Edward Rogers and adult congregation, Maschwitz, Argentina
Edward Rogers and adult congregation, Maschwitz, Argentina (Edward Rogers standing fifth from right, Luis standing second from right, Matilde seated third from right.)

There have been countless thousands (perhaps millions) of highly dedicated and capable Christians who have served the Lord with tremendous faithfulness, fruitfulness and self-sacrifice but who never gained great prominence through their service. Gaining personal renown was not their objective, and they happily, heartily served Christ wherever they were led of Him to do so. In my opinion, such servants of Jesus were true Christian heroes, though they certainly didn’t think of themselves as such and usually weren’t viewed that way by others.

To follow is a partial account of the ministry of one of those innumerable unknown and unsung Christian heroes. His name was Edward Charles Rogers, and most of his acquaintances called him Mr. Rogers. Anti-spoiler alert: There’s quite a surprise at the end of this account, so no peaking ahead! 😊

Edward Rogers was a high-ranking oil executive and a British tentmaking missionary who worked and ministered in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the 1930s and the decades that followed. During the week he worked for the Shell Oil Company in the capital city of Buenos Aires. On the weekends he served as an evangelist and church planter in a series of smaller towns in the Buenos Aires region.

Rogers was a tall, quiet Englishman. He always dressed sharply in a suit. His head which was bald on top, his round-framed glasses and his neatly trimmed mustache combined to give him a dignified, intelligent appearance. At the same time, he was kind and caring toward others, warm and interested in them.

Plymouth Brethren congregation and chapel, Maschwitz, Argentina with its motto of Proclaiming Christ Crucified
Plymouth Brethren congregation and chapel, Maschwitz, Argentina with its motto of Proclaiming Christ Crucified

The first Argentine town in which he ministered was Ingeniero-Maschwitz (usually called simply Maschwitz), a small riverside resort community about thirty miles northwest of the capital. There he evangelized by systematically going door-to-door to every home in town, offering a complimentary copy of an attractive Spanish New Testament to any and all households that desired to have one. He also established a small Plymouth Brethren chapel, the first ever evangelical church in Maschwitz, where he faithfully preached the Gospel of salvation and strengthened believers in their newfound Christian faith.

One day while distributing New Testaments, Rogers gave one to a young married woman named Matilde who eagerly accepted it with gratitude. She was a devout Roman Catholic who regularly worshipped at Mass, confessed her sins to the priest, served in church by playing the organ, and did other good works. Despite all that, something was still missing, and she did not have inner spiritual peace.

So deep was Matilde’s reverence for God’s Word, that she read the New Testament on her knees, literally. As she did, she came to understand that Jesus is the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). By trusting in Christ as the sinless, sacrificial Lamb of God who had come to save her from her sins, she found forgiveness and the peace her heart had longed to have for many years.

Matilde sought out Edward Rogers and told him of the peace she had gained through faith in Christ. When she asked Rogers if she should leave the Catholic church, he responded: “No, no! Stay there. Tell your friends what you’ve experienced. Many of them are probably still searching for what you have found. Then, in the evenings, come join our Bible meetings in our little chapel.” Matilde did that for a time, after which she started attending the Brethren church services Sunday morning and evening.

Several months later her husband Luis, who outwardly had shown no interest in spiritual matters, unexpectedly and publicly professed his faith in Jesus as his “only and sufficient Savior.” Luis soon joined Rogers in carrying out active evangelism in Maschwitz and other area towns. Every summer the two men selected a different town in which to hold evangelistic street meetings.

Luis took his whole family to help with the outreach meetings. Matilde played a portable pump organ and sing. Luis publicly shared his testimony of coming to faith in Christ. Their young son and daughters passed out Christian literature to those who gathered to hear what was being shared. Mr. Rogers preached the Good News of salvation.

Each year Rogers gathered the new converts from those months-long evangelistic efforts into a Christian congregation. Over the course of several years, Rogers and Luis were used of the Lord to plant nine new churches in different towns around Buenos Aires, most if not all of which are still ministering today. Sadly, Luis died suddenly of pneumonia at age thirty-four, about a decade after he became a Christian.

Luis Palau preaching in Monterrey, Mexico, 1966
Luis Palau preaching in Monterrey, Mexico, 1966

The church building at which Mr. Rogers ministered in Maschwitz was tiny, measuring only twenty by twenty feet. Its walls and roof were made with sheets of corrugated metal, the most common building material available at that time. When the heavy winter rains poured down against the metal roof and walls, they nearly drowned out the sound of the congregation’s singing and Rogers’ voice as he preached.

But year after year he continued to faithfully minister to the small congregation in that humble setting. And through the years God did an exceptional spiritual work through Rogers and the church. Over the decades forty-four young people from the congregation were sent out into full-time Christian ministry.

Rogers grew older and his wife died. For a number of years, he and the elders of the Maschwitz congregation had talked and prayed about the need for a Gospel teaching church in extreme southern Argentina, where there was not a single evangelical church. Since Rogers’ health was no longer strong, his church leaders said that someone other than him should go. But after years of no one else going, Rogers determined that he would. “If I die there, I die there,” he stated decidedly. “But I am going to go.”

He traveled to the island province of Tierra del Fuego in southern Argentina, some 1,500 miles south of Maschwitz and about 1,000 miles west of the Antarctica Peninsula. Rogers had very little money at that point, so as he traveled, he asked God to provide what he needed.

Upon arriving at Ushuaia, the province’s capital, he met a group of nuns. He offered to teach them English in exchange for room and board at their convent. In addition to teaching them English, he spent his days going door to door in the city, giving the book of Proverbs and the Gospel of John to anyone who would accept them.

Rogers formed the group of young believers he led to Christ there into the first evangelical church in Ushuaia. Not long thereafter, his earthly life ended, and he went to be with his Lord and Savior in Heaven.

One of the individuals who went out from Mr. Rogers’ Maschwitz congregation into vocational Christian ministry was a young man named Luis Palau. He was the son of Luis and Matilde Palau, who were pointed to Christ by Rogers, then joined the missionary in his street evangelism and church planting ministries.

Luis Palau, Jr., went on to become an eminent evangelist from the 1960s to the 2010s. He has been called the Billy Graham of Latin America, and ranked second only to Graham in the number of people he personally preached the Gospel to during his worldwide evangelistic career. Palau spoke in-person to tens of millions of people in more than seventy-five countries. He was used of God to guide countless thousands of individuals to trust Jesus as their Savior.

After visiting Edward Rogers’ grave while conducting an evangelistic festival at Ushuaia, Palau wrote of him: “He had lived for Christ. His life was burned out in the service of God. His practically unknown grave here at the world’s end was a paltry testament. His true memorial was elsewhere—in me, in the many lives he touched, and in the millions of lives touched by those he touched.”

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The above account of Edward Rogers’ ministry was gleaned from the opening chapters of Luis Palau’s spiritual memoir Palau: A Life on Fire (Zondervan, 2019). Chapter 3 in the book, “Lift High the Light, The Good News of Mr. Charles Rogers,” provides fuller details regarding Rogers’ sacrificial, fruitful ministries.

Copyright 2024 by Vance E. Christie

About Vance Christie

An avid fan of historic Christian biography throughout his ministry, Vance has published nine books.

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