Biblical & Simple
Mark: So we thought we’d do something a little different today. We thought we would jump in on a conversation with my colleague who lives near Medellin, Colombia. His name is Anderson Ocampo Anderson, good to see you, Honestly brother, you’re a good friend and we’ve been working together for a couple of years now with PassionLife. Thank you. A lot of the work that we do ends up meaning that we meet up in foreign countries in Latin America and I’ve just come to love and respect you. It’s an honor to work with you. I’m really excited to talk with you today.

Anderson: Thank you, Mark, and I feel the same. You’re a great friend and colleague. I feel that we work in sync together really well.

Mark: You know I used to play in rock and roll bands all these years and there’s something mysterious that can’t be explained when you first start playing music with somebody. Maybe you have two good musicians but they don’t really gel at first. But over time, with familiarity, there’s this chemistry that develops that’s hard to describe. From working and teaching together in the field you and I not only have that friendship but we have that chemistry that has begun to really make our time together enjoyable.

Anderson:: Yes, I know the feeling. Maybe it’s because I like rock and roll.

Mark: And because we’re just old rock and roll guys.

Anderson: Yes, but teaching together is never the same. Even though we essentially have the same sequence and script with the Four Questions, it’s never the same. There’s been times when you give me an outline or a text and then the next day you say, “You know what?” I changed it. And I am okay with that and I know where you’re going. So at this point when I have to translate with you, I don’t have to do that brain effort like in the past because I know where you are going. We’ve been to so many places together that I know where to continue in Spanish and somehow you know where to pick up.

Mark: Well, I think again that’s a chemistry issue between the two of us because I don’t speak Spanish or understand what you’re saying. But a lot of the time I can tell even when you get a little bit off or maybe you add something to what I’ve said, most of the time I pick that up and know that I don’t have to repeat what you just said. How long have you been working full-time with PassionLife now?

Anderson: I started August 2022.

Mark: And you knew John and Jeannie long before that because you had been working with them on trips to Columbia.

Anderson: Yes. I have known John since 2018, at the theological school. He came to teach his bioethics class and I spent one week with him. I knew Jeannie from his booklet where he shared her story. Then I met her in person in 2020 or 2021 when he came back to Medellin.

Mark: So I’m trying to recall now, what do we call you right now? What is your official role with PassionLife? Do you have a title?

Anderson: Yes, it’s Christian Leadership Pastor or Leadership Trainer.

Mark: Obviously your focus is Latin America because you are bilingual in Spanish and English. But we feel comfortable sending you to train anywhere in the world.

Anderson: Yes, I think it’s a blessing that I learned English listening to rock and roll back when I was 12 years old. So that gave me the opportunity to read and study in English, listening to your videos, teachings, and John’s books. That gives me two concepts of the same words sometimes. Then I’m able to translate that in my own context, not just in generic Spanish.
And it’s so fun because accents and words change a lot in every country in Latin America. It’s Spanish, but it’s not the same Spanish.

Mark: That’s right. You know that this is Cuban Spanish or you know that this is Ecuadorian Spanish.

Anderson: I do.

Mark: But one thing I can’t tell now is Cuban Spanish because they drop all those consonants. I can usually pick out a Cuban speaker at this point.

Anderson: And sometimes I don’t understand when they speak.

Mark: I get that and that makes sense. It’s very different. Let’s go back to the idea of us working together and you translating as much as you do. Obviously when we’re in South American countries and you and I are teaching together, we’re switching off. You’re teaching some, I’m teaching some. We go back and forth and that keeps it interesting for the people in the audience. They’re not listening to one person just go on and on but it doesn’t give you any breaks. You have to work all day.

Anderson: Yes, I need to go to the gym now because when we’re training, I’m there standing, translating and teaching all day. Yes, all the adrenaline is flying during those days. When I get back home, I take a very long nap.

Mark: Let me ask you a question. When you’re working with me, you have to teach certain points. And then when I am teaching, you’re translating my thoughts and putting my words into other people’s minds. Which is more difficult or exhausting for you? To just teach on your own or to translate for me?

Anderson: I think two things have their challenges because I have the responsibility to be faithful to what you say, but at the same time trying to express it in a way people would get it. It’s just not a word by word translation because that doesn’t communicate the meaning. But when I teach, I am responsible to be faithful and clear. One of the temptations I have is that when we’re teaching about a lot of things, you want to say a lot of things and touch on different topics. But focus on this, and that’s my struggle. That’s why as a trainer I want to communicate to other pastors and leaders, focus on this issue, this biblical passage, and this story. Yes, I think to answer your question, both have challenges and honestly with you when I have to translate my brain switches cables sometimes and I feel burned.

Mark: I can only imagine. I didn’t do a whole lot of translating in Chinese when I lived there because I wasn’t good enough at it. It’s not an easy thing. But one thing that I want to center in on here for a second is what you just said, which is that when we’re teaching, we feel this responsibility to be clear and concise. We want to say exactly what it is that the Bible says. We do not want to get off of what the Bible says and put in our experiences or our thoughts or our emotions. As much as we can we are trying to focus on a biblical text and there’s a reason for that. Number one, the biblical text obviously is always right and when we’re explaining it to people we’re helping them understand that it’s what God has already said that is important and will make a difference in their culture, not trainers coming from various foreign countries to train them. It’s a big responsibility.

Anderson: It is and I would add something to that. Latin America is an area of opportunity because I have found that practically every Christian believes he or she is pro-life. But they don’t know how to articulate that in a biblical way. They know how to do it from other sources and that’s okay. But we claim we have God’s written revelation, and when we show people the text, that it is superior to what any other man can say even with the same truths, it’s just impacting. I mean the reactions are like wow, we didn’t know this was in the text and that’s part of that challenge to be faithful to that text and really exalt the Lord so that people can go back and feel that passion for scripture.

Mark: Yes, you are so right. People think they’re pro-life but if you ask them to articulate it from a biblical standpoint, even pastors sometimes are very thin. I’m not saying that they don’t understand the theology or haven’t thought about it. It’s just that they haven’t thought about it very deeply and this is why I’m always telling people when we go out and teach with PassionLife, we almost always impress the socks off of people. It is not because we’re good teachers. It’s not because we’re dazzling people to listen to. It’s because they come with such low expectations to a pro-life meeting. They say, “Oh, we’re going to talk about abortion” and “we’re going to talk about pro-life.” Well, I’m already pro-life, I don’t need that. I’ll go but I don’t expect much and they make it easy for us to blow them away because they come in with the bar set very low. Then we come in and we stick very close to biblical passages that they have not ever considered in a pro-life context before. It shocks them.

Anderson: That’s one of the things that really shocked me years ago hearing you and John teaching is that it’s just simple because you were saying let’s read the text again. Like in Luke one the angel says you shall conceive and give birth, there’s two different things there. Let’s just read it again and then we ask the people what does the text say and people start trying to guess and let’s just read the text again. It’s as simple as that and that’s the beauty of it. People see that this is so simple, so deep and we can do it too.

Mark: That’s right, in order to conceive and give birth to a son you’re going to do two things and two things are going to happen to this son. One is that the son is going to have birth and the other one is that the son is going to be conceived as a son. And we talk about that and people kind of gloss over those things.

Anderson: That passage is so fun. When you get to Elizabeth and Mary and you ask the people, do the two babies greet each other, they say yes, yes amen. Let’s read the text again and it’s just one baby greeting another one.

Mark: This has been designed and put into the DNA from the time John Ensor (who’s our president of PassionLife) designed all this teaching. He knew that he was going to be teaching in China, Vietnam, India and other places where there’s a great zeal for the Lord, for His church, for evangelism and for the Word of God but often there’s not a lot of theological depth. For instance in China when we first started teaching there the church was still in a cycle of growing so quickly that people were becoming pastors before they had a lot of deep theological training so in order for us to not just teach the pro-life concepts, we needed to teach basic pastoral preaching concepts, hermeneutics, homiletics, and how to draw these principles out of scripture without overdoing it, to go behind the words and to see all the richness that comes out of it, modeling that as we go. We’re modeling that for these young pastors and older pastors.

Anderson: That’s right. And one of the things that blew my mind and I try to share that every time I train is the next time you read the Bible, whether you read it in your order or in sequence, or you have your own program, or you’re even reading the Psalms or Proverbs, open your eyes to the expressions of bloodshed and blood guilt. You will see that it’s repetitive, like patterns that are repeated in the scripture, and you will see it’s not just a political or private thing, but it’s everywhere in the scripture. And people say wow, as they sense our context with the different ways of shedding innocent blood. That’s one example of how we try to encourage people to go back to scripture. You can use other sources, yes, but your main fundamentals is the scripture.

Mark: Well, gosh, Anderson, you’re younger than I am. You’re better looking than I am and you speak a lot better Spanish than I do. It’s an honor working with you. And for a young guy, one of the reasons we always say we love the people that we love and that we work with at Passion Life. The people that God has brought into this organization are top notch. And one of the things that we all have in common is I think that we want to see the Word of God exalted. We want to see it take a primary place, not ourselves and not our teaching. In fact, it’s hard for us because we’re teachers. It’s hard for us not to get up and teach, telling them everything and making them think that we’re experts in everything. And we want to share all these wonderful things that we’ve learned. But we’re trying to simplify so that they can go back out and reteach it which takes humility on our part and I’m always failing at it because I want to teach a little bit more. It feels good to me to teach but I love working with you because I know that your primary desire above all things is the glory of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Word and truth and that people live, walk and grow in it.

Anderson: I don’t know if this has happened to you but when I start teaching my part, sometimes I sense that you want to go further out of our script. And I’m saying I can’t but think why is he going there? But I have to translate everything and what you’re saying that it’s so difficult as a teacher to limit yourself to small chunks when you want to give the full thing. But that’s how simple Christians like you and me, in the pews of the church, everybody can be a good Samaritan. You don’t need to be a professional to do what we do. We can become professionals because we’ve done this hundreds of times. But being simple and biblical. I think I have learned that, sometimes the hard way, because John and you tell me to keep it simple, keep it simple. That’s how people see if it’s simple, I can do it. If it’s complicated, I have to do a PhD.

Mark: Well, it’s an honor working with you and I’m glad that we get to do it together.
Do we have any more trips on the schedule right now? You just got back from Nicaragua. I just got back from Ecuador. We were not together on either one of those trips. Do we know when we’re going to see each other next and be able to teach with each other again?

Anderson: There is a possibility of going to Paraguay next month. I hope we can meet together then. Also, I’m trying to work into my schedule for some trainings in Colombia and it would be a blessing to have you helping me train.

Mark: I always love to come to Colombia and be in your presence and teach with you, and eat chicharrones. You know that I love to be there and eatingchicharrones.

Anderson: My wife knows how to make them.

Mark: She sure does, the best I’ve had. Well, Anderson, it’s good talking with you. I love working with you, I love your heart, and of course, I love you, man. You’re a great friend. Thanks for being a part of all that we’re doing here.

Anderson: Thank you, that’s very humbling, working with PassionLife, and you. I have grown so much these past two years and it is a privilege, and very humbling and encouraging working with you every time. I can’t help but learn every day we move on and it’s good to have a good team with a good climate and being in sync. That’s wonderful.

Mark: And pushing one another. I always learn something from you and it’s always changing. Every time we teach it’s a little bit different and I always learn things from you when I teach. Well good talking to you Anderson. I know what you’re probably having for lunch today because I can almost smell Tatiana’s chicharrones through the camera here.

Anderson: So I’ll send you some pictures.

Mark: Good talking to you, brother.

Anderson: Good talking to you, Mark.