Since 2015, the Academia Cristo website, academiacristo.com, has been providing Bible classes, worship services, training for church planters, and other tools for Spanish speakers to study God’s Word. The program also includes a phone app and a social media presence, making it easy for Academia Cristo users to share the tool with others. This story highlights how one believer used Academia Cristo to share the gospel with his brother—even though they are separated by 1,500 miles.
In 2002, a job opportunity took Luis “Lucho” Herrera from his home in Bogotá, Colombia, to Florida. When he and his wife, Adriana, were looking for a religious school for their son, they enrolled him at Divine Savior Lutheran Academy in Doral. At the school orientation meeting, Pastor Carl Leyrer invited the parents to Bible class. At Adriana’s urging, they enrolled, and that experience changed Lucho’s life.
Lucho’s Catholic upbringing had emphasized sin and guilt and salvation by works—but not grace. “Once I started studying God’s Word, I found the truth,” he says. “Only Christ—by what he did—is the way to heaven. My motivation became love, not guilt. My thinking switched 180 degrees.”
Lucho soon began taking multiple Bible classes through Academia Cristo. Armed with the gospel, he couldn’t wait to share with the people he loved most—his family back in Colombia. He initially bought Bibles for them, but he wanted to do more. He kept thinking about the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus, and how he needed to share God’s Word with his family while there was still time.
“That parable struck me really, really hard,” he admits. “The rich man was in hell, and I hadn’t done anything to share the truth with my family so they wouldn’t end up like the rich man. I had the tools. I was now challenged to follow Jesus’ mandate to look for more souls.”
One of the tools that Lucho used was the Academia Cristo phone app. He sent the app to his brother, Camilo, asking Camilo to install it on their mother’s phone. In the process, Camilo became intrigued. He and Lucho started talking about the Bible, often for hours. “What Camilo knew about the Bible was what someone else had interpreted, but not actually what the Bible said,” recalls Lucho. So he encouraged Camilo to install the app on his own phone and start taking Bible classes.
Camilo did just that, leading him down the path to a clearer understanding of sin and grace and Jesus’ sacrifice to remove guilt. He enrolled in live classes through Academia Cristo, eagerly studying God’s Word.
After being further taught and nurtured by several local pastors, Camilo was confirmed and is now sharing the gospel with his family and friends. He also is working with church leaders to help start a church in Bogotá. “Everyone is a sinner, but God sent Jesus to save us,” he says. “I found hope.”
Camilo becomes emotional when talking about his brother sharing the gospel with him: “I want to thank my older brother, Lucho. He knocked and knocked and helped bring me out of the darkness. Before, my soul was weighted as a rock. Now my soul is light like a feather.” Camilo also is deeply grateful to Academia Cristo for reaching out to the lost sheep of Latin America.
Through their experience, the Herrera brothers stress the importance of relationships—you can’t just send people the Academia Cristo tool and walk away. “You have to put effort in,” says Lucho. Like any relationship, the more time you spend the better it gets.
Featured image above shows Academia Cristo student Camilo Herrera (middle) from Bogotá, Colombia. Camilo now gathers an independent group in his restaurant on Sundays and is training to become a church planter. WELS Missionary Matt Behmer is pictured on the far right.
Volume 107, Number 12
Issue: December 2020