From Murderer to Church Planter

“A cry for new churches and discipleship in a troubled neighbourhood reached us and we decided to help,” explains Francois Rauch, Harvesters Director for South America. He is referring to Tucumán, the smallest (though most densely populated) province in Argentina.

Argentina faces long-standing human rights problems that include police abuse, poor prison conditions, endemic violence against women, difficulty accessing reproductive services, and obstacles keeping indigenous people from enjoying the rights afforded to them by Argentine and international law. Tucumán is no exception. The city is under siege by drug abuse, violence and witchcraft.

“As we walk the street of Trulala, Tucumán, Argentina I have an eery feeling that if it wasn’t for Daniel guiding us that we would perhaps not leave the tiny village alive,” Francois reflected on his recent trip to the South American nation.  “Aggressive young men stared us down on the dirty streets as we were on our way to a newly planted church in the area.”

His local guide was Daniel, a Harvesters pastor with a phenomenal story of transformation.


Daniel’s Story

Daniel was convicted of numerous murders and sentenced to many years in jail. However, inside he had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and his life completely turned around. From what seemed like the end of his liberty, Daniel found true freedom and life to the full! He testified, “Hermano (brother), everything has changed!”

Daniel’s character change led him to support and serve his fellow inmates. The jail wardens – and even the judge – commended him for his excellent behaviour. He was extraordinarily granted early release. As he returned home Daniel took stock of his beloved town, observing, “The government has unsuccessfully tried to help our drug addiction problems in Tucumán. I realized quickly that only God – through the church – could help us.”

Harvesters’ strategy is to infiltrate difficult areas through evangelism and discipleship, after which we immediately plant a relevant church in the area. Pastor Daniel knew Harvesters Ministries could open the way in Tucumán.

Daniel shared the Good News of the life-giving freedom of Jesus with other drug addicts and many came to faith. He and Nancy, his wife – also a convict – planted a church in an old, dilapidated building. Through prayer, fasting and discipleship they quickly grew to just-over 200 drug addicts seeking Jesus. They soon implemented a routine of fasting in the church so that they could feed hungry people in the village.

Daniel could hardly contain his joy as he went through the Harvesters training in evangelism and discipleship strategies. After church planting training they decided to plant another church in Trulala where abused women could be helped. “The churches we plant will truly be the hope in a struggling world,” said Daniel.


Harvesters is Opening the Way

During Francois’ trip, Harvesters continued training with Daniel and with another church where 93 planters were equipped. As the group was sent out into the city, armed with the Gospel, they came across huge groups of young people sitting around. Within the hour over 400 youths had heard the Good News and over 170 gave their lives to Christ! What wonderful news! “It was great placing them into some of the newly planted churches,” said Francois.

After a tremendous day of evangelism, Daniel, overwhelmed with emotion, hugged Francois and with tears flowing whispered, “Thank you that Harvesters has not forgotten us. You have not forgotten the importance of evangelism and discipleship. Never forget to love the church.”

“We saw the true church as Jesus meant it to be unfold in front of our eyes,” Francois reflected of his time in Argentina. “I left Tucumán with a glad heart and knew that – through the church –  God’s WILL will be done in Argentina.” Since his return home, two more churches have been planted. Praise the Lord that His Church continues to grow in Tucumán through the ministry of transformed believers.

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