George and Barb Zarris Prayer Letter:  "Bad Boy" Church Teen Turned Swiss Army Knife for the LordThe newest member of CRI’s La Luz Latina radio staff radiates the joy of the Christian life with his infectious smile and effervescent spirit. Confident, creative, and passionate, Caleb Delgado is the kind of energetic young man that every pastor wants to mentor and every business wants to hire. Who would believe that fifteen years ago, he was a “bad boy” church teen that many had written off.

Caleb should have been a poster child for Christian education. Saved at age six while attending the New Hope Baptist Church in Summit, Illinois, he later moved with his family to Northwest Bible Baptist Church (NBBC) in Elgin, Illinois, to sit under the old-fashioned, fiery preaching of Pastor Keith Gomez. Caleb spent 12 years at Northwest Baptist Academy, while his Godly father taught in the Bible college and his mother filled the home with music and radio programs from Moody Radio in Chicago. Caleb’s favorite was Adventures in Odyssey. The entire family lived and breathed church, bus routes, and soul winning.

So what went wrong? In his junior year, Caleb began hanging out with the wrong crowd while working at an after-school job in a fast-food restaurant. Soon a rebellious spirit ruled him. Although he graduated from high school and enrolled in Providence Baptist College, he wanted no part of studies, rules, or ministry. He failed all classes but choir.

On Memorial Day weekend 2011, God shook Caleb’s world. That Sunday morning, the Spanish church had a split, and 900 people walked out. “I got scared and began weeping,” Caleb recalled. “Then the Holy Spirit clearly said to me, ‘They are leaving! What are you going to do?’ I had to decide what I really believed! That night, I turned to God and began praying, reading the Bible, and listening to the Holy Spirit.”

Although Caleb’s desires changed, people’s opinions did not. Despite their skepticism, God began to direct Caleb’s creative juices into eternal projects. After realizing that the summer attrition rate for bus riders was very high, Caleb organized a Sunday Summer Soccer Program in 2012. Every bus route had a team. Kids became faithful! Parents attended! Caleb oversaw it all—the games, the tournaments, the awards ceremony, and the Gospel preaching—despite suffering excruciating pain from an undiagnosed broken back! Many were saved! The idea was so successful that two years later, Caleb held sports camps in Panama, Mexico, and Honduras. The results were fantastic! In one church that had just 15 members, 150 visitors came, and 130 were saved!

While on a missions trip to Honduras, God brought radio into Caleb’s life in a most unexpected way. Caleb learned that a Christian station (owned by an atheist) lacked content. Drawing on the ideas he had used in high school when he entered the Radio Show category in a Fine Arts Competition, Caleb volunteered to produce seven hours of live content per day. He scrambled to fill the time with listener testimonies, local music, and live-streamed services from NBBC. When Caleb returned to the U.S., he began producing his own two-hour, daily Spanish radio show entitled, “Conversations with Caleb,” which he has continued to do pro bono for seven years while working as a loan processor for J.P. Morgan.

Since Caleb’s marriage to Nancy Jimenez in November 2023, the couple has settled in Guadalajara, Mexico, where Caleb’s college friend, Sammy Robles, founded and pastors the four-year-old Lighthouse Baptist Church. Although Caleb has been working as the pastor’s assistant, he has also been training some of the students in the Christian college to operate the boards in the radio studio and to participate in broadcasts (pictured on Page 1).

Recently, Caleb was asked to enumerate his present responsibilities. “I teach kids, train the secretaries, lead the Sunday school, plan a summer sports program, assist in the one-year-old Bible college, help with the construction of a new 600-seat auditorium, facilitate in establishing small businesses that provide work for college students, produce my daily radio show, and . . . I’m learning television production. Basically, I’m a Swiss Army knife. I do just about everything!”

Update from Pastor Paul Dudka
(Sunday, January 14, 2024)

Since morning, sirens—because of rockets, but our church building is packed—so many people. After two hours, people don’t want to be dismissed—crying, praying, singing. My friends, how can I leave the country if God is working so miraculously?! People are getting saved and are hungry to hear the Word of God. Thank you so much for praying for my safety and the safety of my family!” (Editor’s Note: President Zelensky has nationalized all media outlets. Only pro-government news is broadcast. All Christian television and radio programs have been suspended.)

Training the Youth

Fabio Betancourth, Spanish pastor of the Bible Baptist Church in Bradenton, Florida, encouraged his teens to produce a live Christmas program for La Luz Latina, CRI’s flagship radio station for the Spanish world. The teens played the guitar, sang, and testified. (The participants were Isaac, Daniel, and Jeremias Aragon; Luis Martinez; Pastor Betancourth; Esther, Ana, and Elizabeth Betancourth.)

We’re On!

With utmost dedication and perseverance, Missionary Gregg Schoof and his Burundi volunteers met their deadline. Freedom Radio, 104 FM, is broadcasting. The studio building is a work in progress. (Pictured: Notice the sticks for scaffolding.) Gregg will return to Burundi in February 2024 to continue construction.

George Zarris
Christian Radio International