much.
So, I literally, that being my childhood church, I came to the States in 84 to go to school.
And my plan was to attend Mississippi State.
And I did not pass the TOEFL nor the English exam. So, I ended up in a small junior college.
Okay. I hope I've gotten better since then. But, yeah, and so by the Lord's grace, I met some really godly people that, for the first time ever, shared with me the gospel of Christ.
And I responded to that. The Lord really, really broke my heart and used the love of some really, really sweet people.

[2:34] And in Mississippi, being in Mississippi, there were all kinds of people there.
So there were some challenges, but by far, God's grace and mercy was really evident through his own people.
And a lot of people...

[2:52] Saw an opportunity to share the gospel, not only with me, but through me.
There were a lot of international students, and not many were actively being a disciple or giving a witness of the gospel.
So I was just cared for and loved very much.
And from there, that was with Southern Baptists. And so from there, I went to seminary in Fort Worth at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where I met my wife, future wife,and did church planting there, inner city Dallas, some really rough background stuff, but also, again, a great school to learn the gospel.
And after almost eight years there, we went to Puerto Rico and still with Southern Baptist and planted a church there as well.

[3:47] Also a unique urban context and stayed there five, six years.
And from there, we received a call by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention to be a catalytic missionary in New England.
And so at that time, I was traveling quite a bit. That's a little bit of a change.
Yeah, like Puerto Rico, Mississippi, Texas, Puerto Rico. Hey, now we're going to New England, huh?
Yeah, we went from complaining about hot to complaining about being too cold.
Right. It was quite amazing.

[4:22] So, yeah, we did work there, teaching in seminary, also training church planners.
And I was coordinating ethnic missions for the convention there at that time.
And that was also a lot of good school, a lot of learning, good brothers and sisters.
And from there, I came to San Antonio to teach.
I thought I was called to be a full-time professor at Baptist University of the Americas here.
Okay. I was there seven years.

[4:52] And after that is when the Lord opened the doors in the PCA.
So that's a quick trajectory of what it looked like.
Very good. So, yeah. So tell us a little bit more, man. How did the Lord lead you?
I mean, you had all this experience in the Southern Baptist Convention.
You went to one of their flagship seminaries.
You were on the North American Mission Board. You were doing church planning.
You find yourself in San Antonio. How do you become a member of the PCA?
Well, it's a great question. By the time I was in San Antonio, I was teaching theology and other biblical courses.
I started really for the first time in a more significant way reading some of the Reformed scholars and Presbyterian background.
I mean, and I started implementing some of those things in my book.
By then I consider myself a reformed Baptist, although it really, what that really meant was just I was a Calvinist. Okay.
So, but we, I used in some of my courses, O. Palmer Robertson's Christ of the Covenants.
Boy, it started right there.

[6:10] And so teaching that, I actually learned a lot and started kind of reexamining my positions and realizing learning that reform meant more.
And it meant ecclesiology, it meant missions and worship and all of that.
So in teaching, I really became a student.
And I remember there was a student in the seminary from Cuba at the Baptist University of America, the college there.
And San Antonio here, and I remember talking with her, and she made a couple of comments where you said, well, you're not a Baptist, you're a Presbyterian, you need to know that.
And she was from a Presbyterian background. So when I heard that, that kind of, you know, shook me a little bit. Right.
And I didn't at the same time. And so I really then began a trajectory of looking at the, you know, baptism and all all of those things, and looking back at my ministry as a Baptist pastorfor a long time.

[7:13] You know, it was actually a good, good, good thing.
And at that time, while all that is happening, I remember we, my family and I took a vacation to Denver, to Colorado, and there we, the first time ever I visited a PCA church there.
Rocky Mountain Presbyterian at the time was pastor of Tyler Rick.
And again i mean i was probably the only hispanic they had seen in a long time so you know they came say hi to me after church and pastor Tyler Rick introduced himself and when heheard San Antonio and that i was kind of interested in the PCA well he he told me about Redeemer Presbyterian in San Antonio because his son who was in the air force was uh attendinghere okay so yeah and so we We came back to San Antonio, and I was actually an interim pastor at a church as well.

[8:09] But any time I got a Sunday free, I told my wife and my kids, I just want to go visit this PCA church here.
And I have to tell you that the first time I showed up at Redeemer, I mean, it was quite almost like an existential thing.
Because, I mean, I remember being in tears during the worship, hearing the gospel, hearing worship expressed in a way that just touched my heart.
I have to admit, I think I had my wife a little worried, you know, at that time.
She said, you're not quite in your 50s yet to be having this kind of crisis.

[8:47] But the neatest thing was that something was connecting.
And this was the first time I was seeing worship and seeing things coming out of a real reformed way. And that was something I had not tasted, but I had been yearning for.
And so that was quite amazing. And then, of course, when I met Tom Gibbs, the planter and pastor of Redeemer, it literally felt like we had been looking for each other.
And later, I learned that that was the case.
And I connected really quickly with Tom. And immediately, we started sharing our hearts and our vision. And it became evident that we should explore about me maybe being part ofRedeemer in some way.

[9:39] So, you know, I did. And one of the things that I learned later was that Tom would drive South San Antonio by BUA, the university there, and would pray for the Lord to send aHispanic professor or someone to come and lead missions at Redeemer.
And it was fascinating because from the very beginning, it felt to me like the Lord really was truly at work and our hearts were being drawn and changed and impacted.
And so that was just a really, really powerful thing.
And so very, very helpful. And one of the neat things was, of course, that Tom immediately, once we started kind of heading in that direction of maybe partnering together in ministry, hetold me that, you know, we've been praying for a Hispanic person to come, but you're not going to lead Hispanic ministry.
We want a person like you to lead missions for all of Redeemer.

[10:47] And the fact that you have a different background will help and will do its unique things.
But he really challenged me and saw me as someone that could lead Redeemer like that.
And that Hispanic work would happen and it would come in its own time and its own way.
Uh so that that was actually really big challenge to me because to be honest i had not, preaching english all that much it was always in spanish so but anyway that's how i came toredeemer um and uh it's it's i've been there already going 16 17 years so it's amazing wow so you were at uh you're redeemer in its first 10 years then obviously and yeah because you guysare what, like 25 years old or so?
Something like that? Yeah, more like 23, but yeah, around there.

[11:41] Very good. And I know Tom Gibbs...
Took the call to be president of Covenant Seminary, what, in 2021, I think that was? Yes.
And your current pastor, Paul Hahn, came in.
And you all have somewhat of a unique arrangement with your pastor there, there with with paul and Matt Beham being uh i guess matt is actually let's just co-pastor right yeah yeah it'sfascinating because they they uh everybody the whole church uh wanted to keep mad because of his preaching and his giftedness but he's fairly young in in the ministry um even thoughhe's so gifted and so and he was fascinating because after an initial interview with with Paul, Paul himself kind of withdrew his name and said, you know, I'm kind of more at the end ofmy year, so maybe this is not a good fit.

[12:46] And the pulpit committee praying and speaking decided like, well, what about if we bring, instead of one senior pastor, we bring a lead pastor and a co-lead pastor?
So that way, Paul is in a good place to where he's mentoring, helping Matt, And that way we also had Matt doing his ministry with us.
So it was just a neat thing how it worked out.
Yeah, and we share a commonality in that because we, different circumstances, but we find ourselves at Trinity Plano with co-pastors as well.
We had a situation, pastor resignation. nation and, uh, Jeff Morrow was at that point.

[13:36] Two years, um, as an assistant and, um, Jake Yohannan, who was ordained in North Texas, uh, had served at Trinity, then was doing church planting, uh, in New York, in New Yorkwith Tim Keller and, and Redeemer, uh, Manhattan up there.
Um, he, um, and his family had moved back to town, but he was still, uh, going back to the New York area and, um, working with the churches he was helping plant up there.
And it was a unique situation where it was like, well, again, we, we have a, we have a gifted man who's young in the ministry of somebody who's been at this church before somebodyloves his church.

[14:27] And, you know, it's like, it's a unique situation. And, and, you know, we're now, well, that was 2018.
So we're six years. Yeah. Almost six years into this.
And, you know, you know, there's been some refining of roles and everything, but I think as a whole, it's, it's worked out very good for us.
And, uh, I'm sure, um, um, you know, that you guys have a similar experience.
I would hope you guys have a similar experience that it's worked out well. And yes.
Yeah. Obviously, we know nothing is forever, and the Lord will certainly have plans for His churches in the future.
But for now, for us, it works, and I pray that it does for you as well.
Yeah, I think it's actually a neat model.
I certainly could see where it may not work everywhere.

[15:20] You really need unique and really humble leadership with a heart of service.
But at the same time, I think it's a great way to prepare younger pastors, and I love to see that working as well in other places, yes.
Very good. So how big is Redeemer?
I know you have two services, so you're obviously bigger than we are.
We're 250 or so members and comfortably fit in one service, but what does Redeemer look like?
Yeah, so we have, I think membership is kind of 850, maybe approaching 900.

[16:05] And attendance, yeah, I would say about 800. I don't think it quite gets to nine yet.
And in attendance, I think in any given Sunday, with both services, we may get 500 or somewhere around that.
A little more than that, yeah. And you, Redeemer, is just off the river walk there in San Antonio.
So you are an urban church.

[16:31] Yes, by intention, by desire.
A lot of churches in San Antonio, I mean, for a long time, going back years, as has happened in many cities, the city is spreading out, growing away from downtown or the centers ofculture there.
And so San Antonio is actually quite wide. It just goes out.
But right around that time, providentially, nobody knew, but the downtown area and the real estate in the urban core was four or five years from exploding.
Nobody knew that at the time. I mean, we, we found this right, right about 35, um, right there inside of downtown.
We found an old, uh, YMCA building that had been abandoned for several years.
And so, I mean, the, the, the price we pay for that, it was just, uh, a gift compared to what that would be today.
So people sometimes would ask us, you know, how did you figure all that out?
And we were like, we didn't, we were just.
Fortunate by the Lord's grace. And that is true. I mean, urban dwelling has just exploded all around us.
And it's been amazing how the reversal of how the city is now growing and where it's going.
So it's really exciting. Very cool.

[17:59] Very cool. So the church, as I said, you guys have two morning services. Was it 9, 15, and 11?
Pretty typical times. Are they identical services?
Yes, they are. Okay. Yeah. Very cool.

[18:14] How often do you get to preach, being the third man on the total board?
Yeah. Yeah, I'm actually preaching a lot less at Redeemer now.
And some of that has been due to health reasons.

[18:31] But outside of Redeemer, I continue being pretty, pretty busy preaching.
And I go to Monterey or Mexico a couple of times a year, three times a year, actually.
And I enjoy a lot preaching in Spanish and training church planners.
And that's one of the neat things about being here is that with my calling and the blessing of the church, I was encouraged to look to the South and build partnerships and help in training,just be learning about how the Lord's working and so forth.
And with the demographics, the way they are and the way history has been going here, turned out that that was really strategic.
And so we really have a really neat, neat relationships, partnerships.
And right now, one of the interesting things, I think this is worth mentioning, was that, like I said earlier, Tom said he was very, very focused on that.
He said, people may, they're going to, at the beginning, see you as the guy that's going to lead Hispanic ministries.
But we want to try to see if you actually lead the whole church in missions.

[19:51] And out of that, yeah, different kinds of ministry come.
And I mean, that was a challenge even for me, you know, just to, I was like overwhelmed by that or like, can I even do it? But it was actually a great decision.
And in fact, we decided that we were not going to immediately launch into creating a Spanish-speaking ministry or focusing that way.
Because really, when you look at the demographics of San Antonio, I mean, it's like 65, 66% Hispanic.
So Hispanic is the majority.
And so it's a culture that is actually pretty well integrated for the most part.
I still think there is some city segregation as it is in many, many, many cities throughout the country.
But San Antonio is a place where Hispanics just see themselves as part of the culture and the society here.

[20:52] And there are a lot more English-speaking Hispanics than there are Spanish-speaking, although there's a lot of those as well.
But the idea was, let's first grow diverse and multi-ethnic before we start trying to do Spanish-specific things.
Right. I think that was brilliant, and that was just wisdom from the Lord.
And so in the last two, three years, we made a partnership with City to City, and we created a program here called Latin American Pastor Fellow.
That was the first time that we had any title, any ministry intentionally focusing on Hispanic.
And as this brother came, he's a Spanish-speaking church planner, very gifted.
He came from Monterey, where he had planted a church there.
And so the idea is this two-year program would allow some cross-pollinization and us learning and connecting with Mexico.
But also the other way around, city to city, thought that we could kind of teach and also encourage certain things of ministry to their guys.
But what ended up happening is that this brother began, he was a Spanish speaker primarily.
So we said, okay, preaching Spanish, sharing Spanish.

[22:12] Evangelized disciple and we already had a few that were mostly spanish speakers and so in the last basically in the last three years that he's been here he's ended up uh he's gonnastay now and we just called him we're gonna we're just about to call him as a director of spanish uh speaking ministries okay yeah he's we're looking for him to you know transfer hiscredentials and and so So that Spanish-speaking part of Redeemer is just growing rapidly and quickly. Very cool.
One thing that I probably should mention or ask you about is your involvement with the Hispanic Leadership Initiative.
Tell us about that, if you would. Sure.
Yeah, so, I mean, going back, I think it's been like 11, maybe 12 years.

[23:07] You know, at that time, Josh Geiger, Manuel Padilla, who's, Josh Geiger, of course, is in Dallas, and Christo Rey at that time.
And then Manuel Padilla was a Hispanic pastor in El Paso, Las Tierras, and over there.
So, we had a couple of other guys. We just noticed that there was no pipeline for Hispanic future leaders to be trained or be brought, mentored, discipled.
In fact, you could hardly find them.
And so, I mean, when I came into the BCA, I mean, I think there were maybe 12, 13 ordained teaching elders, Hispanic.
There wasn't that many. But we felt like we needed to do something more.
So we kind of joined forces and got together, and we had the support of the time of the Southwest Church Funding Network there.

[24:07] And so we launched Hispanic Leadership Initiative as a way to encourage the churches to look to Hispanics, to evangelize, but also to disciple.
And then we would help the churches with that, with ideas and prayer.
But then also we ourselves would be about recruiting and who are the future potential leaders that we see already.
And the challenge of the PCA is that we're just so behind the ball at that time.
And even though we've made great, great strides forward, we're still a little behind. but basically created...

[24:50] A way to call potential leaders that were identified at the churches in the area going all the way to even parts of New Mexico.
And so we began these retreats and these conferences, and we were getting 100 people coming.
Of course, a lot of those were Anglo guests that we wanted there because, you know, it needs to be open up to everybody and anybody to help.
Help uh it's it's it's intention is hispanic focus but we we think that it's going to take all of god's people regardless of ethnicity so so yeah that that that has become a very just useful andsomething the lord has really used very good yeah i know uh, Jahziel Cantu yes uh here in dallas and he's a good man and i know his involvement there with you and that and so awesomewell one of the other things you're involved in is uh the work of mna are the mission to north america and mna is hosting a mercy conference that is coming up in april the 12th and 13th indallas and it's an event called restore 2024 2024, MNA describes it as.

[26:14] The conference will recast a vision for kingdom-centered mercy ministry and equip deacons, ministry leaders, and laypeople to enter the restorative work of mercy.

[26:26] Would you like to talk about that and what...
How did this come about? Do you know the background story of this?
Yeah, a little bit. I mean, the first one to talk to me about it was Robbie Mills.
Okay. And so he mentioned that they had Brian Fikkert and also Irwin Ince.
Right. Yes. And they said, we'd love for you to be kind of the third guy that would come here and help us and speak from the, you know, none of us are experts.
But we have experience and we've done things the wrong way plenty of times enough to be able to help some.
So, yeah. And so I think it's very exciting because I mean, Irwin, myself, and Fikkert there, I think you're going to get guys that not only have experience, but to have a really richunderstanding of not only the church, but the kingdom and how that works, how that happens.
And I think that we, as in the PCA and other Reformed Presbyterian traditions, we have a rich, rich theological tradition and understanding of the kingdom and ecclesiology.

[27:39] And my goodness, that is what a heritage and what a blessing.
But I think we have been challenged for different reasons with what does that look like in terms of God's kingdom. them.
And I think personally, the way I began to understand all of that was helpful because having finally gotten a hold of that rich tradition when I did, that really gave me that theologicalvision and foundation that you need.
And one of the things Tom would always say to us us was that the doctrines, our doctrines are crucial, they're important, but we always have to understand them as fuel to drive ministry.
And so that knowing the theology becomes crucial.

[28:32] But that in itself is not exactly the ministry, but it's tightly attached to ministry because it's the fuel, the fuel of ministry.
And so that type of thinking really immediately put us in a place where we had to ask ourselves, what does that look like in San Antonio doing mercy ministry, the kingdom, how we'repartnering with, how we're building partnerships in the city and the different directions that that can take.
And so I think that's, in essence, what the conference is trying to do.
And, I mean, I think with Fikir and Erwin, you know, we're going to have definitely plenty of experience.
And so I'm excited about that. Yeah. So for anyone who doesn't know those names, Irwin Ince, a longtime PCA teaching elder, former moderator at General Assembly.
He is currently serving as the MNA coordinator, the head of that work in the PCA, and Dr.
Brian Fikkert, professor at Covenant College, co-author of When Helping Hurts.

[29:44] So you definitely have some men with some skins on the wall alongside of you.
It sounds like a great conference for anyone who is interested and involved in mercy work, but obviously it's not just deacons that are called to mercy work. Absolutely.

[30:11] I think that when you talk about mercy ministry, we all have an idea of what that means.
You know, we think of poverty alleviation or how do we help, you know, people that come to us looking for assistance.
And it is, in a way, it's very, very complicated to say that we want to help people out of poverty or we want to find them at the time when they need mercy.
It actually, it's a really super challenging thing. And we have seen how it's not easy to help, to really ask that question to help.
And so I think that's why these conferences are so, so important, whether, you know, whoever the speaker is, you know, these are really challenging things that on one side, they're ineverybody's mind in the church.
What do we do with this? But at the same time, we feel that burden.
We also feel some, we get intimidated by the call.
And what does it mean? What does that look like?

[31:21] And I think our reaction at the beginning sometimes, to use the language of Fikkert, is we focus on relief.
We'll go on relief in a way that is just to help somebody in the immediate moment, but to really get them into a road where they might flourish because of the gospel.
And it's just going to take a lot more than that. Right. Yeah, and I know that aspect of bringing the gospel to someone in the midst of helping, that's the key.
And I think that's unfortunate where we've seen the church broadly in the United States so often go down rabbit trails and wind up in the liberal ditch.
Right they just become all about doing things for others yes and lose sight of why we're doing things and and actually delivering the message of good news that you know we care moreabout your soul than we do about your current economic situation and while your economic situation situation's important. It's not the ultimate.

[32:37] Right. Yeah, that's exactly right.
I mean, ultimately, the gospel, it has to be and remain in the center because this is the only thing that will allow a person to flourish.
Because from death to sin, to alive in Christ, all of a sudden, And now you have a person that can be restored.
Now, reconciliation is real and all those things.
Yeah, if we were to do this outside of the gospel as a saving message with a priority, we really would not be investing in eternal things. I agree with that, yes.

[33:21] Yeah and you uh just circling back on uh the work of redeemer y'all have a conference actually coming up this coming weekend uh here which as we record would be, the us at the23rd and fours this this coming weekend yeah where where you and Dr. Fikkert are are going through a related conference to bringing the hope of the gospel to the needs of the cityconference called the news, a new story.
And obviously I think the messages sound like they, they certainly overlap and probably a good, good preparation for the MNA event, but either way, way, the message is important.

[34:15] If you would, when someone hears, you know, we got to bring the hope of the gospel to the needs of the city, how do you take the city, a city the size of San Antonio, two millionpeople, and say, oh my gosh, you know, I'm a congregant redeemer.
I see that title, And I'm like, oh, my gosh, the burden I feel, the things I must go do, you know, help me break that down to what does that mean for me in my life, right?
Am I supposed to go out and try to solve everyone in, you know, my neighborhood in Castle Hills' issue?

[35:03] Yeah, that's a great question. and one that I think a lot of people ask and struggle with.
And part of the reason is because we as pastors and leaders haven't always known really how to lead through that well.
But I think that's the great advantage of some of the work that the Shalmer Center has done and figured in others.
I mean, some of the things that we kind of go in assuming or making sure that we don't assume, but rather know them, is that we're not going to save anyone in the sense of fixing things orfixing challenges.
One of the things I like to always point to is right at the time of Christ's ascension after the resurrection, right?
You really clearly see this great confusion in the mind of the disciples because they don't get why he's leaving.
They're like, where are you going? And they ask, when are you to restore the kingdom?

[36:10] So immediately, I mean, you have this situation where there was not the same understanding of what the work was going to look, and here he is leaving.
And of course, he tells them, now before you do anything, don't do anything.
Until you go to Jerusalem and receive the Holy Spirit and power.
So clearly, that was one of the things. It's almost like outside of the Spirit, you will only be dangerous to yourself and others. So wait.

[36:41] But when the world kingdom is mentioned, there's also clearly a confusion there, a misunderstanding.
And the angel kind of makes it even more dramatic. He says, why are you looking up? Don't look.
And so you can tell there that how Christ was going to work in the kingdom was very different as they saw it.
And, of course, we know that they saw it more of a political, social, civil thing of to end oppression, to end power that oppresses.
Right. All those things, and even though that sounds great, it's almost crazy to think that Christ left and ascended to heaven without fixing the world, without completely...
Fixing all these problems. So from that, one of the things we always remind ourselves is we're not going to save anybody.
We're not going to end the world. We're not going to obliterate oppression and injustice, all these things.
Although they're important and we use that language and they're part of our ministry, we go in very much aware that there is a restoration that's coming, but that will be brought about byChrist himself.
And so that kind of gives us space and I think a little freedom to know that what we're called to is to speak the gospel.

[38:07] And when it comes to mercy ministries, it means that hope cannot just be a future hope.
For hope to be hope, it has to be hope today. day.
So we don't come with the pressure of lifting the whole city or changing everything in a radical way, but rather to share the gospel and to feel the pain with people right where they are.
So mercy ministry then, it's not a key to fix something, but it's a key to that ask, I mean, I would say it asks the right questions about what are the needs of people?
What are they why are they hurting why can they not live themselves out of this uh challenge and and this mystery of life as as they experience it when you when you think of gangs andincest poverty and so one of the things that vicar says in this book becoming whole which is his other book that came after when helping her he focuses on what is what is the story ofchange That's where the word story comes in.
And one of the things that he says there is that everybody, whether you're a pastor, a deacon, or a prostitute, or a drug dealer.

[39:29] A cartel member, you have a story of change that you're telling yourself and that you're acting in life with the hope that it's going to lift you up or get you to go forward.
And so basically what we do in Mercy Ministry is to challenge that story of change that people have.
And sometimes it means to point to, this is why you're in a hole of misery right now that feels overwhelming.

[39:59] And frankly, by themselves, they would never be able to get out of it. It's so heavy, so much.
But by tweaking and challenging that and asking what is the only story that can change you, and even though that change happens in the soul when you open your heart to Christ.

[40:20] The person is not transformed from a frog into a prince, but now they have really inside the power of the gospel, the spirit, a new story.
And out of that, we can begin then to take steps and walking with them.
I mean, the way Fikkert puts it, right, is relief, rehabilitation, and development.
And the key is that the gospel is really what ignites that. that.
And then we begin to work with people that would allow us to work with them, not to learn what can we give them.
The focus is rather, what are your assets?
What is a possible location? What are the things that you think Christ has made you that you can do on this world?
And there There begins a journey that, of course, is long and challenging to then begin to help people by asset base, but being the gospel, of course, the thing that ignites all of that.

[41:27] Yeah, so it's not right-left American politics.
It's not whatever our hobby horse is.
It's not where this conference is leading us. Absolutely.
Yeah, and thanks be to God for that. One thing that's interesting I see on MNA's website is that this is intentionally being listed it as a an event for more than the pca i mean it's it's morethan just um you know seeking to bring our own into it and open to uh you know outside churches and everything um do you are there anyone is it just the three of you speaking or anyoneelse speaking uh in in dallas yes okay okay yeah that's good okay so if anyone is concerned about uh other voices you won't get them we have uh three men from the PCA okay very goodand this is a it's friday and saturday friday night saturday i think it's like all day saturday isn't it yes i think so yeah i know there's a uh.

[42:43] Small cover charge to cover the, the, the cost for like, it's $59.
Um, uh, I've got to sign up. The link will be in the show notes for that.
Um, but it's, um, at the Northwest center, um, in Dallas, uh, Northwest community center, which is just North of what Park Lane, I think East of Greenville.
So in the, uh, in that area there. there.

[43:13] Should be a great event, and hopefully you guys have a great turnout for it.
I know information's been shared at a couple of our presbytery meetings, and I'm not sure.

[43:29] What the expectations are to people who travel to Dallas, but hopefully you guys will get some from around the state as well that come in for this event.
Yeah the um your your work um at the church in mission so focus goes back to that just for a second um what is it like you know thinking about the gospel as it goes forth looking at everyhow How do we as a church, right, how do we faithfully carry out the call to take the message to every, you know, every tribe, tongue, nation, people, group?
How do you go about shepherding, you know, the work of Redeemer, the people who are interested in missions?
Do they come to you and say, you know, Victor, I'm really sensing a call to go to this people group, right? And I'm sensing a call to go to, to go to Chile.
I'm sensing a call. I want to go to Thailand. I'm sensing the call.
I'm going to go to Norway, wherever. Right.
How do you, how do you begin to counsel someone who's considering missions work? Right.

[44:50] Yeah, I mean, I think that immediately some of the things that we like to talk about or explore is, you know, what are the motivations? What's behind that?
What costs that? The Lord can definitely call people through different circumstances and challenges.
Sometimes it's hearing a sermon, hearing the testimony from a missionary, or maybe even watching some media that's related to missions.
And all these things are important, how it all starts, where it's coming from.
And so I think that we want to always, we always encourage people to realize that the Lord calls people in the midst of his church and from his church, which is, it's a community.

[45:46] It's not just an organization, it's a community. And so how things are known or how do we learn, how do we feed or continue learning about what this calling could be happens verymuch in a community.
That would be versus because I took a class or because I heard this one thing.
And so we immediately, you know, somebody in the past that has happened to me, somebody comes and says, yeah, I want to go to China.
Lord's calling me, go to China. and I said well great and then they kind of immediately said well where in China can I go.

[46:26] They're like well let's not worry about that hey there's plenty of Chinese people here in San Antonio so let's start here where you know we could kind of learn in a safer more youknow helpful context, it's amazing actually how that, To some people, not everybody, but some people that almost becomes, you know, like a little letdown because, you know, they'rekind of thinking of it in a different way.
Right. But actually, that is, I mean, the Lord has brought the nations to our doorstep, as we like to say.
Amen. man it definitely people find this surprising but i think we all really know that i mean planning a trip for two weeks or a week to lima peru it's a lot easier sometimes than crossingthe street to talk to your neighbor right that can actually be harder yeah it's less risky to go to people you don't know exactly and it's easier to impress them too yes yes so we that's That'skind of some of the things we immediately want to.
And so we want to be sure that we can encourage, not discourage, but at the same time, challenge and help people think.

[47:43] And I think that's just some of the things we do. Yeah, that's well said.
And your point about the Lord bringing the nations to us, I mean, it is amazing to see what the United States has become with people.
People literally from everywhere around the world and in Texas you know right at the forefront of that with I mean I it'd be hard pressed probably to find a people group not representedhere in this state and you know our the major metros are just bursting at the seams with opportunities to, to share the gospel with unreached people groups right here in our own backyardlike you said, Yeah, I know there's a community in Frisco that the developers are actually advertising in India.
Come to this neighborhood in Frisco. Be in North Texas with your fellow Indians. Yeah.

[48:50] It's unbelievable. You never would have found this before. Yeah.
And we have it all over today. day yeah one way we've seen that is in our rear south texas that they're actually there's a shortage of spanish-speaking teachers right in the school system sothey literally go to mexico to cities like monterey where a lot of educated high educated people and they recruit you know people to come and teach over here.
And so it's amazing how much that happens.
And the need is such that our government is figuring out ways of doing that. But yeah, you're right.
Yeah, it is amazing. The Lord is definitely at work.
And it'll be interesting to see how the role of our churches and the PCA and our brothers or sisters in the NAPARC world as well, how the Lord uses us in the coming years as ourdemographics change, as we become more and more diverse.

[50:00] Yes. How will we take our Reformed distinctives and reach a very different populace than we have before? Yes.
Yes. Yeah, that is a huge challenge.
I mean, I would say that you can feel overwhelmed at times.
And I mean, I think some of those challenges are because the, you know, the...

[50:30] The Hispanics in our cities that are not in our churches, you know, they don't have the same natural networks of people and family to sustain the faith and things like that.
So typically, when a person comes to Christ from a Hispanic background, many times in our context here, it might be they're the first believers or they might be the first generation thatbasically, you know, when you deal with a culture of migration, typically that means that many are not in school or many of them are depending on manual labor, which is obviously agood and more than legitimate.
Thing, but when you think of the PCA, which sort of values traditional education and the degree, there's a reason why we value those things.
And we have a high standard, as we well should.

[51:34] But how do we then take that and open a door through that without lowering the standard, or without ever thinking we should do anything like that. We don't want to do that.
But how do we value the education, how they learn, and all of those things?
And that's a real challenge.
It is, yeah. And just, I mean, the translation of resources.

[52:03] There's a number of things that need to go hand in hand.
And, you know, I don't know if you've had the opportunity to know of or heard the previous episode, but, you know, Hamid Atami, who is in Richardson, he just became the first ordained,you know, someone from a Muslim background, from an Iranian descent, ordained in the PCA as a teaching elder, right?
And, you know, he's doing a lot of work in translating.
They're doing, you know, Farsi translation for Ligonier.

[52:46] But the need for that is tremendous in, you know, taking not just classic works of our Reformed history, but even, you know, modern-day works that are major or influential.
Like you mentioned, Palmer Robertson's Christ of the Covenants.
I mean, we need that translated in all kinds of languages. That's right.
That's right. The work before us in some ways seems overwhelming, but we know the Lord will provide for his church. Yeah. Yeah.
Well, brother, it has been wonderful sitting down with you today and hearing the Lord's work in your life and what he's doing at Redeemer San Antonio.

[53:41] The conference you have this weekend and then the conference MNA hosting again April 12th and 13th in Dallas, Restore 2024 event. event.
You will be present at both, obviously, again, and we just pray that the Lord would bless that conference, that many would come to hear the message that you have, that the three of youhave, to share where the Lord is leading you and the work of His church and reaching out to people who need lifting up in so many different ways.
And obviously, first and foremost, again, and so we've talked about already, the spiritual.
We don't want anyone to be lost and pray that all would come to faith and the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Yes. You said that well, brother. Couldn't say it any better.
Oh, Victor, thank you so much.

[54:50] The Redeemer San Antonio, I'll have all these links in the show notes, but it's on the web and the MNA website,
But obviously the link for it's a little too long for audio, so we'll put that in the show notes and have everything on here.

[55:12] Before we go Victor anything else you'd like to leave us with, Yeah, I mean, I would just say that when we just encourage, I mean, we are still mostly learning how to do thisministry.
We don't think of ourselves as experts, but I just want to encourage people that this always looks hard, looks difficult, looks like maybe a high cost because of my busy life.
But I just want to encourage people to not let those things get in the way of doing ministry, mercy ministry, reaching to others in the city and situations where it's challenging for them.
And for us, it's challenging because we don't always know what to do, but that's part of what it means to help.
We have to learn as well. And so I just want to encourage people to attend the conference or look to those materials and allow their hearts to be challenged by the Lord and His Word.
And I think out of that, on the other side, yes, we'll learn a lot.
Our faith will be challenged, and sometimes we're going to make mistakes as well.
But at the end of that, when you find yourself in the kingdom and doing his work, whether you're ordained or whether you're a doctor or a construction worker.

[56:36] There'll be an immeasurable amount of joy in your heart.
It will bless your life and really, really to give us true meaning for why we're here for Christ and his gospel.
So, yeah, go for it. Well said.

[56:52] Well said. And well, Victor, again, thank you so much for, uh, for joining us and, uh, we, uh, we hope you and all of our listeners have a great day.
Uh, we look forward to speaking with you again in the future.
Thank you, brother. My pleasure. Thank you, sir.

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