Last month, on June 11-13, Timothy Keller was the special guest speaker at a national gathering with over 1000 pastors in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The unity among this body of pastors has garnered attention from Christianity Today, Lausanne and Pope Francis (formerly the Archbishop of Buenos Aires). This close-knit group has pastoral councils in every city, and they meet together to pray and encourage one another across denominations and traditions. They are also commonly recognized by local governments for their service to the poor.
During the national gathering in June, Dr. Keller exhorted pastors to see the Bible as being all about Jesus rather than all about us—for example, about his finished work on the cross rather than our own good works—and to believe and live out the implications of the gospel in our own lives, which none of us fully do. Many pastors in attendance described the message as thought-provoking, Christ-centered and powerful. We’re hopeful that this will be a precursor to similar events we can do through a regional CTC network in Latin America, which would be similar to City to City Asia and City to City Europe.
On June 14, Dr. Keller spoke at a breakfast sponsored by the Argentine Bible Society at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Buenos Aires. The event was called “Fe y trabajo: una relación liberadora” (Faith and work: a liberating relationship). Buenos Aires, a city of 13 million that attracts immigrants from all over Latin America seeking advancement, is like New York in that it is significantly more workaholic and ambitious than the rest of the country and much of the continent.
In Dr. Keller’s talk, he spoke about the internal moral compass and source of strength that Christianity provides amid the pressure of the workplace. He also spoke of the hope that it brings to our frustration, citing the story “Leaf by Niggle” by J.R.R. Tolkien, and many other ideas from the book Every Good Endeavor. More than half of the 170 in attendance were non-Christians.
Our thanks to Marcelo Robles, a key leader in Buenos Aires, who was responsible for making both events possible and served as Dr. Keller’s translator. He was part of our 2011 International Intensive and has a longstanding relationship with Redeemer, including receiving short-term mission trips in 2011 and 2012. He is now working on a university center and church plant in the secular center-city neighborhood of Palermo.
We are also indebted to Norberto Saracco, head of the Facultad Internacional de Educación Teológica, a seminary now in 12 Spanish-speaking countries. John Thomas, CTC’s Director of Global Training, has been partnering with FIET to conduct the first two-year Church Planting Incubator program outside of New York, completely in Spanish (occurring simultaneously in Santiago, Chile). Many of the participating pastors were present at these events.