From a Lost Man to a Missionary
Genesis 15:5 “He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars-if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, ”So shall your offspring be.”
1.A Lost Man
My name is Isidro Puente Perez. I was born in Mexico City in 1965 as the fourth child among eight children.
When I was young, my parents yelled and fought a lot, and I was often beaten also. My father was always ready to burst and I spent my childhood in fear and anger.
Eventually, he left us for another woman. Yes! I was not sad at all. I was so happy with my freedom. I hated my home because of bad memories, so I found an excuse through soccer to stay outside as much as possible. Naturally, I didn’t study well. I barely managed to graduate from high school and involuntarily applied for engineering.
However, I had a hard time because I didn’t even have the basic education for math. I wandered in despair. I had an affair with the wife of one of my friends. I was full of guilt, and I couldn’t bear to face my friend. I decided to leave school, home, work and go somewhere far away.
1. God Saved Me and Raised Me as a Missionary
It was at that time in 1990, that God had mercy on me and invited me to Bible study through Sh. Edith. I didn’t show up twice, and each time, much to my irritation, sh. Edith came to my house. So I started to see her on her third invitation. The word of God started to work in my heart through 1:1 Bible study. During the Summer Bible Conference, I repented of all my sins and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior through John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. “I deeply realized the reason for my misery was because I was apart from Jesus. I was now so full of joy! I had played soccer in my neighborhood team every Sunday, without fail, for 10 years. But I now gave this up in order to attend the Sunday worship service, and I have never missed a single worship service since then. God became first as King and Lord in my heart, and I served Mexico ministry with all my heart through all kinds of menial work. Through this, God started to bless me in every way.
Firstly, God blessed me to establish a house church with my former Bible teacher, Sh. Edith in 1992. But my wife discovered my difficulties in school, especially my struggle with mathematics. Because Sh. Edith happened to be the most fruitful disciple-maker in our ministry, even sending them as missionaries to Peru, Bolivia and the US, there was no other way but for M. Abraham Hwang to help me. God allowed me to study math at a private institute, and God helped me to graduate from a private college with a degree in engineering. Furthermore, Sh. Edith, like Sarah in Genesis, could not have children. But we prayed for 5 years and God blessed us with a son, who we named Isaac.
M. Edith gave her life to serving and loving Bible students. She often didn’t even have time to prepare dinner, and sometimes she gave my dinner to them. So I became a hungry husband. Not only this, but soon we started to fight because of this matter. Fortunately, M. Abraham and Sarah took my side, and through this God once again restored happiness to our family.
At the Mexico Easter Bible Conference in 2002, M. Mother Barry gave us a direction to stop waiting for Korean missionaries, but to go out and pioneer the 33 Latin American countries. My house church prayed earnestly that we might pioneer one among these. In answer to our prayer, God gave me Genesis 15:5: “He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’” However, M. Abraham Hwang thought it best for us to stay for three reasons:
Firstly, our house church was playing a very important role with the CU Chapter.
Second, it would be difficult for me to support my family financially in a poorer country with my lack of skills.
Third, because I hadn’t studied well and stammered from my childhood, it would be hard for me to be an effective messenger.
However, God intervened in a very strange way. My wife, who was one of the most fruitful leaders in our ministry, suddenly stopped bearing fruit. Further, M. Abraham Hwang, who said we lacked skills, helped us to run a business to help us financially. However, our business was often robbed and did not go well. Moreover, at the beginning of 2006, CE UBF and Guadalajara UBF became competitive to send the first missionaries to Dominican Republic. As a result of Mother Barry’s direction, 11 countries (total 20) were pioneered. Of them, 4 were pioneered by Mexico native shepherds.
Within a week of this decision, we handed over our store on Jan 31, and within two days, we were on El Salvadorian soil as missionaries. God blessed us abundantly even in El Salvador.
Firstly, God immediately solved our visa problem by granting me a job.
Upon arriving at the airport, we took a taxi and checked in at the cheapest hotel near the national university. We went to the campus to pray. There, I saw an advertisement on the engineering department building. As soon as I wrote down the phone number, a professor came and put a students’ report chart exactly on the top of that advertisement. So no one saw the advertisement except me. At the interview the next day, the president of the company asked me if I threw away the advertisement after I saw it. But I told him what actually happened, and amazingly, he hired me saying that God had prepared this position for me. It was a miracle that an unskilled foreigner like me could find a job in a poor country with a high unemployment rate within two days of entry.
Second, God blessed us with a beautiful Bible center.
I earned the favor of my new boss, who entrusted me with everything, as Pharaoh did to Joseph, but my monthly salary was only $500. So we had held worship services at our small apartment that was barely big enough to fit 10 people. But God, sent our family M. Pablo Star Oh, a Korean ambassador with a PhD. We could not believe that this Korean man could come to our humble home to worship God.
We tried to rent a better house, but there was none available near the campus. Yet we found a house for sale, second-closest from the main entrance to the university. God blessed us with this huge 280 m2 Bible center through the faith of M. Pablo Star Oh and his offering, and the offering of the rich Sh. Blas in Mexico, of Mexico UBF, and a loan from Chicago UBF. It was also very huge- 280 m2. After M. Pablo left, God sent us M. Daniel Park’s family to continue to help us. M. Daniel Park used to be the dean of Korea Railroad college. They are supporting our ministry with a lot of offering, which almost equals my salary. Although M. Abraham Hwang thought I wouldn’t become a good messenger, it has become my joy to prepare the weekly message here. My wife also testifies that I prepare good messages unlike in Mexico. As proof, M. Edith started to bear fruit in disciple-making ministry again in El Salvador. Juan Carlos, Aida, Seneida, Engie and four native shepherds have been raised as Bible teachers, and are bearing much fruit. El Salvador means “the Savior” (Jesus) in Spanish. Yet it is one of the smallest, and one of the most disdained countries, kind of like my life.
In the past, my idea of joy was scoring an occasional goal with my neighborhood soccer team. Without God, I would have lived a meaningless life and wasted my life. However, there is a prophesy regarding Jesus’ birth: “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” Jesus himself was born in the smallest and most disdained place. I praise God for granting me a great vision for even a small and ignored place like El Salvador, of seeing the salvation of many souls, as many and countless as the stars in the sky.
One Word: Look up at the sky and count the stars. So shall be your offspring in El Salvador.