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Missionary’s counseling skills help reach Paraguay for Christ

ASUNCION, Paraguay (BP)–To the casual observer in Paraguay’s capital city, all seems well. People are working, the economy is stable, wars and famines are not a concern. But the person who makes a conscious effort to befriend and listen to the people there will discover many with deep-rooted needs and unanswered questions.
In a modern society where many are without Christ, life is full of complex problems and concerns. Many struggle with addiction, sexual abuse, disjointed relationships or just loneliness.
But some are turning to Southern Baptist missionary Hebert Palomino for the answer. Of course, this Colombian-born International Mission Board missionary is not the answer, but just a signpost to the one who is, Jesus Christ. With faith in what God can do, Palomino carries out his life’s calling by listening and being available as a confidant to those in need.
Palomino works out of the Baptist Medical Center in Asuncion. Assigned to train local pastors in counseling and chaplaincy, his South American upbringing and people skills have provided him plenty of opportunities to reach people from all walks of life.
Those opportunities have multiplied since the day he first appeared on a popular morning TV program with Paraguay’s most recognized entertainer, Arturo Rubin. Now Palomino appears on this live call-in show regularly to discuss a wide range of life issues.
“Every time I go to his program, one thing I ask the Lord is, ‘Please lead me and give me the words,’ because the phone calls are right there,” he says. “You don’t have time to say, let me think about it or let me go back and read about it. As soon as you are listening to the question, the person on the other line of the phone is waiting for your answer.”
Palomino’s appearances and his friendship with Rubin have also given him access to major sporting events. He counsels players, coaches and sportscasters who struggle with loneliness as they go from one country to another.
At times, Palomino takes his expertise to different parts of South America as well. Recently he traveled back to his homeland, Colombia, to work with International Mission Board missionary John Magyar on a video for training Baptist leaders in issues on the family.
Whether he’s at home or on the road, Palomino’s heartthrob is people.
“I continually tell my students in the pastoral ministries classes that you have to learn to care,” he says. “You have to ask God to give you a compassionate heart to be with the people in the middle of suffering, pain. People — they will never forget that.”
Palomino’s concern for people is perhaps most often displayed at the Baptist Medical Center in Asuncion. At any given time, he can be found there with people suffering from various physical and emotional afflictions.
Nhora Friedmann, a former diplomat, came to the hospital after she tried to commit suicide. After several meetings with him, Friedmann saw her need for Jesus and gave her life to him.
Pedro Nunez, a 36-year-old bus driver, came face-to-face with his mortality when he realized he was suffering from a heart condition and time was running out. In July 1996, he went to the Baptist Medical Center and found himself as Paraguay’s first heart-transplant patient. The operation was a success, and with Palomino at his side, Nunez committed his new heart to the Lord.
As life goes on for Nunez and Friedmann, so will their struggles. But now, when trials and tribulations come, they have a loving Savior to whom they can turn. And it’s simply because Palomino had the answer — the answer found in the person of Jesus Christ.

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  • Gunther Friedrichs