A seven-year-old alliance of Christian taxi drivers in Uruguay's capital city has grown to the point where members now have a radio program and a renovated house that serves as a ministry center. Sixty of Montevideo's 3,000 taxis are driven by members of the Christian Taxi Driver Association.
Alvaro Rodriguez views his taxi as a moving pulpit. "People open up and share their problems because they think they'll never see you again," he says.
Rodriguez became a Christian when another driver gave him a New Testament two years ago. Before his conversion, he had been a leader in the Umbanda sect, an Afro-Brazilian religion popular in Uruguay. Now he often ministers to Umbandistas who flag him down. "One day I picked up a transvestite and saw she was carrying a food offering for an Umbanda ritual," he says. Rodriguez shared his testimony and helped lead his passenger out of the sect. "I met him later, dressed normally, and he told me that his life had changed, and he had left Umbanda for good."
Not all conversions occur in the back seat of a taxi. Night-shift drivers meet at 2 a.m. daily in the Plaza de Los Aliados—a notorious meeting place for drug dealers and prostitutes—for prayer. Day drivers do the same at 11 a.m. One morning, as driver Santiago Guillenea prayed with coworkers, a young man approached asking where he could find a male prostitute. "After sharing with him from the Bible and praying for him, he accepted the Lord," Guillenea says. "We directed him to a church near the plaza for further help."
The association enjoys the support of Montevideo's pastors mainly because of its parachurch strategy. "We don't promote any particular denomination," says driver Iliomar Darin.
Rodriguez adds, "Many people call our radio program wanting to join us, but our vision is not to start a church." Another key element of the association's vision is to reach other taxi drivers with the good news. The Christian drivers pool their money to finance trips to interior Uruguayan cities.
"We want to preach the gospel to every taxi driver in Uruguay," Darin says.
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