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Ruben Berra, AiG's first Spanish speaker, is eager to reach Hispanic churches with the vital message of biblical authority.
Here he explains why he is so passionate about challenging the church with the foundational truths of Genesis.
Even though I had “religious” training when I was growing up, my life had a rocky start. My father left us when I was eight years old and we never heard anything from him again. Even though I never heard my mother speak ill of him, and though I do not remember any instance of my father hurting her or us (an older brother and a younger sister), his departure deeply hurt us.
At that time, I began “looking for God.” At age nine, I started reading the Bible and seeking God, but the local priests would always be upset about this and they prohibited me from reading the Bible. Their attitude, along with my belief that the Lord was not answering my prayers, caused increasing confusion about His existence, my existence and my relationship with Him. I became bitter against God and aggressive toward the world around me. Later on, while at college, I fell into different sins and started studying philosophy and psychology, which further separated me from God.
After I got my masters of science, I started serving as a consultant for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the federal and state Mexican government. As I traveled alone and developed business relationships, entertainment became an important part of my life. Because of my work with the government, I got a permit to carry a gun; and with that, my aggressiveness grew. I was in such a confused state that sometimes I feared I might lose my mind. At that time I didn’t know it—but I know now, it was the mercy and love of God that saved me and pulled me out of the quicksand I was in.
Even then, partly because of the religious teachings I had received about a “Supreme Being,” I realized that something was wrong in my life. I was hurting a lot of people, especially my wife, and I arrived at a desperate point of contemplating suicide.
While in a hotel at one of the Mexican beach resorts, after unsuccessfully trying to fill a void with worldly alternatives, I started to plan to take my life. In that deep depression I saw the corner of a blue book sticking out of the night div. “Something” pushed me to go and take it. It was a New Testament placed by Gideons International. I did not think it would hurt me to read a little bit of it, so I sat down and opened it. It fell open to John’s Gospel, and I started reading, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … in Him was life.”
Something happened right there. As I kept on reading, I started feeling peace and more peace. It was a beautiful feeling—like “the peace that passes all understanding.” After that time, something in me changed, though I was not yet a Christian.
Three months later, when I was 38, I met a young man at a Thanksgiving Day celebration. He asked me if I knew Jesus. Since “Jesus” is a common name in Spanish, I answered, “Jesus what? What is his last name?” “Christ … Jesus Christ,” he told me. Then I told him not to bother me with that. He was very stubborn. He followed me for three months! Every day he asked me, “Do you have time today to talk about Jesus?”
Finally one night he called my office and asked me the same question. I was upset and told him to meet me in a place I used to go. When we met, I abruptly asked him, “What do you want from me?” He answered, “To discuss the Bible with you.” When I saw his face and the peace in his eyes, I told him, “I don’t want to discuss the Bible. I have done that for years … I want to have peace. I am tired of living as I am.”
He told me to kneel and ask forgiveness. “Do you know what [wicked things] I have done?” I asked. He told me, “No, and I don’t care, but I know He will forgive you.” I did pray. It was 10:30 pm. I went straight home and asked my wife to forgive me and give me another chance. She did. That night I started my Christian journey.
Ten days after receiving Christ as my Lord and Savior, I became the secretary and one of the founders of the Gideons International Camp of Morelos, Mexico. I also began to translate materials for evangelism, Bible courses and conferences.
At this point in my life I was in agriculture. Three months after that life-changing day, something else happened that forever changed the course of my life. I lost my land, equipment and crops. In spite of it all, I had my best harvest. I reaped the Lord and my family.
In 1985, my wife and I heeded the Lord’s call to serve Him in Christian education. We had a great burden to spread the message of salvation by working with children and parents, giving talks and counseling to parents, and addressing family problems.
I found out in the process that my love for books, science and knowledge (I organized my own home “laboratory” at 11) was part of what God had in store for me. Since knowledge was my goal and my driving passion, when I came to Christ I found true knowledge: “That in Christ … are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
So I started to pour all of my resources (mental, physical and emotional) into the vision of developing a Christian school in Mexico from preschool up to a true university (having the Bible as the “spinal cord” of all subjects, as it once was, not a “diversity,” as college education is now). It would be a school for all backgrounds and social classes (which are very stratified in Mexico).
At the same time, the Lord opened doors to reach the scientific community in the area through conferences about Bible and science. It was then that I learned about Answers in Genesis, and I soon invited AiG to participate in one of my conferences. God made a way to have them help me in 2000.
Our Christian school was under attack because of its stand. The school couldn’t be registered in the government educational system (and therefore receive their approval) because we used the Bible and Christian materials. We needed to incorporate the “scientific” evolutionary evidence if we wanted to be recognized (which several families did, causing a great division with those who wanted to stick with the authority of Scripture).
When the board changed the school’s foundational philosophy, I left. I continued in Christian education, though, giving talks about the lies and consequences of accepting evolution in Christian education and distributing materials. I thank the Lord for the homeschooling associations, churches and some schools that I met during that time that shared the same vision.
It was also at that time that I was invited to come to the United States. My wife and I prayed for six months until the Lord confirmed that we should come (to tell you the truth, even though I obeyed Him (praise Him!), I disagreed with the Lord about this decision because I wanted to continue promoting Christian education through creationism). Little did I know that He would use that first step of faith to reveal the next step: to come to work for Answers in Genesis, which is a privilege and a great blessing from the Lord! I know I am definitely not here by coincidence!
In such a short time working here at AiG, I have already seen the hand of the Lord. On a recent trip to Bolivia, I remember a teacher who brought her students to talks I gave on creation. She was very skeptical, intelligent and antagonistic. After the first talk, she asked me about God, the Bible, creation, science, philosophy, etc. I thought I was going to present a doctoral thesis! For five days I spent time with them answering questions, praying for them and asking for wisdom from God. Praise God, He did a beautiful job among them! At the end of the convention, she stood up and declared the change in her paradigm and her new personal relation with God, giving Him thanks for having brought her there with her students. The students also mention that they wanted to have a Bible study to learn more about the Lord.
Recently I prayerfully answered an email from a mixed-up Christian from Argentina. Two days later, I heard back from him: “Wow, thank you, you completely destroyed my way of thinking. I need to rethink everything in this new perspective.” Praise God! Like him, there are many more we need to reach.
I believe the message of salvation from the beginning, from Genesis, is key. I believe that there is a lot of ignorance about the importance of Genesis within the Hispanic population. A great majority has been deceived by the lie of evolution. Thus I get excited seeing what the Lord is already doing.
I have given my life to studying creation and Genesis because I believe it is the most important tool today for evangelism and family counseling. Believing that you are a creation of God—or that you descended from goo—makes all the difference in your life … and in the lives of the people around you!