News Articles

A ‘bold drunk’ becomes bold believer

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year’s Week of Prayer for International Missions, Nov. 30-Dec. 7, focuses on missionaries who serve in South America as well as churches partnering with them, exemplifying the global outreach supported by Southern Baptists’ gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This year’s theme is “GO TELL the story of Jesus”; the national offering goal is $170 million.

HUANCANÉ, Peru (BP)–Rick Martinez was out of ideas.

For months the Southern Baptist missionary had encouraged, cajoled, even pleaded with believers at the small church he led to be more proactive about sharing their faith. He repeatedly invited the members to join him for evangelism at the local market in the Peruvian Andes village of Huancané, but so far no one had shown up.

That changed the day Rick baptized Juan Mamani. In his former life, he was known for his penchant for alcohol. But he had surrendered his life to Christ, and as Rick raised Mamani from the water the 60-year-old man said something Rick didn’t expect.

“Now that I am baptized, I’m going to preach the Word of God to all Huancané,” Mamani declared. “Next Sunday I’m going to go to the market and I’m going to preach.”

Suddenly a woman in the congregation stood up and volunteered to join him. Several others followed her lead.

Rick was skeptical.

“Nobody is going to show up,” he remembers thinking. “Those people said that because they didn’t want to be outdone.”

But to his surprise, people did come that next Sunday. First, Mamani and his wife. And slowly but surely, others trickled in as well.

When the group reached the market, Rick was surprised again. On their own initiative, they began to sing worship songs from their hymnals. Eventually, a crowd gathered around the group to listen. Mamani took this as his cue to preach and for the first time he publicly shared his newfound faith.

“When Juan was a drunk, he was a bold drunk,” Rick laughs. “And now, as a believer, he’s a bold believer.

“I learned something that day,” Rick adds. “I can preach my heart out, but it’s critical for these people to see one of their own doing it. They expect me to do it — I’m a missionary. But when they were challenged by one of their own, they couldn’t let the challenge go unmet.

“That’s probably my favorite story, because it was the first glimpse of what was possible here in Huancané.”
Don Graham is a writer for the International Mission Board. To learn more about reaching South America for Christ, go to samregion.org. Gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering can be made at www.imb.org/offering to support the International Mission Board’s more than 5,300 missionaries worldwide, including Rick and Kelly Martinez.

    About the Author

  • Don Graham