Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in. In today’s program, Tom begins a two-part series with guest, Jiovanne Del Cristo. Here’s TBC Executive Director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Today on our program and next week, as well, I welcome back to the program Jiovanne Del Cristo. He ministers at the Living Word [Church], which is a Bible-centered bilingual church in Miami, Florida.
Jio, thanks for joining me on Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Jio: Thank you so much for the invitation, and it’s a pleasure and privilege to be back on with you.
Tom: You know, I’m blessed to have Jio on today and next week, but I’m especially excited that he’ll be speaking at the TBC conference in the - well, the last weekend in August. And I’m hoping that we still have some snow on our Cascade Mountains so Jio can - well, maybe have his picture taken building a snowman to send back to his family sweltering in the Miami heat.
Well, Jio, what’s your experience with building a snowman, or maybe even lying in the snow making an angel, as we used to do as kids?
Jio: Absolutely none. I would hope that this being my first visit to Oregon and your neck of the woods I would be able to experience that, and then also send back pictures via text message to my wife and family, and include in that text: “I got to experience snow and you haven’t yet.” So…
Tom: Right! Yeah, but then the burden is on you to take them to a place where that can happen.
Jio: That’s true, that’s true.
Tom: Yeah. Well, Jio, tell our listeners how and to whom you minister to at the Living Word [Church], also known as - now, you can jump all over me; let’s see how I pronounce this - Iglesia Palabra Viva.
Jio: Excellent! Now you are an honorary Hispanic.
Tom: Okay, that may be given my inability…you know, all my kids do speak - they speak Spanish. As a matter of fact, my oldest daughter taught Spanish here in Oregon in a middle school, and… But they didn’t get it from me. Their mom is more adept at that.
So, Jio…well, again, tell our listeners how and to whom you minister.
Jio: Well, because of the grace of the Lord, I’ve been able to minister serving in the capacity as youth pastor for about the last six or seven years as the youth pastor of the local church here, Living Word Church. And I’ve been doing youth ministry work for some time now, preaching specifically and teaching specifically high school and university kids for a while now. And it’s definitely been a learning experience that is completely different than ministering to an adult crowd, and one that I certainly cherish. And probably I have - I would daresay my heart inclines toward the youth, because being what they are (the future), and much of what the activity, secular activity, that centers around the indoctrination of the youth, I guess the efforts have led me - and, you know, the Lord has done so - to minister to the youth in particular.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now, you minister, as I mentioned earlier, in a bilingual church mostly to Hispanics, and in a major metropolitan city, Miami. Yet, Jio, as we’ve talked over the years, the troublesome issues for the most part, they don’t seem to be much different than one would find among Christians throughout the rest of our country, no matter the size of the church. But are there biblical issues that are, in your view, unique to Hispanic believers? And if so, what are they?
Jio: No, not at all. Not at all. I see the exact same pattern is being repeated in the Hispanic churches. The interesting thing is there seems to also be a generation gap between the youth and the adults, because most of the adults that transplanted themselves from other third world countries and came here, their children have been raised here, so their first language is English. And that’s what we minister to them, too, and that’s what I’m very familiar with and most comfortable with, because I was born and raised in this country. I’m an American.
So having said all of that, I see the generational gap, and that many of the parents that, when they come here legally or illegally, whatever the means, many of them have not adopted the culture and choose not to assimilate or whatnot; and they pretty much stick amongst themselves and their own social groups and whatnot. It’s very different - you’ll see that with the youth. The youth, they tend to assimilate a little bit more than their parents, and they’ll adopt the American culture a lot easier.
But as it pertains to ecclesiastical issues, Tom, it’s the same exact thing that I have seen in the Anglo Saxon world. I’m talking about the apostolic movement, the signs and wonders - it’s the exact same thing. As a matter of act, I would daresay that it is a direct copy. You’ll see that most of the - what I call them “charlatans,” the demagogues, the false teachers and preachers, they will copy exactly the way of dressing, the way of speaking, the way to conduct their services that their English counterparts will do, and they will direct their services in that way. And it also has many congregants flocking to those seeker-friendly churches. So there isn’t a demarcated difference between the Anglo Saxon world and the Hispanic world.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now, we’re going to talk about this later probably in more detail, but let’s take those who - the older generation. Is there much of a Catholic influence there?
Jio: There is. There is much of a Catholic influence, although the recent Pew Research Center study that was released, if I’m not mistaken, in May, it shed some light onto what is happening with the ranks of Catholics: that more and more of them are leaning towards evangelical churches, and there is a lot of that going on.
And as we were speaking before, and we’ve had private conversations about this, it seems to me that it isn’t a coincidence then that the Vatican would choose a person such as Pope Francis and to nominate him the people’s pope so that he would be this charismatic individual to bring people back into the fold. And certainly there is a movement of that happening, but also there is recalcitrant atheism which is creeping itself into the church now. That is also a place of concern for people like myself, because I see that that seems to be the most influential with the younger generation, and there is some of that, a semblance of that, with the older generation, also.
But most of them, they do - they pretty much have…are ex-Catholics, and then they begin to congregate in evangelical churches.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now, for the other side, the young people, those that you minister to…and, Jio, you know where my heart is for young people. I’ve mentioned over and over again on our programs that I have five children. They’re in their mid-30s to mid-20s…
Jio: You’re battle-tested then!
Tom: Yeah, that’s true, except for this, and this is by the grace of God you know, I have…one of my favorite verses is 3 John 4: “I have no greater joy than to see my children walking in the truth.” So I’m totally blessed by that. But I see them among their peers, I see them - two of my children are involved in ministry to young people, and I see what they have to deal with, so it’s a real concern for me.
But let’s talk about your issues with your young people. I know you said not much different than the Anglos, okay, but what about that?
Jio: Okay, for example, if we were to - if you were to ask me in a nutshell what’s the difference between the adults and the youth, I see a generational gap that has occurred, and for many parents, they worry about it, but they don’t seem to be able to pinpoint what the exact problem is. Therefore they would be able to make the corrections, and that is because many of the parents…and again, I see it commensurate with what is happening in the Anglo Saxon world is that they don’t seem to see that we are living in an entertainment-guided or entertainment-centric generation. We’re speaking about Hollywood, which I know that you participated in your path, and you’ve spoken at length about that, so you know how it is in Hollywood and whatnot. And I see that the youth, they are totally given to the sentimentalist and also to the experienced - what I would call the “virtual-based” generation. Everything is videos, everything is the euphoric experience of seeing something new on the screen and whatnot, and this is completely different from past generations where maybe past generations were more inclined toward the text. And that’s where I see that, for example, Christianity in the past - I would daresay 20-30 years ago - they were more given to being more faithful to the biblical text vs. now, if something is not given to the youth in the manner that they have become accustomed to, which is virtual, they will not digest it through and through.
Nonetheless, there is a small remnant of young persons that I find that they do still allude to the text to read what it has to say, and they adopt it - slowly but surely they adopt it in their lives, and that is certainly a cause for optimism for myself and for many other youth pastors in general. So I do see that, and what I try to do more than anything else is to try to have the young persons, the millennials in particular, disconnect from what this generation is telling them, informing them how they should be, how they should conduct themselves. And among that is exactly what I had mentioned earlier: that they should disconnect themselves from the virtual world that is being thrust upon them, and to live a life of Christianity based on what they find in the Scriptures, and they will find truth in that, they will find a much simpler living, but a substantive living compared to all of this virtual reality, as it seems. But it’s all cloaked by secularism and also by what I call just the utter despondency. And I see that, and there’s a source for optimism that I see in many young persons where they seem to be using technology… It’s like I like to say to them - I guess I could summarize it best: Do not be enslaved to technology. You enslave technology. Use technology for your advantage, but never be enslaved to technology as many persons have become enslaved to it.
Tom: Mm-hmm. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m encouraged - I do see, whether we call it a remnant or not, there are young people that have a heart for it. But it’s like swimming up Niagara Falls for many of them, because they’ve been overwhelmed… You know, you mentioned Hollywood: they’ve been overwhelmed by entertainment, even the things that many young people are drawn to…music! I mean, music is - I would say it’s the number one attraction even for those who would not just profess to be Christians, but for those who are Christians.
Now, Jio, with regard to - I want to say “who’s at fault here,” and I don’t want to come off like, “Let’s play the blame game.” But nevertheless, from my perspective as somebody who came out of Roman Catholicism, and then not just observing trends in the evangelical church for more than almost four decades, I have to lay it on parents, evangelical parents, who have basically turned their children over to the church as a babysitting - call it a spiritual babysitting operation, and what do they get? They got entertainment. Do you see that as a source of the problem that our kids now have to deal with?
Jio: I am glad you asked that particular question, because it brings to mind every single Wednesday night when we conduct our youth meetings. On the way to church from my abode, we have to pass by a satellite church of Ed Young’s Fellowship Church, and they also seem to conduct their - and I’m going to say this flippantly - “youth services” on the outsides of that satellite church here in Miami, Florida. And, Tom, it utterly disappoints me and it saddens me at the same time. It’s certainly disturbing to see what they’re doing, because it is purely entertainment. They have huge television screens, they’re playing basketball outside…and then the way that they come dressed to church is also something of a concern for me, because along with that, I see the implications of losing respect for not only the Christian message, not only Christianity, the gospel itself. If we’re going to behave as Christians, we should do so in every single aspect of our lives.
And for example, I’ve seen how many of the youth would arrive at church, and that tells me something. That tells me that many of the parents are not giving importance to serving the Lord in the proper manner to representing what we say we represent as being salt and light in the earth. And then when you see what it is that they’re giving to them in this youth group - again, it’s a quasi-youth group. It’s not a youth group; what they’re doing is they’re entertaining them for three or four hours, and they’re not getting anything of substance.
So we try to counteract that in LWYM, Living Word Youth Ministries. We try to counteract that as much as we can. I always inform the young persons, “When you come to these services, you will not bring your cell phones. You will come with - I want to see you with the Bible, the paged Bible. Do not arrive with your tablets, do not arrive with your cell phones. That does not count for me as a Bible. I want you to disconnect from that world when we’re here. We’re going to engage in thoughtful deliberation and consideration of the Word of God.”
And certainly at the beginning, Tom, there was certainly some remonstration by many of the youth, because it’s almost like you’re shocking their system! This is what they know from the beginning. But I would encourage other youth pastors that listen to this programming: Do not become discouraged. Slowly but surely we began to see a change in many of the attendees, and it was almost an amazing transformation, where now I even issue them a challenge. I’ll say to them, “Do not watch any TV. No Netflix for a week, and just dedicate yourself to reading the Bible foremost, and read some of the other books [that I’ll recommend to them],” and I receive the testimonies as they…
“Jio,” they’ll tell me, “Jio, this was a wonderful experiment. I’m going to continue doing this in this fashion,” because that’s what the Bible does. It’s God’s inspired Word. It teaches you truth, and once you get a taste of that, and once you see that the youth themselves taste it, they want more. That’s what the Word of God will do.
Tom: Yeah. You know, it was a youth pastor who said to me one time, “Well, Tom, you know, what brings them in keeps them in,” okay? In other words, if you bring them in by the Word of God, that’s, as you’ve been describing - not for everyone, but certainly that’s, by the grace of God, that’s going to capture their hearts. But if you bring them in with entertainment, now you’ve got another problem, because you’ve got to keep upping the ante. You have to keep up with the world, and the church is never going to do that. You know…
Jio: Exactly. If I could interject something, Tom, I’m sorry to interrupt you. I think this is also important: many parents have come to this conclusion, [unintelligible] and you alluded to it earlier - they say, “I’m going to take my child to Sunday school. That will be his rearing.” That is a fallacy; that is a mistake. God has entrusted parents to educate and to discipline and admonish their children in the discipline, in the admonition of the Lord. That is what we read in the Bible (Colossians 3, Ephesians 6, for example). They are your responsibility. The best that any youth group can do, any local institution called the church can do, is be an aid to that education and that rearing of those children. It should not be the primary source, because you the parent are the one that is supposed to educate and rear your children in the discipline and admonition of the Lord, and then when circumstances happen and the children begin to make mistakes and commit errors, and they ask themselves, “What happened?” they are very swift to blame the church.
And then I sat down with many of these parents, and I’ve asked them, “Well, how many hours of television did you dedicate for yourself instead of sitting down with your children at the dinner table and speak to them about biblical truths?” And then you see their heads slouch a little bit, because they finally came to the realization: “Yeah, I do have some fault in this.”
Tom: Yeah. And, if we’re talking about the family, it has to begin with the head of the family, the man of the house.
Tom: At the risk of repeating something too many times, you know, when I speak to men’s retreats, at some point during that time I say, “You know, I know men who will have no problem picking up a baseball bat to defend their wife, their children, if somebody breaks into their home. But sadly, I know too few men who will pick up the sword of the Spirit to protect their wife, their children.” I mean, that’s really where it has to start. And certainly, you know, there are certainly moms who - you know, single parents that have that responsibility, as well. But we also know from the Scripture that - I’m thinking about the grandmother and mother of Timothy.
Tom: Obviously they were commended for raising Timothy in the fear and admonition of the Lord. So…
Tom: But what about that? In your experience…now, look, I have to say this: if there’s a calling out there that’s tougher than a youth pastor, I don’t know what it is! You know? I mean, seriously, it’s an incredible - not just a responsibility, but the calling has to be there, and it’s a difficult calling. But it’s going to be by the grace of God that you’re going to be effective, and I know you have by God’s grace, as well.
But what about the issue regarding the man being the spiritual head of the home?
Jio: Absolutely. You know, I’ve seen - let me say it from this vantage point: every single Father’s Day, whenever we celebrate Father’s Day here (which is an annual occasion, of course), it got to a point where many congregants would arrive on Father’s Day, and they turned Father’s Day, which is supposed to be a celebration of fathers that did stay and rear their children appropriately, into father bashing. And my father (being the pastor of the church) and I, we had a conversation about this, and we said, “This has to stop, because this is adding to the deterioration of the lack of fatherhood in our culture. So let’s get back to that place, that time, where we celebrated the fathers that stayed, and those that do stay and rear their children appropriately.”
So we’ve made it a point, and that’s something that I’ve also touched on as it pertains to the youth group and also to the independent organization we’ve started - Red Letters Dialogues - we’ve tried to deal with that issue of masculinity and manhood as it pertains to the Christian family household. I think that if we return to the Scriptures and we see what the pattern is firstly in Christ, of course - He is the foundation of our faith - and also other men of God, that it would be very clear for us what the pattern is to be that head of the household and to guide the family to greener pastures - spiritual greener pastures.
It’s funny, because the more and more I hear many, for example, radical feminists speak about men and whatnot, they deride them. And they - for example, they say, “Christianity is so patriarchal,” and they say that in such a demeaning way. But guess what? The responsibility of the head of the household to lead that household not only in material sustenance and to provide food and shelter for his family but also to be the spiritual leader, is a very very difficult one, and one that should not be trivialized, which is happening with much frequency in this day and age.
So aside from giving a very dare I say summarized view of what men should do in order to return to that point where they are the spiritual heads of their households (as they should be) is return to the Scriptures: look at the guide, look at the models for what it is to be a godly man.
Of course, like I said before, Jesus Christ, the foundation of our faith, look at the way He comports Himself whilst He’s on earth. And then you look at other men like Paul, like Peter, and all these other men, and you begin to see a pattern emerge from that, and you follow that, and trust me, you will be well-set on your way to being what we will call an appropriate Christian father.
Tom: Mm-hmm. And it’s not all that difficult, but I think there are some things out there maybe men are intimidated by: “Well, wait a minute, I really don’t know the Scripture. I really don’t - that’s why I have to turn them over to you, Jio, as the youth pastor,” or the pastor, your dad. But it’s not that difficult! You know, Jesus said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and you don’t do the things that I say?” Well, part of the problem is that they’re not reading the Word. You know, you indicated that earlier.
It’s…you know, you start there, and if you know this is what the Lord wants, and you want to please Him, fine. You’re not going to have it all under control from the beginning, or have the full understanding from the beginning, but you start. And because this is the right thing to do, the Holy Spirit will enable the man to do that. But you’ve got to do it. That’s the man’s responsibility before the Lord and his family. And if you could start with them young, you can learn with them. You’re obviously teaching them, but you’re learning as you go along.
And so our encouragement - I know your encouragement, Jio, as well - is for the man to take up that position before the Lord, and the Lord will enable him to do it.
Jio: Absolutely, and that’s a part of removing one’s self from the secular ideology and the secular age that we are living in and seeing things through the Bible’s lens, if you will.
And again, I would encourage men from all over to, again, take a second look at what the Scriptures have to say, how these men comported…
And don’t listen to all of the cackling talking heads that we have amongst us who are constantly deriding men and accusing us of being sexist, this, that, and the other thing. Guess what? The statistics - well, firstly the Bible, but the statistics also showcase that when a man is heading that household and doing it appropriately, that household will prevail [and] will be successful not only in the immediate family structure and the rearing of that, but will be successful in their characteristics and also nurturing what I would call the “Christian nature,” the Christian characteristics, the nature, the true nature, of a true Christian.
Tom: Right. Now, Jio, just a personal example, and I’m almost reluctant to do this, but Peggy and I, my wife and I, we didn’t do everything right, but we tried to do what pleased the Lord in our time with our five young children then, and today we’re reaping the fruit of that. I mean, it’s a joy! They minister to us, and so I put that out there for young fathers, okay? You’ve got to get started; you’ve got to do it, because if the Lord tarries, you’re going to be totally blessed not just by your wife, but certainly by your children.
And, you know, I’ve seen some families that that aspect is like a spiritual train wreck, and it grieves me. It’s tragic; it breaks my heart. But it doesn’t have to be, and that’s the point we’re trying to make here, folks.
Now, my guest is Jio Del Cristo, and, Jio, we’re about out of time on this segment, but give me your website, especially the youth - you mentioned your youth ministry. Give us the website there.
Jio: Okay, we started an independent ministry specifically for youth and anyone that wants to reach out to them. It’s called Red Letters Dialogues - it’s plural - redlettersdialogues.com. I’m constantly posting articles, and we also have a weekly podcast where my father and I engage in conversation about the issues that are important for the church to engage in, and also families. And also on a weekly basis I take time off to record short videos for those that are not very inclined toward the text, shall we say, yet - that they view these things, for example, on Youtube, and we produce a series of Youtube videos to reach out to this modern generation. So again, it’s redlettersdialogues.com.
Tom: Very good. So, Jio, I look forward to next week, and we’ll pick up from where we left off. So thank you, brother.
Jio: Thank you.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad you could be here, and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.