are there guitars in Argentina?

I was talking with Pablo last night, at our final asado on this trip. Fifteen people got together to eat about 16 pounds of meat over three hours, as the various cuts and kinds roasted slowly on the grill.

Pablo is a missionary kid, a child of two cultures whose parents have the opportunity to be supported by churches in the States, although they are both from Latin America. In addition to his deep-seated appreciation for his own culture (he says we really need to see a professional soccer game in Argentina before we die), he has been to the U.S. several times, for several months at a time.

He told me a couple of stories about his memorable experiences there and one of the things he appreciated was when people asked good questions. Do they have guitars in Argentina was not a good question, although someone asked him once. His idea of a good question was one that showed some knowledge and appreciation for their work, a question about someone they had mentioned in a prayer letter, for example.

Pablo is a serious young man, pursuing a degree in agriculture at the university as well as a three-year certificate at the Word of Life Bible institute near Buenos Aires. Along with his three sisters, he is wholly involved in his parents’ ministry. (See interview with Pablo and his sister Andrea.) Theirs is a family that has made many sacrifices to serve Christ in a culture grown indifferent to spiritual vitality and Biblical truth.

But he made me wonder if we aren’t all asking the wrong questions. Being closed to the gospel is not culturally bound. Properly understood, grace is humbling to us all—that’s why Paul said the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who do not believe. None of us want to be told our efforts are not good enough. But of course they aren’t, which is what makes the cross necessary in the first place.

It seems like the really important questions about missions are about the power of God. Yes, there are cultural challenges to comprehend. In Argentina there is a lack of respect for authority in general and absolute truth in particular. But that’s true everywhere. Understanding these things is necessary but not sufficient.

What we ought to be asking is when and where we see the spirit of God moving, softening hearts and drawing men and women to Himself. And if He is not, why not? Have we read the letters? Are we praying enough?

Now those are good questions.

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