This is a story about two men who found themselves at the end of their rope, desperate for something more in life.
Our outreach team at Orlando Baptist Church met Eliezer Fonseca (the man in the black shirt) on the streets of Orlando, Florida. With little hope, he was homeless, an addict and ready to give up on life.
But God was not done with him.
By God’s sovereign providence, our paths crossed, and we were able to share the gospel of Christ with Eliezer. Not only did he respond to the gospel with a desire and commitment to follow Jesus, but he was placed into a recovery program, and began to be discipled by our team towards restoration.
Not long after Eliezer’s conversion and placement into the Recovery House of Central Florida, Eliezer came with me to fish for men for our monthly “love your neighbor” event at Orlando Baptist Church.
During this time, Eliezer spotted an old friend — Roberto Soto (the man in the red shirt) — on the streets of downtown Orlando.
Sixty-six-year-old Roberto Soto was instantly overcome with emotion when he saw his old friend from the street with his own struggles with addiction. With great passion and zeal, Eliezer shared the gospel with him, and Roberto responded with faith in Christ and a willingness to enter recovery with the help of our church.
When you meet Roberto, he can’t help but tell of God’s saving work that spring day. He even keeps a form in his wallet that was given to him by our team on the day we met him, as a reminder of what the Lord did for him on that most important day.
Both men are doing extremely well. They are growing in their relationship with the Lord and in their relationship with one another. They are actively involved in our church plant, and they have embraced their call to be fishers of men. They have a clear understanding of 2 Corinthians 5:17-20,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
Restoration is at the heartbeat of our mission.
These men are an example to our church. They teach us with every interaction that not only has Christ come to rescue us out of the darkness and transfer us into the Kingdom of God’s beloved Son, but He has called us — regardless of how long we have known Christ — to fulfill our calling to be fishers of men and women.
The gospel of Jesus Christ can save anyone. No one is too far gone. In fact, Jesus is in the business of saving the most unlikely people to accomplish His great redemptive purposes.
Let us boast in the Lord together for the mighty work He has done in these two men, and the work He will continue to do for the advancement of the gospel and the expansion of His Kingdom, for His glory alone.
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Arthur and Jessica Goncalves have been married 13 years and have four children: Arabella, Caydan, Paisley and Leonardo. They have a passion for others to know and love the Lord Jesus. Arthur was an integral part of a church revitalization in Central Florida for the last two years. Through that experience, God called Arthur and Jessica to church planting. He also has a passion for others to go deeper in worship and knows it cannot be done without the Word of God and prayer. Fun fact about Arthur: He loves soccer and served as head coach at Orlando Christian Prep!
Published November 3, 2021