October 23, 2018

If there was a Mount Rushmore of Faithful Servant Award winners, Ronald (’76) and Christine Self could easily be on it.

As missionaries to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for over 35 years, the Selfs have willingly and faithfully put themselves into the crosshairs of danger on a daily basis.

“In Argentina, every missionary must deal with the high level of crime,” said Ronald.  “We have been robbed 14 times, several times violently, and at gunpoint. We have learned to trust the Lord in these situations and God has used these experiences to test our faithfulness and to demonstrate His faithfulness to us. Nevertheless, it is a challenge to continue ministering without fear, while trusting God and cautiously evaluating potential dangers.”

The Selfs have been married for over 41 years, and they consider that partnership a key to their longevity as missionaries on a dangerous field.  They met on a Missionary Apprenticeship Program (MAP) to Peru in the summer of 1975. Christine was a student at Baptist Bible College in Pennsylvania, while Ronald was a student at Faith Baptist Bible College.

“During that same summer, we both confirmed God’s leading into missionary service and began a friendship,” said Ronald.   “After the conclusion of the trip, we began a dating relationship and then we were married on January 22, 1977.”

Ronald believes God called him into ministry when he was eight years old.  As a teenager, he began searching for a college that was “doctrinally sound and had a heart for the ministry.”  He chose Faith Baptist Bible College because everyone he interacted with (faculty, staff, and students) showed a strong level of love for him as a person and cared more about God’s will than a hard-sell approach to college recruitment.

While he was a student at Faith, Ronald participated in soccer, basketball, and softball.  He was the president of the Student Missions Fellowship team, class Vice President, and a Resident Assistant.  He credits his time at True Bible Baptist Church, under the ministry of Ezell Wiggins, as a key point in his life, spiritually.  His service in ministry there gave him important “multi-cultural experiences,” which would later prove beneficial in his ministry in Argentina.

After Ronald and Christine were married, they spoke with missionaries and explored opportunities across South America.

“At that time, Argentina was a prospective new field for our chosen agency,” said Ronald.  “This factor, along with the European flavor of Buenos Aires and the opportunity to develop pastoral leadership, helped us to determine God’s leading to serve Him in Buenos Aires, Argentina.”

The Selfs have ministered at Missionary Baptist Church (Iglesia Bautista Misionera) for over 35 years and have established five additional churches in surrounding communities. At the beginning of each church plant, Missionary Baptist Church sends one or two pastors, one to three deacons, and a group of 10 to 35 people from the church to a new area to begin church services.

Ronald’s schedule is challenging as he assists in property acquisition, construction of church buildings, leadership training, and weekly and monthly pastor and deacons’ meetings, all while serving as lead pastor for Missionary Baptist and teaching at Besson Bible College.  Christine stays equally busy, teaching Christian Education classes at Besson Bible College and music classes to beginning pianists of the church plants.

The Selfs have three children: Andrew, Susan, and Mark.  The ministry in Argentina continues to be a family effort as Andrew and his wife Romina and their two daughters, Emily and Megan, are planting a church in a suburb of Buenos Aires.  Mark and his wife, Anahi, along with their daughter, Sophia, are currently planting a church in El Talar, another suburb of Buenos Aires.  Susan lives in Tampa, which serves as a home base for the rest of the Self’s when they are on deputation.  She travels to Argentina every December for the holidays.

The Selfs faithfulness in ministry is balanced with equal amounts of blessings and disappointment.  The blessing of watching new pastors raise new flocks into mature, theologically-sound churches is one of the most enjoyable aspects, while the disappointment of watching newly-converted Christians and potential church leaders fall into sin is one of the most challenging.

Ronald and Christine offer many years of wisdom and advice to anyone considering missions.  First, be sure that God has called you because you will face many challenges.  Second, learn to be a servant-leader.  Third, pray God would bring a husband or wife into your life who is completely dedicated to serving God. Fourth, concentrate your studies on pastoral and Biblical training. And fifth, commit to an entire lifetime of missionary service.

For over 35 years, the Selfs have remained dedicated to the calling that God placed in their hearts as young, single, college students during a missions trip to Peru.  “He placed a burden on my heart to go places where there were no churches at all and preach the gospel and plant churches,” said Ronald.

And that’s exactly what they’ve done.  Faithfully.

You can learn more about the Selfs at www.theselfsinargentina.com