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Argentina A-Team
Argentina A-Team: my friends and I from Atlanta, plus two new friends.
Argentina Plaza
An Argentine plaza - they're everywhere. It's a very outdoor society.
Argentina Tough Guys
Me discussing life with some local tough guys
Argentina Omar de Filipe Family
Pastor Omar de Filipe and his family run an orphanage in San Nicolas.
Argentina the Germans
Our group was international, including five Germans.
Argentina Bus 5
We had five buses, and a lot of young people. This is our group from Bus 5.


Charity: The Sixth Knightly Virtue - Part 2

Ten years ago, I went on a mission trip to Argentina. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I went with four friends from my church and an organization called Harvest Evangelism, whose head, Ed Silvoso, was an Argentine that had gained an international reputation for reaching cities with the Gospel through a technique called "prayer-evangelism." Argentina is a Catholic country with a history of witchcraft, paganism, economic instability and revolution, and we went there to storm those strongholds with prayer.

It looked like we had landed in Europe when we stepped off the air bus in Buenos Aires in the middle of winter. The people were warm and friendly: they're of Italian decent, even though they speak Spanish and have a British style government. But we stayed cold and damp for the three weeks we were there because we were housed in a heatless castle in the middle of a closed theme park. One night I got lost in that park walking back to the castle after making a phone call, and it was one of the scariest experiences I've ever had. Our breakfast each day was a piece of bread and coffee. By the end of the trip, we were all sick. And, to top it off, a llama spit in my face. Nice! Nevertheless, the trip was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Knights of old "went forth" each day for the purpose of doing deeds of valor and helping others. They were soldiers and missionaries rolled into one. Their vows were both military and ecclesiastical because they belonged to both military and religious orders. Except for individuals who take on similar commitments themselves, there is nothing like them today. And yet, they exemplify what it means to be a Christian: a compassionate warrior.

Christ sent His followers out into the world to harvest the crop that He was raising up. He never meant for us to stay inside the barn and wait for the crop to come to us. Most Christians never seem to get beyond feathering their own nests. And those that do are more like lambs being sent to the slaughter than soldiers equipped and trained to deal with whatever life throws at them. There are exceptions, of course, like Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, Angus Buchan and Ed Silvoso; but when are the exceptions going to become the rule?

Each day in Argentina, we went forth for one purpose: to pray. We prayed in parks, in prisons, in homes, on the streets, in restaurants - wherever we met people. We always asked, "May we pray for you?" and people always answered, "Yes." We saw people healed and come to Christ. We saw Christian prisoners that basically ran their own prisons. We saw people with very few possessions that seemed far more content and blessed than most Americans. We saw ourselves change into the people we really wanted to be as we carried out the Great Commission. We wouldn't have seen those things if we'd stayed at home. One of my friends that went on the trip still asks people, "May I pray for you?" when he's out in public. What a great habit to have in your life.

Argentina continues to struggle, but each year it becomes a little more Christian. The pattern is 1) economic downturn; followed by 2) military coup; followed by 3) growth of Christianity; then 4) economic upturn; followed by 5) backslide into paganism; and back to 6) economic downturn. Sounds a lot like you and me, doesn't it? They take two steps forward and one step back, like they're doing a spiritual tango. They're a pretty slow-paced country, in more ways than one. In other places, like China and parts of Africa, the growth is excellerated. Even Muslim countries are being evangelized today, which is extremely dangerous for those doing the work. We need to pray every day for our brothers and sisters "in the field."

Going out into the world each day should be like passing through the arched gate of a walled city. You leave the comfort and security of the city behind to go out into the world, in order to take to the world the benefits of the city. The City of God, which is the city to which Christians belong, has so many benefits - why wouldn't we want to tell others about it? But the world has been prepared for our coming, both by the devil and by Christ. Those who are meant to hear, will, and those who are not meant to, won't.

Christendom has gotten a lot of criticism for the Crusades. When you begin to study the Muslim mindset, though, it's not hard to understand why all of Europe turned out for that great mission to the Holy Land. Christians in the Middle Ages believed that visiting the places where Christ had walked would bring them closer to Him. Muslims had taken over those places, and, like today, there were radicals that had determined to kill any Christian trying to visit them. Roads between Europe and the lands of the Bible were littered with the remains of people who had wanted nothing more than to worship their Lord. The Crusades were about making those roads safe again. Eventually, that escalated into regaining the entire Holy Land for Christendom.

Knights of old went forth to do good, for the most part. They established hospitals and other charitable institutions that were the forerunners of modern charities. Why are we going forth today? To do good, or to make money for ourselves? The need for "those who go forth" has not lessened, but increased. If selfish men can go forth each day to accomplish their purposes, why can't we do the same, but for the purpose of Christ? Aren't there children, teenagers, widows, prisoners, poor people, sick people, homeless and countless others that need a modern day knight to go forth and fight for them?

No one is more of a home body than I. No one likes to travel less or is more high maintenance, for a guy. I like having my stuff, my routine, my projects, my solitude. Yet, like you, I am called to go forth. I am not saying everyone should be a missionary, or even that they should go on a mission trip every year. But if you've never been on one, you need to go. What I am saying is that you and I both need to find a mission field outside ourselves and our own families in which we can work with people that are less fortunate than we. We need that.

Muslims have decided that the best way to take over the world - and, trust me, that is their goal - is to continue having as many babies as possible and let nature take its course. Muslims hate their enemies, and many will kill their enemies if given half a chance. Christians are having less babies and are taught to love their enemies. Who, would you guess, will win in a contest like that? I'm betting on the Christians; because the best way to win against an enemy is to love him into joining your side. The question is, will Christians love their enemies, or will we pursue our own, selfish dreams?

I hate the phrase "the American Dream" as it is defined today, because it exemplifies the selfishness that is rampant in America. Owning your own home is not the American dream - liberty is. Liberty is what our forefathers fought and died for; not so we could own a stupid house, but so we could use our freedom to pursue more worthy goals. Is there any liberty more precious than the liberty we have in Christ, or any goal more worthy than the one He has given us of reaching the world with His Word?

Liberty is what we share with people when we go forth: freedom from fear, depression, hopelessness, lack of purpose and all the other things that defeat people in life. Not only that, but when we share liberty with others, we gain greater freedom ourselves. Isn't that worth the effort it takes to put on your armor each day and go forth? When we do that, we become the modern day knights the world needs us to be, as Christ Himself was when He went forth.

When you go forth this week, ask someone you don't know if you can pray for him or her. See what happens. You might be amazed.


Waitsel Smith, October 9, 2009

Text © 2009 Waitsel Smith. Photos © various photographers. All Rights Reserved.

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