We’re republishing this as part of our 25th anniversary series featuring favorite stories from our archives. This story by Virginia Tobias about one of our oldest ministry partners appeared in ANM’s magazine in 2010. Enjoy!
“Stop going to bars and getting drunk!” demanded Oscar’s grandmother.
Oscar Vallejo’s family was nominally Roman Catholic, not very religious, and they generally despised evangelicals. One of Oscar’s buddies had bet him he could not touch a girl in an evangelical meeting. Determined to win that bet, 17-year-old Oscar decided to visit an evangelical house church meeting down the street.
When the invitation was given, he went forward to be near some of the girls who also went forward.
“Young man! What do you want here?” The pastor startled him.
Flustered, Oscar blurted out, “I want to accept Jesus!”
“Get on your knees,” the pastor ordered. He laid the Bible on Oscar’s head and prayed.
After the service, Oscar walked home, not truly understanding what had happened to him.
Within the week, the pastor came to visit. Oscar saw him coming, crawled under the bed, and told his mother, “Tell him I’m not here!”
The pastor preached the Gospel to the family, but they were not interested.
“Next time you must confront him yourself!” his mother said, disgusted with the outcome.
“Don’t worry, he won’t come back,” Oscar assured her.
Two days later, the pastor returned.
“God is calling you, Oscar—God has shown me that He has a purpose for you,” the pastor told him.
“I can’t be a Christian—I play soccer!” Oscar confessed. Soccer games were held on Sundays.
The pastor would not be put off. “If God is calling you and you resist, everything will go bad in your life.”
Soon everything began to go really badly. The company where he worked closed. No job. He thought about what the pastor had said.
Someone had given a Bible to Oscar’s mother, but Oscar had simply written profanities in it. Now in his forced leisure he got it out and began to read it.
Four months later he told the pastor, “I want to be baptized.”
The next month his pastor held an all-night vigil. Oscar was among the several hundred people and other pastors who were present. After the pastor preached, he said, “We will have ten more messages.” Then he looked straight at Oscar and said, “You preach!”
“I don’t know how!” Oscar responded.
“If you are a Christian, you will obey,” the pastor affirmed.
Oscar got up, preached a six-minute message, and sat down.
“Get on your knees,” the pastor said to him.
Oscar got on his knees, not knowing what to expect.
“Let’s pray for this future pastor,” the pastor said. All pastors present began to cry out, “Lord, raise up this new pastor; take him wherever You want him to go.”
Oscar was also praying: “No! No! No!”
Toward revival in Honduras
He didn’t want that kind of life. He considered pastors lazy. Why don’t they get a real job? he often wondered. Then he decided, I will work and support them!
Two months later, the pastor left. Oscar’s mother, who had since become a Christian, asked him to lead their services. “You can play the guitar, and you can read, so you can preach,” she said. “Tell them Bible stories—just until the pastor comes back!”
The pastor never came back—and Oscar preached for two more years, leading many to Jesus. Among these were several witch doctors, who often controlled entire villages. Once the witch doctors submitted to Jesus, the whole village followed them.
The Lord placed a burden on his heart for his fellow Hondurans. In 1976 Oscar went to the southern town of Choluteca and planted Good Shepherd Church. In two years the congregation grew from 20 to 200. He found other like-minded pastors. They joined with Oscar, and their fellowship of congregations was called the Council of Evangelical Churches.
Slightly larger than Tennessee, Honduras ranks as the second poorest country in Central America. Oscar understands that their poverty can press them into the arms of the Lord.
His ministry introduces Jesus to seekers, disciples them in the Word, and organizes churches. Since 1976 [until 2010] the ministry’s workers have planted 60 churches throughout the country: 13 churches in the north, eight in the central region, and 39 in the south. The Council also trains its own workers. They ordained 15 new pastors last year.
Graham Stewart told ANM about this group of pastors in Honduras in 1992. ANM sent Bo Barredo to visit them just to get to know them. While there, Bo asked, “What do you need?”
“Many of our pastors and members of their family are sick,” Oscar said, “and they do not have the money to go to a doctor.”
So the next year ANM brought a short-term medical mission team to Honduras where they gave complete physicals to all the pastors, and administered simple medications to those who needed them. Oscar and the pastors were impressed. “This is the kind of ministry we want to partner with,” he decided. And the ANM leaders thought similarly of Oscar’s ministry.
Oscar directs the ministry along with five other leaders. Humble, disciplined men, they visit the churches monthly to encourage, pray with and counsel the pastors. This is a transparent ministry and holds to the highest standards of integrity. Special emphasis is given to the children and youth—the future leaders of Honduras. Interestingly, their goal for the future is not to plant more churches, but to strengthen the ones that already exist—still poor, yes, but rich in Christ!
Twenty-five years after we started partnering with native ministries like Oscar’s Council of Evangelical Churches to reach the unreached, the work continues, and we are closer than ever to seeing the Gospel proclaimed and lived out among every people group in the world. Thank you for your partnership in the Gospel!
There’s more to be done, and just $25 a month can equip another missionary.