Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Peruvian mountain man

I found this on an excellent blog called missions evangelism theology, which are my three favorite things. The following testimony was written by Paul Washer for a Heartcry Magazine from 2001.

Nearly a year and a half ago, at the annual pastor’s conference in Sullana Peru, I was approached by a ragged, unshaven, unbathed mountain man from the northern Andes Mountains.

To reach the conference, he had traveled for days by foot and finally in the back of an old cattle truck. At the conference, he slept on a straw mat on the dirty floor and because of limited facilities (150 pastors sharing one bathroom) he had been unable to bathe or shave. Nevertheless, for him, it was one of the grandest moments in his life, to come to the city and attend a Bible conference where he would learn about doctrine and how to be a better pastor.

He approached me in the characteristic manner of the mountain men, his hat was off and held in front of him with both hands, his worn out Bible was tucked securely under his arm and his head was bowed, almost as if to apologize for bothering me. After thanking me for the teaching that day, he asked me if there was any way I could help him obtain a Bible dictionary. He said his schooling had been very limited and the only book he had ever owned was his Bible, which I saw was in complete disarray. He made it clear, that he did not mean to bother me and that he would do his best to pay what it cost, but that he needed one to be a better preacher and a pastor. He said there were just some words and names he could not understand and it made it difficult to teach his people. The brother had no sooner made his request, when both his face and voice were drowned out by a sea of other pastors who converged on us with questions and comments and similar requests. I image that he had waited the entire conference, maybe the entire year for the moment to ask me for a simple dictionary and yet as I was pulled off by the countless other men, he realized that his petition would go unanswered, at least for another year.

A year past, and the brother made the same long journey down from the mountains to attend the annual Bible conference. On the first day of the conference, I was escaping to my quarters after a long day of teaching when I noticed a lone figure following from behind. As our eyes met, the man quickly took off his hat and lowered his head as if he were a child waiting to be scolded for doing something he should not have done. I searched my memory trying to remember this one face among so many, but then, with his one question, it all came back to me as though it had been yesterday. He asked, “Brother Paul did you bring any dictionaries this year?” And then he continued, with the same argument he had used the year before (as though he needed to justify his petition): “I am not a man of much schooling and there are some words I cannot understand. I want to be a better preacher of the Gospel and a better pastor to our congregation.” I had not brought any dictionaries to the conference because there are so many pastors and in reality everyone of them has the need, but as I spoke with the brother I realized that an exception had to be made. The next day I took a two hour bus ride to the nearest Christian bookstore, but found nothing that would be useful for the brother. It was heart breaking to share with him the bad news, but he accepted it like a man who was accustomed to not seeing dreams come true. Finally, the last night of the conference, a leader shared with me that he had bought two dictionaries in Lima, one for himself and the other to sell. I quickly bought the dictionary and went out looking for the brother. I found him sleeping on the floor of the church under his old coat. I woke him and gave him his dictionary. He began to cry. After the tears subsided, I thought I should investigate a bit about the man’s ministry. As I asked him about his church, he began to make excuses, saying that the church was only three years old, that it was in a very remote place, that the people were very poor, and that they were persecuted by the people of the town.

I began to think that I could have given the dictionary to a more worthy missionary until finally I cornered him and said, “Brother how many people have you baptized?” “How many faithful members do you have in your congregation after three years?” He responded apologetically and a bit embarrassed, “Brother Paul, we now have 80 adults faithfully attending, but we do have many children.” It was not the answer I had expected. I congratulated the brother for his work, which seemed to give him more confidence to speak, and so he continued, “We are poor and many people are against us. As you can see I don’t have much schooling and it is hard for me to understand things. But the Lord is very wise and strong. He is very good to me because He knows we are poor and I never had much schooling. I had to excuse myself from the room to keep from crying.

He was a ragged, dirty, little man. His hair was uncombed, he was unshaven. His clothes were old and ragged. The sandals he wore had been cut out of an old truck tire that someone had thrown away. He was poor and didn’t have much schooling, but he had been used of God to do an extraordinary work, a work that “greater men” have never accomplished. “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33). “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, sothat no man may boast before God.” (I Corinthians 1:27-29).

1 comment:

Tim Killillay said...

That just pulls at my heart strings. I am sitting at my work restaurant looking like a girl that just got done watching a chick flick. I want to be a part of what God is doing in Peru!