It was a couple of Sundays ago as we were leaving the church when we got the word. A friend of ours, one whom we had worked closely with in Argentina, had died suddenly of a heart attack. His name was Oscar Chapo. He was pastor of a small church in a small town in one of the poorer provinces in the country. He was not famous. He did not hold a degree from seminary. Chances are without reading his name above; you would not know him.
He had something more than all the things that he lacked. He was faithful, and he was beloved by the people and community whom he served as a pastor. He died doing what he loved: telling children about Jesus in a mission church that his church had planted. That was how I knew him. We had worked together in planting churches in northern Argentina. I would train church planters, and his church cooperated with us in training and planting churches.
Though I was the supposed expert, I learned so much from him, particularly about being a servant leader. He did lead by “lording it over others” or by intimidation. The only time I heard speak critically was of a leader at another church whose leadership style had caused church members to follow out of fear. Oscar was an encourager, not the kind that makes you feel shame for not doing something. He saw your gifts and abilities and made you feel like you could do more as long as you did so with God’s power. As a colleague said, when Oscar prayed, it was as if he could look into your heart and soul and see your greatest need and pray precisely.
As the day passed those two Sundays ago, I thanked God that He had brought my path to intersect with Oscar’s path. I wondered how God could bring someone from a small town in Georgia to meet someone from a small town in Argentina.
In the evening service at our church that night, we celebrated the Lord’s Supper. As I looked at the grape juice in the small cup in my hand, I thought about the blood of Christ. I remembered his sacrifice for my sins. I remembered that the only thing that could have brought Oscar and me together was the blood of Christ. The blood of Jesus, His gospel, stirred my wife and me to leave our home country. The Good News moved Oscar to pastor a church and to plant churches in the small villages around his small town. The blood had brought us together as brothers. Jesus’ sacrifice is what enabled Oscar to step straight from serving the Lord into eternity to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” The blood is why we will see one another again someday.