Interview: Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza, Argentina Medical Clinic
Everyone needs the Lord. But before they’re ready to address their spiritual needs, many people have physical needs to take care of. That’s why Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza and his work with our free medical clinic in Buenos Aires, Argentina, are so vital to our ministry. He sits down with Chris for an exclusive interview this week highlighting his medical and spiritual care for all he meets. He shares stories of memorable encounters and a family legacy that you’ll certainly find inspirational!
You can also check out this FOI in Action article online. Click Here to read.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher Chris Katulka. I'd like to encourage you right at the outset to visit our website, FOIradio.org. Again, that's FOIradio.org. There you can find out more information about this radio program, the Friends of Israel Today, or you can browse our archives and listen to over six years worth of Chris's teaching. Again, that's FOIradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Now, if you're a constant listener of our program, and if you are, I just want to say thank you. But if you're a constant listener, then you know that the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry is a teaching ministry, but we're even more than that as well. We are an outreach to the Jewish communities all around the world. And one of the things that I love to feature are our representatives on the field who are serving in any way possible the Jewish people. And today we're going to have Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza from Buenos Aires, Argentina. That's right. I'm sure you're thinking, Buenos Aires? That's right.
There is a huge Jewish population down there. And they have an amazing ministry using the gifts that they have in giving free medical care to the people down there in order to reach them for the cause of the gospel. Again, it's going to be a great episode. Our FOI In Action, a great time.
Steve Conover: Chris, I'm excited for our audience to meet Juan Carlos. But first in the news, Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas met with Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, late last month. The two held a rare meeting, discussing issues of security, diplomacy, the economy, and civil affairs. It's also been reported that Israel will offer a 500 million shekel loan to the Palestinian Authority. This in order to prevent its collapse.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, Steve, this is my take, Israel should monitor every shekel that is spent by the Palestinian Authority. An audit of those funds will show whether they are going to help the beleaguered Palestinian people. And that's what they are, my friends. Listen, they are beleaguered. They need good leadership. So whether or not these funds are going to go to help them or to enrich the political class, or even families of terrorists, a proper audit will ensure the money is spent to help those who are in most need.
We have a great friend on with us right now, a colleague of mine, Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza, who's calling in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to share about his ministry with the Friends of Israel. Juan, great to have you, my friend.
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: Hey, hello everyone and Chris, thank you for your kind invitation to share with the audience.
Chris Katulka: I'm so glad that you're with us. Now, I'm sure that there might be some people right now who are wondering why in the world is the Friends of Israel in Argentina, in Buenos Aires? I'm sure that there are people, and I was one of them a long time ago that when you think about Jewish ministry, when you think about Jewish people, they’re in the United States, they're in Europe, they're in Israel. But Buenos Aires? Can you inform our listeners, could you tell our listeners why Argentina is so important to Jewish ministry?
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: Sure, I'd be glad to. Actually Argentina is very, very close to the south pole. IT is one of the southernmost countries in the world. And ever since its Independence day in early 19th century, it had an open immigration policy. So they had a lot of Jewish immigration and actually it's the largest country in the southern hemisphere, officially, with Jewish community. So, it is the largest. And it's the sixth or the seventh country in the world, according to the world Jewish population statistics.
So there's a lot of Jewish community in Argentina. Most of them are in Buenos Aires City, in the capital. But at the beginning, in the late 19th century, they came and they came in different waves. The most important wave was they came from Russia and actually in Argentina, when we call using the word Russian in Spanish, we use Ruso. It's the same to say to Jewish people, you are Jewish, you're Ruso, you're Russian, because they came from Russia.
Chris Katulka: Interesting.
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: Yes. And there was a Jewish-French industrialist that made a fortune building railroads in Russia. And after his death, he wanted to help the Jewish community. And so he bought large portions of land here in Argentina for Jewish people all around the world to come and settle here. And they became known as the Gauchos Judíos. They were like the cowboy, Jewish Cowboys. And they work the land and live like in kibbutz, but here in Argentina.
Chris Katulka: Interesting. Is there anything to do with the Holocaust in Argentina as well?
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: Yes. Well, during the Second World War and after, that is the third and the fourth wave of immigration. They came in masses here to Argentina. Also, Nazis escaping. But Jewish people came here fleeing the horrors of World War II, and established in many places, most of them in rural areas. But since our rural areas are very poor, most of them now are, we have four neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. Let me clarify that in Argentina, half of the population live in Buenos Aires, and the other half in the rest of the country.
Chris Katulka: Oh wow.
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: So there are small cities in the countryside, which have the name of Moses or something, or similar. They are Jewish communities, very old Jewish communities. But most of them are here in Buenos Aires. In fact, we have such a large Jewish community here that we have a McDonald's kosher, for example.
Chris Katulka: Do you really?
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: Really. Yes.
Chris Katulka: Your area of Buenos Aires is called “Little Jerusalem.” Is that correct?
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: Yes, because three of our Jewish community neighbors are very close, so-
Chris Katulka: That's amazing.
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: ... we have everything, a representation of everything. And sadly, in the '90s, we also have two bombings to the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994 and '92 to the Israelian Embassy. So this is still a big issue here in Argentina.
Chris Katulka: Juan, can you share, it's interesting, you and your family are the only medical ministry of the Friends of Israel. Can you tell us about your family history there in Buenos Aires? How they got rooted there to be doing Jewish ministry, especially in the medical ministry?
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: Sure. Sure. Both my parents are medical doctors. And by the time I was born, my grandparents before them had been missionaries to the Jewish community for almost 30 years. And the last 15 years in affiliation with Friends of Israel. When I was born, my parents were also doing the missionary work and they were establishing the first medical clinic in Buenos Aires. And they were around in the second or third year of the clinic when I was born. So thanks to this great opportunity, I grew up immersed in this Jewish ministry, seeing the best of, and receiving the best of two generations, my parents in medical doctors and my grandparents, which started the missionary ministry among the Jewish people here in this part of the world.
But especially my parents being medical doctors, they had unique opportunities to help them, not only physically, but spiritually as well. And I grew up with that. So I just wanted to follow the footsteps that I have seen them bring in honor and glorifying the Lord through this Jewish ministry.
Chris Katulka: That's amazing. Now, for our listeners, can you tell at the medical clinic, at our Friends of Israel Medical Clinic in Buenos Aires, you're offering free medical care to those who come in. I want to talk a little bit more about that in one second. Between you and your two parents, what kind of doctors are you? What specialties do you have down at the clinic?
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: We try to cover as much as we can. My father, well, he's a cardiologist and my mother is a dermatologist and a pediatrician for kids.
Chris Katulka: Wow.
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: I'm a general surgeon and heart surgeon as well. And because the thing that we specialize more here is cardiovascular checkups for the entire family, which is one of the leading causes of death. It's very important. And so it's what we do, we offer free cardiovascular checkups and take care of the heart.
Chris Katulka: That's amazing. So you're the cardiologist. Your mom is the pediatrician and the dermatologist. And you said your father's a cardiologist as well.
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: As well, yes.
Chris Katulka: Amazing. So that's a fantastic outreach that you have. Now, Juan, we're going to keep you on for a moment. But I want to, really, I want to invite people right now if you're listening, you can read about Juan Carlos's work, and his family's work, their ministry in Buenos Aires ministering to the Jewish community, to really anybody who comes in, but really to the Jewish community, that's there in Buenos Aires. You can read about them in our Friends of Israel In Action section of Israel My Glory.
Chris Katulka: Now, here's the thing, if you're listening right now, and you've never subscribed to Israel My Glory, you need to get your hands on a copy of our magazine, our award-winning Christian magazine. It's a fantastic way to connect with, not only what the Friends of Israel is doing all around the world, but really about the trends that are happening in Israel and in the Christian world, about Christian Zionism, what it means to support Israel and the Jewish people, not from a political perspective, not from even a policy perspective, but even deeper, even more significant from a biblical perspective.
Chris Katulka: You can get all of that right in our magazine, Israel My Glory. It will come right to your door. All you have to do is go to FOIradio.org. Again, that's FOIradio.org, and there will be a link for you to subscribe. You can do that again, by going to FOIradio.org if you've never subscribed, you will get a one-year free subscription of our award-winning Christian magazine, Israel My Glory, again, that's FOIradio.org.
Chris Katulka: We're speaking with Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza. He is a cardiologist who serves in our medical clinic, our Friends of Israel Medical Clinic, down in Buenos Aires, ministering to the Jewish people in Argentina. He has a fantastic ministry of not only helping for the physical needs of those who are in need, but Juan's family has been ministering to the spiritual needs of people as well. Juan, can you share about that overlap that exists between how you help somebody medically, you do a checkup for them, but how that leads to conversations about the Lord, Jesus Christ? Can you tell us about that overlap that exists?
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: Yes, sure, Chris. Actually, what we do is we take care first of the medical aspect. And when we finish, they question us and say, "Why do you do this? Who are you? What does FOI stand for? What does it represent? Why are you helping me totally free of charge with Christian Love? And that question just brings the introducing phrase for us to begin into, and engage into a meaningful conversations. What we do is we try to build bonds with them. We make a relationship, like a physician-patient relationship. We try to build a bond and then we can share and always keeping our testimonies as the main weapon to spread the gospel.
Chris Katulka: That's amazing. Now, one of the things from the Israel My Glory article that's about you, our Friends of Israel In Action article, is that there was actually this moment, you talk about this idea of a testimony that's lived on and I'm going to that page. And I love what was written about you here. It says, "It wasn't long before an elderly Jewish woman approached them. And for a moment, she said, 'I thought that you,'" Speaking to you, Juan Carlos, "'I thought that you were Dr. Alfredo Espinoza.' Taken back, Juan explained that he was Alfredo's son."
You had a moment where you had run into a Jewish woman who had received medical care from your father. And there was that amazing testimony that was left by your parents in that, now you can see the tradition living on in your ministry as well. Can you share about that? Do you run into that often?
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: Yes, very often. Very often. Families, our patients, the mouth-to-mouth publicity of the clinic is it's mainly among the families and friends of one patient. So, we always run into relatives, and friends, and referrals. And after over 30 years of medical ministry of my parents, you can imagine we have tons of patients that remember one of, or either my mother or my father, and my father was mainly with the ambulance. Now I'm in charge of the ambulance service, which is a great opportunity to share with them during emergencies. And it's great. So, yes, my father, with the ambulance was a popular one, and I get very, very often patients that remember him a loving heart. He actually led to the Lord, many, many of them.
Chris Katulka: Amazing. Well, listen, we have been speaking with Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza. And if you would like to prayerfully support the Argentina team and other FOI ministries around the world, but specifically what's going on in Argentina, I want to encourage you to go to FOI.org/INToutreach. Again, that's FOI.org/INToutreach. This will connect you to our international outreach and all the work that's going on around the world, through the Friends of Israel. And you'll be able to connect with what Juan Carlos is doing ministering to the Jewish people and anybody who comes in free medical care. And then with that amazing opportunity to offer somebody care in their darkest moments, an opportunity to share the good news of who Jesus Christ is. It's an amazing ministry, Dr. Juan Carlos, thank you so much for being with us. I really appreciate it.
Dr. Juan Carlos Espinoza: No, thank you. Thank you. I'm deeply honored. I'm always glad to talk about the ministry here in Argentina. We are all excited. We have all the team here in Argentina, we want to thank you for this kind invitation to share with the audience.
Steve Conover: Israel on the verge of becoming a state, a teenaged Holocaust survivor arrives on her shores alone. His name is Zvi Kalisher. Little did he know his search for a new life in the holy land would lead him to the Messiah. Zvi, enthusiastic to share his faith, engaged others in spiritual conversations. Many of which can be found in our magazine, Israel My Glory. While Zvi is now in the presence of his Savior, his collected writings from well over 50 years of ministry continue to encourage believers worldwide. Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life of Zvi.
Mike Kellogg: I was reminded recently of the shortness of physical life. But because our souls are eternal, we all must prepare for eternity. Just this week, I visited two widows. One woman's husband was a believer, and the other woman's husband professed the Lord on his deathbed. His surviving family are unbelievers. I went to their home to comfort them, and to share how they could have eternal life. When I arrived, the family's rabbi was present and he read from the Psalms and many traditional Jewish books.
The family then gave me the opportunity to speak. As you know, I was his friend and I also wanted to be his brother. Someone asked, "How could you be his brother, since you had different fathers?"
I answered, "We can be brothers if we received the Lord Jesus Christ into our hearts, by his spirit."
One replied, "This man died before his time."
"It is written," I said, "the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed, be the name of the Lord. As you know, to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die. The Lord will give you eternal life if you come with open hearts, acknowledge your sin and say, 'Oh Lord, receive us as your children.'"
The rabbi asked me in which yeshiva I teach. I assured him, I do not teach in a yeshiva, nor have I ever attended one. I said, "In a yeshiva, you will learn many stories, but if you follow God's word, you will learn facts about what God has done for you. And for all those who believe on him. What do you know about the Lord? I will tell you something important that you do not know, you cannot sacrifice a chicken for sin."
The rabbi asked, "Is there another way?"
"Yes," I replied. And then I read Isaiah 53 and Leviticus 17:11 for all to hear. Everyone waited for the rabbi to answer, but he was silent.
"Rabbi, what do you have to say?"
The rabbi asked me, "Why are you doing this?"
I answered, "Because I want you to be saved and live forever."
He replied, "But you can see our friend here, he is dead."
"Yes," I said, "His body is dead, but his soul is alive with the Lord."
"Are you sure," he asked.
"He told me he received the Lord Jesus as his Savior. If so, I know he is now in the Lord's presence. There are many Jewish people in Israel today who believe that Jesus is Messiah." They found this hard to believe. The rabbi was very interested as I continued to explain the plan of salvation, and how he could have a personal relationship with a living God, through his son, Jesus Christ.
"You have placed me in a hard position," the rabbi admitted. "I must seriously think about what you have told us."
Please join me in praying for this rabbi and the others. Each one heard the gospel. We trust the holy spirit will work in their lives and reveal to them the truth.
Steve Conover: Thank you so much for joining us for this edition of the Friends of Israel Today. It truly was a joy to have Juan Carlos Espinoza with us.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, Steve, if any of our listeners were touched by the ministry that Juan Carlos and his family have, they can go to FOIradio.org and give right to their ministry to help reach the people of Buenos Aires, the Jewish community of Buenos Aires. It's a fantastic ministry. And also, hey, next week, we are going to have our Israeli tour guide that we love using here at the Friends of Israel when we take our trips to Israel. Roni will be joining us in the studio. And he's going to be sharing what it's like right now with tourism in Israel and really the anticipation that they had, a lot of the tour guides have, on getting back to leading people around the Holy Land. Jim Showers, our executive director will be joining us as well.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold. And I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio PO box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. And one last quick reminder to visit us at FOIradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
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Apples of Gold: Is There Another Way?
While visiting the widow of a friend who had recently died, Zvi shared how his friend was also his brother. The family and rabbi that were present asked how this could be since he was not from their family. Zvi explained, “We all can be brothers if we have the same heavenly Father. We can be brothers if we receive the Lord Jesus Christ into our hearts by His Spirit.” His listeners were intrigued. Hear how Zvi was able to point the rabbi and the family to the truth of the Messiah from sharing Hebrew Scripture with them.
The Friends of Israel Today theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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