Nicolás is one of the two founding pastors of Iglesia Biblica de la Gracia (Grace Bible Church) in Rosario, Argentina. This church was started in 2010. Nicolás spent the better part of 2011 studying at a ministerial academy in Lima, Peru and is currently the only HeartCry missionary in Latin America outside of Peru.
I would like to share with you a testimony of the conversion of a man named Luciano, who I was able to meet over a year ago. From the moment we met Luciano, he kept himself very distant from the Gospel. He had been raised in an “evangelical” family, and ever since he was a child, he had learned to live a religious life. As we later found out, however, it was a life full of sin. He was very kind toward us, but he was constantly questioning aspects of the message of the Gospel, such as the justice of God and the condemnation of sinners or the need for repentance.
He and his wife began to come to our congregation, but it lasted a short while. After a few weeks, Luciano insisted to his wife that they attend a different congregation, because he did not feel comfortable in our church. So they visited a different place, where the Gospel was not preached, where they often spoke about financial prosperity. The people there did not appear to be believers, and the Bible was not taught. Nevertheless, Luciano preferred to stay at that congregation, because, in his own words, he “felt comfortable there, and no one bothered [his] conscience.”
This whole situation resulted in problems in his marriage. He began to resist the Gospel more and more, even to the point of mocking the message of Christ. All of his religiosity was left uncovered and the sins of his heart began to manifest themselves with great force. He abandoned all appearance of being a Christian, and he gave himself over to sin. It was during this time that Luciano decided to leave his home, leaving behind his wife and children. Once he had abandoned his family, he began to flee more and more from God, and he gave himself over more and more to sin. He mocked the faith of his wife; he mocked God; and according to his own words, he hated to hear the preaching of the Gospel, he hated the church, and he hated everything associated with the Christianity that had stripped him of his comfort (which is what he thought at the time) and had destroyed his family.
He eventually returned home, but his scoffing of his wife’s faith did not stop. He continually mocked her to her face as she read the Bible and told her that she was going to hell. He told his wife to no longer mention anything that had to do with God, and he became very angry if she was listening to a sermon. He was determined to be an enemy of God, but God had other plans!
A few weeks after he had returned to his home, he began to experience something that was completely unfamiliar to him: he began to have conviction of his sin. But he didn’t even know what it was or what was happening to him! He began to feel miserable, sad, and without any desire to do anything. A great despair began to invade his thoughts, and for the first time, he saw himself as a person who was worthy of hell. It was during these days that he began to call upon the name of the Lord. He also called us, wanting us to come and preach the Gospel to him one more time. He did not understand what was happening to him, but he no longer wanted to live as he was; so he simply prayed, “God, I am worthy of hell. I no longer want to live like this.”
One night, as he was experiencing such anguish that he could not sleep, he got up and went to the kitchen to find the Bible. After having mocked God for months, he was now running to a Bible for comfort! In His providence, the Lord led him to open the Bible to Romans. After reading the first few chapters, his soul was crushed. He wept as he saw for the first time his sin and the righteous condemnation that he deserved. He was miserable and without hope. In this condition, he tried to go back to bed, but he was unable to sleep. Being unable to stop weeping, he cried out to God to have mercy on him, and he returned to kitchen and continued reading in Romans. And that is when the comfort came! As he continued reading, the love of God was shown to him. He could see that the God whose “wrath is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness” (Romans 1:18) was the same God who had shown that He loved him by sending His Son to die for his sins (Romans 5:8). The love of God had reached him! Yes, “He had done this while I was still a sinner. When I wanted nothing to do with Him, He loved me! He had sent His Son to save me!” These are his own words. Jesus had died for him. That was sufficient. He no longer feared; he was no longer sad; instead, he only had a desire to live for his King Jesus, who had loved him even to death.
Jesus arrived in his life, and everything changed. Luciano was recently baptized, making his faith public in Jesus, a faith that still remains, and one that will remain, by grace, until the end of his days.