Gerry Gutierrez' Prayer Letter & Update
“Go west, young man” – was the invitation. So I went west and kept on going west till I arrived back home again through the back yard.
If I ever had a doubt as to the shape of our world, I no longer have such a doubt. It is round!
When the invitation came from Eddie Waxer of the International
Sports Coalition to go to Korea to the World Congress on Sports, I was
not interested to begin with. But after consulting with Mission to the
World and with the Mc Lean Presbyterian church regarding the
possibility of visiting Japan, Hong Kong, China and Moscow at he same
time, I became excited about making plans for such a trip under the
auspices of these 3 organizations. The purpose of this trip would be
In Korea, I was able to fully identify with Eddie Waxer’s vision for the sports’ ministry in every level of society and the church. There was great deal of exchanging of notes among the 500 delegates regarding the know-how of this ministry.
I was personally benefited in not only learning of this ministry, but in being able to make contacts through out Latin America. Occasionally I served as interpreter in the regional workshops, and I also had the opportunity to disciple a Peruvian sports idol, Roberto Abogatas, who holds the present world title of high jumping among the senior athletes – and who is now an enthusiastic new believer.
I also spent a good deal of time with Victor Stuardo, who is a professional soccer player from Chile. I took advantage to organize a soccer championship of Latin America against the rest of the world.
An Argentinean Presbyterian pastor from Buenos Aires, who is in charge of three upper class churches, but who is ailing in health, issued me, what he termed, a “Macedonian Call”, to come help him.
The Peruvian Ambassador invited me to a reception for the Peruvian athletes, among whom was the girls’ volleyball team that lost the gold medal by one point. At that meeting, I was able to witness to the diplomats from Venezuela and Peru.
The Korean church is truly impressive in its size and number, and the reason apparently is because it is a praying church, a worshipping church, a witnessing church, and it is free from liberalism. There is a prayer mountain (a center) set apart for prayer. Korean Christians love to worship. I saw thousands waiting to enter the church for a service, and as soon as they entered, they were replaced by thousands of others waiting for the next service. There were seven Sunday services in that church. The largest church in Korea has 600,000 members, and it continues to grow. It has 500 pastors. Young people are always out witnessing on the streets; I myself was witnessed to on three different occasions.
According to Dr. Billy Kim the reason for the Korean church growth is because they don’t know the evil of liberalism.
The Korean people seem to be very busy and in a hurry. They drive fast. The economy is booming. It is hard to imagine that this was the scenario of the Korean War.
I made many contacts among sports people, sports workers, some gold medalists and many others who have the vision to use sports as a means towards evangelism. I was invited to visit Paris, Australia and many Latin American countries by sports workers who wanted me to give them a hand there.
I myself have begun to see that playing golf with Pentagon officers and with ambassadors provide a good opportunity for witnessing of the Lord. They share their knowledge of golf with me, and I share the Lord with them.
These were some of the seminars offered there in Korea:
Some of the reasons for this Congress:
On the way to the World Congress on Sports in Korea, I had the privilege of seeing fulfilled the long-awaited desire of visiting my friend and class-mate, Bruce Young and his wife, Susan (MTW church-planters in Nagoya). As soon as I arrived, Bruce put me to work that night in an evangelistic Bible study in the home of Mr. And Mrs. Fokuda. Before entering Mr. Fokuda’s house, we stopped to pray for this meeting, because neither Bruce nor I knew anyone there. (This was Mr. Jennings’ group who was away in the U.S.) Several Businessmen were there, and they approached the Bible study and the sharing of my testimony, and they asked many questions. They asked me to come back to Japan. As we left, Bruce and I felt that our prayers had been answered that night.
On Sunday I shared my testimony with the church with Bruce translating, and on Sunday night I spoke to the children and to the missionaries. Mr. And Mrs. Yamamoto, a businessman and his wife from Nagoya, were present in that meeting. They have a son in New Jersey with whom we have been in contact. He will be coming to visit us here in Washington D.C.
SIMA workers organized a combined meeting of their business mens’ groups in the educational center, and it was well received. Some of the SIMA workers had read about the national prayer breakfast in Chile, and they would like very much to have one in Japan.
Jennifer impressed me as one who has made a good impression on the Japanese people. She apparently has a good handle on the language and seems to have vision for the work in Nagoya.
Some Observations regarding the Japanese people are that they are punctual, they have a great sense of duty and they are very helpful and organized; however smoking is a national problem.
There is a possibility that we could be having visitors from Japan this summer, who would be led by a SIMA worker.
HONG KONG VISIT
In Hong Kong, I visited my classmate and friend, Wai-Kan Yu and his family. Wai-Kan is a godly man, a Christian leader, who heads up the Hong Kong Church Renewal Movement. (Wai-Kan just visited us here in Washington last week.)
Hong Kong certainly is not a small harbor full of small fishing boats. It is one of the busiest harbors in the world. Commerce, trade, money and 24 hour activity could describe Hong Kong. As my friend said, Hong Kong has speed but lacks direction. There is just about nothing you cannot buy in Hong Kong. Probably the food there is the best in the world. People look healthy and busy, but you can sense anxiety in the air.
Hong Kong will soon fall into the hands of Mainland China. Many are leaving Hong Kong for Australia, Canada and the U.S.A. Democracy is being born. Hong Kong cannot grow except upwards, so there is a great deal of building of skyscrapers.
I visited the China Research Center and saw Jonathan Cho’s and MTW missionary, Jim Stewart’s ministry. I preached to a Mandarin congregation, and a Cantonese interpreter translated the message. Ten conversions were registered. The leader insisted on giving me 100 H.K. dollars, which I accepted as a gift only to frame it as a memory of their appreciation and love for my ministry. This was the largest Mandarin congregation in Hong Kong.
The visit to Hong Kong was very educational and I learned a lot about what the Lord is doing in Asia.
My visit to the peoples’ Republic of China was possible thanks to the invitation of Dr. and Mrs. James Goering, who is the senior executive of the World Bank in China in charge of a 6 billion dollar agricultural project. Some first impressions: The airport reminded me of the Ayacucho airport. There was a traffic light in the airport. Leading towards the city was a large avenue with newly planted trees at both sides of the road. That seems to be a general pattern even in the countryside and in the small towns.
No matter where you are from, if you are not Chinese you are highly visible in China. The “rush hour” is unique – tens of thousands of bicycles all over China.
Most of the foreign diplomats live in the International Community, which is made up of apartment buildings with Chinese Red Guards at each gate. The elevators are operated by people and monitored by 24-hour TV monitors. All of this shows the lack of trust in foreigners.
We had a very good home Bible study the first night I was there. I spoke later to the International Fellowship, which is equivalent to an English-speaking community church for foreigners in other countries. I used the same pulpit where Billy Graham preached not long before I arrived there.
I spoke at a meeting in a private home for Latin American graduate students. Two medical doctors, one from Mexico and one from Ecuador, accepted the Lord as their Savior (Goering’s home).
On Sunday there was a picnic with the International Fellowship. Six chartered buses traveled to the Ming Dynasty Tombs, where I answered many questions relating to Marxism and Christianity; and we discussed the possibility of a National prayer breakfast in Beijing.
On Sunday evening we had a dinner in Ritan Park, celebrating the “moon festival”, where I, again, had the opportunity of answering more questions on how to reach Marxists. They urged me to write a book on that subject.
I visited Mao Tse Tung’s tomb and saw his body (along with 100,000 other daily visitors) and saw Mao as dead as a rusty door nail. Yet, he is like God to millions. I sure was grateful not to be counted among those who put their trust in Mao, but rather I have a living Savior whose tomb is empty.
As I saw the great People’s Republic of China, their vast numbers and ancient culture, I was overwhelmed by the quantity (over 1 billion). I could no help seeing that they also bear the image of the living God and that they have been created with a purpose – even if it would be only for testing the Christians. I am deeply concerned about the future of China and the world. Some of my views on the world’s population, the world’s resources and the future problems of the world have changed. Humanity will face problems that are beyond our capacity to solve by ourselves. The Lord seems to be driving us all “to the end of our ropes”, which for some will be total hopelessness and despair bringing them to the end of themselves, but for us it should be only the joyful finding of His hands at the end of our rope.
This trip has given me a new sense of humility, but has, at the same time, developed in me a realistic view of the role of the individual in world history.
For one thing, I am thankful to God for allowing me to use my Marxist background for His glory. He has given me a reason to rejoice in my shameful past. Now I see clearly as part of His designed plan for me from even before the foundation of the world.
As I look back on my visit to China, I can’t help but notice the sovereignty of God in action in that… Mao Tse Tung sent his ideology to Peru to my hometown, and my mind was captured by it for ten years – to the point of radicalism and fanaticism. Then, Jesus sends His Gospel to rescue me and transform me into His servant. Then he sends me to China, where, in a very small way, my task was to tear apart Mao’s work through the preaching of the Gospel. Chairman Mao must turn in his grave when he sees how the money that China invests to bring third world country scholars to China to further their education and indoctrination in Marxism is ending up in the evangelization of their souls. That has been the task of the International Fellowship of Beijing.
It should be noted that China does not have the kind of entertainment that is common to the West. Sports and alcohol are the only refuge of many internationals who are struggling o learn a very difficult language and are lonely and homesick because they are so far from home. The week that I arrived there, a British lady committed suicide by jumping from the top of a building, and the week before some other international had put an end to his life.
The ministry to internationals is an urgent need in Beijing especially – but it is in the U.S. as well. A person who is willing to leave his geography and his own language and culture is open and he seeks to adapt himself to a new language, new geography and a new way of thinking, whether this is consciously or unconsciously; and this makes him vulnerable to a new ideology. What better time than that to influence him with the gospel!
From my investigations I have been able to find that there is a great deal of openness to the West among the old and new generations. Evidences of this would be: The golf tournament that the Prime Minister of China had with some Christians from the United States.
University students are saying, “give us 15 years and we will give you a new China apart from communism.” – Private enterprise is being encouraged. An example of this is the street market, where Chinese sell things more cheaply and of better quality than in the official stores (duck and goose down jackets, silks, crafts, etc.), which is a great tourist attraction. – There is a Kentucky Fried Chicken right across from Chairman Mao’s tomb. – Mac Donald’s Hamburgers was established but was temporarily closed for lack of beef. When China’s beef production increases, Mac Donald’s will return. – Even though the Chinese fly to Moscow over Siberia they prefer the modern Boeing 767 jets instead of the Russian Aeroflot planes. – The tourist traps are not as tightly controlled as in Russia.
From what I have been able to conclude, there is the possibility of a national prayer breakfast in Beijing within the next two years, if things go as planned. The Americans there are very much interested in that idea and have been thinking about it for a while. If the Lord should lead and the Mission would allow me, I would be very happy to give them a hand.
As exciting as everything may have been there, one thing stands tall in my memory as the highlight of my trip to China. That is the visit to Cidolfa Chung (not her real name) whom I call “my little woman of China”. She is about eighty years old, a skinny, toothless lady with the energy of a 16-year-old girl, who is a real underground soldier of the Lord. During Mao Tse Tung’s regime, she suffered persecution, though she was a medical doctor of some influence. She is a key individual in the distribution in China of Bibles and literature from the West.
One Sunday night after much prayer a dear Christian friend cautiously led me to Mrs. Chung’s Little place of operations. As we moved through the dark streets of Beijing, around corners and through alleys, frequently checking to see if anyone followed, we finally entered a dark, narrow alley where, literally, I had to feel the way with my hands, moving sideways at times until we reached a door.
As we entered, what I saw will remain in my mind as long as I live. In the dim light, I could see Bibles, hymn books and Christian literature stacked in every available spot of that small room which served as her living room, dining room and kitchen. There I found Mrs. Chung over a short wave radio, a big towel partially covering her head while the other part covered the radio. When I asked what she was doing, she answered in perfect English, “I am listening to God’s message over Tran’s World Radio to feed my soul”.
What followed that encounter was a sweet time of prayer and fellowship with a woman who reminded me of my godly grandmother who just recently died. There was such joy that my strength was renewed and my faith was encouraged, and I felt proud of the heroic faith that is ours. My stay there was brief, but when we parted it was as though I was leaving behind a member of my own family, and a piece of my heart remained behind in China. Now I can truly say as a word of testimony… The Lord will never be without a witness!
As soon as I arrived in Moscow, I wanted to leave. Perhaps it was the impression of the cold, impersonal Russian airport and the suspicious custom’s officers, or maybe it was the long wait that a few of us had to endure to get our luggage, or perhaps it was the sense of worthlessness of human life that you seem to breath in the air, or it may have been the not-so-funny experience we had when almost an hour inside Russian air space over Siberia when a military plane pulled along side of our Chinese commercial plane. Causing us to detour a bit to the left… which made me think that maybe we were over a sensitive area. That combined with the fresh memory of the Korean Airline KAL 007 that was shot down by a Russian MIG over Sakhalin Islands, assured me that there is no such thing as human rights as we know it in the free world. Though I did not panic nor did my knuckles turn white, nor did my palms sweat, yet in the midst of the peace that comes from above, I felt offended by the experience.
Once in Moscow, with a good night’s rest – and later after a bowl of delicious hot soup prepared by a sweet Christian lady and a warm fellowship with a new-found brother, my outlook changed drastically.
Before I left the U.S., Senator Armstrong and his wife had kindly provided me with names, addresses and phone numbers of Russian evangelicals in Moscow and Leningrad. Knowing that the telephone lines in the hotel are bugged and that the personnel that run the INTOURIST (official tour agency of Russia) are KGB agents in charge of controlling the movement of tourists in Russia, I did not want to endanger the work of these Christians nor put myself in a hot spot. So I took the subway, walked a lot, took a taxi, went back into the subway and finally made the telephone calls to establish contact and to make appointments. Here is where my worldly lessons learned from watching the movies Agent 007 and French connection served me in good stead.
Again it was a great joy for me to spend time with some great Christian leaders, to encourage them to test glasnost and perestroika and to consider holding national prayer breakfasts in Moscow. Though no enthusiastic welcome was given to the idea, they will be coming to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. on Feb. 2nd, at which time we will have dinner with some PCA people and some senators. I will show them around Washington the third and the fourth, and they will be speaking in the McLean PCA church on the fifth.
After this meeting, I was able to contact four university students, who took me under their wings and took me all over the place as I witnessed to them about the Lord. When we returned to my hotel in the evening, they insisted on paying the very expensive taxi fare for all five of us.
Needless to say, going to the Kremlin, to the Red Square and to Lenin’s tomb, as well as to the world famous Bolshoi theatre is the a b c of every visitor in Russia. It was very easy to establish contact and rapport with Russian young people. It was especially interesting to talk with taxi drivers from Armenia about anything and everything.
One day I took off to Zagorsk, and once there, I had my little “great escape” to walk by myself to the out skirts of the city. I was impressed by the faith of the Old Russian Orthodox Christians in a church service that I was able to find there that day. The next day I surveyed Moscow as much as I could. I visited the stores for tourists, the hotels for tourists and some stores for Russians as well as some embassies. Though I did not study the language before I went, I could survive with a very limited vocabulary and the English that many Russians know very well.
When I left, I felt that the time had been too short for such a great country. Nevertheless, it was a happy experience to arrive in Frankfort and board PANAM’S Boeing 747 U.S. bound.
In the plane I surprised myself by testifying to some American soldiers and later to some businessmen and then to some tourists about the Lord. It was as though I wanted to make use of my freedom of speech more than ever before. I fell in love with freedom again. Once in Washington’s Dulles International Airport, I wanted to kiss the ground -- not like the Pope does, but more like the student who was rescued from Granada.
As Coronel James Irwin (the Astronaut who went to the moon on APOLLO 15), who visited us in Chile, said, “If you are on the moon, you don’t look down to see the earth. If you look down, you will only see your boots. The earth is up in the sky. In the blackness of the universe you will see a beautiful blue marble. There she is -- small, lonely, beautiful and fragile. The sky of the moon is black; ours is blue. There, in the blackness of an infinite universe, is our planet hanging like a christmas ornament in the space”.
And having gone around the world, seeing the earth with the eyes Astronaut James Irwin, I said, “Our planet is like a small, crowded boat traveling in the ocean of this life, and I see among its passengers a great big heavy Mama, which is China. When she moves, we will feel it and fear. Also I see a clumsy, big Uncle; namely, Russia, and anyone who is clumsy is unpredictable and creates anxiety. And I see a Helmsman holding the steering, who is the USA and who, as the leader is trying to control direction and destiny. Furthermore, I see the rest of the human family of nations rowing every which way -- each in his own direction.
In the midst of this hopeless picture I see, I hear and I feel the gracious wind of the Sovereignty of God blowing gently and carrying this boat to the port of the Second Coming. It is then and only then when courage; purpose and life itself begin to make sense.
Therefore, in the same breath, boldly, but in true humility; I recommend that China and Russia be targeted for the Lord.
China has been experiencing its own Glasnost and Perestroika much before Russia began with it, and it is succeeding faster than Russia.
Immediate step: To send SIMA workers to teach English in the University of Beijing and to work with international students in that country.
Short-term Goal: To form and encourage teams of Chinese Christians from Hong Kong, who will become citizens of Mainland China to evangelize China from within.
Short term Goal: To send more missionaries to Hong Kong, so that when the “Joining and Receiving” of Hong Kong by Mainland China occurs, the missionaries might be included in the package deal with rightful access to Mainland China.
Long-term Goal: To send teams of church planters to the main cities such as Beijing, Canton, Shangai and Mongolia as opportunities open up.
Additional Recommendation: To prepare S. Koreans to assume their role in the evangelization of Asia; for they stand at the door of normalizing relationships with N. Korea and China.
The last, but not the least of the recommendations is in regard to the official church, even though it is pro-Government and once known as traitor to Christianity and suspect of the deaths of many Christians during the revolution, they should not be excluded from our attention as they have been by other Christian organizations as though they are a group that is beyond hope. When I worshiped with them on Sunday morning, the church was full, familiar hymns were sung, the 23rd Psalm was read, the Lord’s Prayer was prayed, the Bible was read – and to me that means that there is HOPE.
MTW’s strategy there should be that of going as servants. The most adequate word that I find is… INFILTRATION, a subtle entrance into every level of society. An example is Jim Hiskey from Washington D.C., a Christian sportsman who went to Beijing with the main purpose of playing golf with the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Zhao Ziyang. Mr. Ziyang later invited a group of Christian golfers for a tournament in Beijing. Among them was one of the supporters, Paul Holland, a PCA man.
Perhaps the most encouraging official statement from China comes in the words of the Premier of China, Li Peng, who was quoted in the New China News Agency as saying to Billy Graham, “China can never be prosperous and strong with only material development. It also needs spiritual forces.” This statement is a foothold for future missions in China.
Recommendations for Russia:
In making the following recommendations, I take the deliberate risk of being proven wrong and of making a fool of myself.
I strongly believe that General Secretary, Mikhail Gorvachev, is a different leader from any that Russia has ever known and that his Perestroika and Glasnost (reconstruction-openness), are genuine efforts to take Russia towards an irreversible situation; namely towards Capitalism. It is my conviction that the word, “capitalism” is too strong of a word and cannot be used at this time -- the reason being (among other reasons), to save face and not to generate internal enemies unnecessarily.
While I was in Moscow, there was a shake up in the Kremlin. The Red Square was closed off and I could see Limousines rushing in and out of the Kremlin. Even Shevardnadze had to cancel his U.N. meetings and return to Russia in a hurry.
The “top dogs” of the Old School were deposed and new, pro-Gorbachev men were put in their place. Deposed were Andrei Gromyko,(Mister niet) who, after formally nominating Gorbachev to be General Secretary three years ago, and having served six Soviet leaders over nearly 50 years, was moved down.
Anatoly Dobrynin, who was for 24 years the Soviet Ambassador to Washington, who was installed by Gorbachev as the party’s chief foreign affairs adviser and seemed to be safe in his job, was retired – possibly for having been too closely associated with Gromyko in foreign affairs.
The same fate befell Yegor Ligachev, who was once a secure number two in Politburo ranking. Viktor Chebrikov was moved from chief of the KGB to become overseer of legal reforms.
The last anniversary of the revolution displayed in the Red Square showed who is the number two and three men in the Kremlin. All of this indicates that Secretary Gorbachev is very much in control.
Because of what is mentioned above, I don’t know how much longer Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev can push his program without a major “reaction” from the die hards and especially from the Stalinists, against whom he has clear stand. Nor do I know how much his life may be in danger.
But one thing I know – is that Glasnost is a real, legal crack in the door. We must take Gorbachev at his word and move and plan accordingly. Therefore, I suggest that follow-up be made with key contacts in Moscow, by promoting a meeting of P.C.A. and M.T.W. leaders with Rev. Alexei Bochco, top leader of the official Evangelical Movement in Russia, who will be coming to Washington the 2nd of February. I will organize a dinner meeting for Senator Armstrong and myself with him. I had the privilege of visiting with him while in Moscow, and was invited to eat in his headquarters. He expressed appreciation for the visit with some personal gifts and felt free to ask me for some book of Dr. Cho from Korea. As I talked to him about the Korean church he was excited and wanted to know more about it. Several weeks ago I was able to send six books with a friend who was going to Moscow.
B. Rev. A. Bitchcov and company should be offered our services in his efforts to serve the Lord in Russia.
C. A summer team should be organized and sent to Moscow and Leningrad. This team should be made up of people who are highly committed, proven hard workers, evangelists, disciplers, musicians of both sexes, whose objective should be to create and lock in an ongoing relationship with the Russian churches.
D. Many Leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church are eagerly awaiting the arrival of 1 million Bibles from the West because the Soviet Union has lifted import restrictions on the Bible. The new rules now allow Bibles and Gospels to be sent from abroad and received for personal use. MTW could have part in the ministry of taking or sending Bibles to Russia.
E. Should we succeed in sending a summer team, we should immediately seek to send SIMA workers.
F. Then we should aim to send career missionaries.
G. We should also be prepared to accommodate Russian students in our colleges and seminaries.
H. We should study the possibilities of a limited program for exchange students between our two countries.
Final words of Caution… thought the task is different and difficult to some degree, personally I sense that there is a breed of Missionaries out there in our churches who are looking for heroic and romantic challenges like this – who will come when the call is made “to get Russia and China for the Lord in our generation”. It will be a worthwhile challenge, especially suited for the very new soldier of the Lord or for the old veteran of many wars, who has proven himself and is qualified.
The candidates for a summer team should be mature Christians who are prepared for hardship and are able to endure the lack of Western commodities
Russia is a superpower with a third world economy. There is not even the equivalent of our 7-eleven stores around from which to acquire basic needs. We need to act quickly, for we do not know if there will be another such opportunity should something happen to Gorbachev. This is also the feeling of Sakharov and of Rev. Joseph Ton of Romania, who visited McLean Ch. recently.
The Russian language is not that difficult to learn; at least not he spoken part.
University young people are very open to talking about ideas and about the West.
Russians have a new problem. They do not know what to do with their freedom. They need leadership. They are not prepared – just as America is not prepared to cope with the new Russia.
Obviously, the Lord is offering us a crack in the door, and I would like to encourage the PCA and MTW to consider prayerfully keeping a foot in the door. It would be wise to send a team of experts to survey the land.