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Carolina's Joy

Sometime about 1985;

"You, and that new religion of yours! GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!"

Carolina cowered, and slipped though the door, but not in time to escape being hit in the back with an empty beer bottle. What could she say or do to convince her father to allow her newfound faith. He had always been given to drink, and never very religious, but now that she had found real inward peace and joy in her new found relationship with Jesus, it seemed to her that he was far more cruel than before. And suddenly being "Catholic" was very important to him.

No sleeping in her own corner tonight. He was drunk already, and still had two sixpacs to go. Where to go? Tia (Aunt) Elena might let her sleep there, with her four little ones. But if her father found out, it would put Tia Elena in danger too. Well, it's too late to make other plans - already much past bedtime.

"No Pancho!" Carolina awoke to her aunts determined voice. "You can't come in when you are so drunk. And besides Carolina is not here."

"Where is she then? If your lying to me, I'll kill you!" - her fathers drunken voice - continued mumbling, and shouting threats, but he was moving on down the street. And then a gun shot brought her upright from her pad on the floor!

"Tia Elena!"

"Yes my child, everything is okay. Don't be afraid. He's gone. He was merely shooting into the air."

The two women embraced, both weeping, and trembling. The oldest of the children crept to the door, and looked down the dusty street toward Carolinas home. He watched for awhile.

"Tio (Uncle) Pancho has just blown out the lamp. He must be going to sleep.", he said.

"He was really angry, and he had a pistol" worried Tia Elena. "You must not be here in the morning!"

"But where can I go, Tia?"

"Oh, if only you had not listened to those cursed evangelicos. He is so angry because you have changed your religion."

Carolina just sobbed silently. Tia Elena was not opposing her. She just could not understand. She was confused by the turmoil.

Tia Elena had listened to the preaching, too, and had commented that she liked the singing. Before Carolinas' baptism Tia Elena had remarked several times at the obvious and attractive difference in her niece since she had become a believer.

"Listen, child. I have an idea. We must do something tonight. Your father loves you, and would never hurt you when he is sober, but in his drunkenness, he might really kill you.

I have a second cousin who lives in a village North and West of Mexico city. Here is money I have saved from selling tamales. Go now, take the bus that passes at daybreak out there on the main road to Mexico City. From there take the bus to Tinaco de San Pedro, and ask for my second cousin Loida. Here, I will write her a note."

"Oh, Tia! I do not want to go!", Carolina wept. "But what else can I do?"

"And you must hurry to catch the early bus." whispered Tia Elena hugging her.Carolina wrapped her shawl around her.

"Oh, thank you so much. I love you all so dearly," She said as she hugged the four little ones. "And, Tia, I love you, and I'll pray for you - and for daddy- every day," she whispered as they embraced at the open door. And then she turned and ran down the familiar road, stumbling through her tears toward the main road.

ON THE HIGHWAY FROM WEST TEXAS
TO MEXICO CITY 1991

Two Christian men traveling by car.

"Pedro, tell me about yourself, and how you came to be a Christian."

"Well, brother Tom, As a child, I lived in a little village called Tinaco de San Pedro not very far from Mexico City. One day (Oh maybe forty years ago) a young preacher named Hermano (Brother) Chuy came to our village selling Bibles, and talking to anyone who would listen about Jesus. My parents received him, and showed him hospitality. He stayed with us for several days, and both my parents and most of us older children believed what he had to say. When we asked him to baptize us in the nearby creek, some people who feared, and misunderstood came to jeer, and to throw rocks. There were a number of people who believed his preaching. But then there were many others who resisted violently.

Hermano Chuy didn't live in Tinaco, but he kept coming back every month or two. After our family was baptized, we became the focal point for those who resisted the gospel. For some time the persecution got pretty intense. Every few days a member of our family would be ambushed and beaten, or rocks would be thrown at our house, or at ourselves when we went out. Dads cornfield was burned, and his burro was stolen. We prayed, and tried to live by the instruction of the Bible to love your enemies. A few more individuals turned to Christ, and brother Chuy kept coming back and encouraging us and teaching us.Nevertheless, after a few years of this, my father decided to leave. We went to Texas, where Dad, and us older boys could find work, and we have lived there ever since."Pedro paused, as if his story were finished.

"And you've never been back to your native village since, Pedro?"

"Never. And I never intended to go back till I met you, and you insisted. I have mostly bad memories of the place."

"And what about your parents, and your brothers and sisters?"

"They never went back again either. Not even to visit. Mom had family there, and mentioned that she missed them, and we all missed brother Chuy. But Texas became our home. We had good Christian fellowship there, and Dad & Mom both died there, and are buried there. My brothers and sisters are scattered all over the United States, but none of us have ever been back to Tinaco de San Pedro."

"Well brother Pedro, we should be there by nightfall."

"Wonder if anyone there will remember young brother Chuy."

NEXT MORNING, AFTER SLEEPING IN THE CAR AT THE LOCAL PEMEX GAS STATION.

Pedro was up at dawn talking to the gas station attendant: "Buenos dias (Good morning), and God bless you."

"Buenos Dias, Señor".

"I was born in this town, but it has been a very long time since I have been here. Can you tell me if there are any "hallelujahs" here?"

"O, si, (yes sir). I myself am a child of God. There are quite a number of us. The "templo" is at the top end of this first street. The Pastor should be there now. There is a meeting today at 10 o'clock. "

"Praise God! Then you are our brother! And what is your pastors name?"

"Hermano Chuy Verdugo."

"No kidding? Is he an older man - about 60 years? Is it possible that he might be the same man who came here preaching the gospel forty years ago?"

"Si, Hermano. (yes brother) The very same man!"

"Hallelujah!"

Brother Tom. Wake up! Lets get going. I want to introduce you to the man who introduced me to Jesus Christ!"

What a morning brother Pedro had. Catching up on all the good news of the past forty years. Meeting some of the children of his mothers family, now saved, and grown, and raising up Christian families. Praising God with dear old Hermano Chuy, for the faithfulness of God, and for the large number of Christians in the community.

After a really blessed worship service, the two travelers were invited home with one of the families of the church. A young couple with two small children, and another on the way.

After lunch both men were asked to tell how they came to Christ, and the young man of the house told his story while his wife washed up the dishes. Then as they relaxed under a fruit tree, Tom commented to their hostess, "Sister, we have not yet heard your story."

A HARVEST CAMP NEAR CULIACAN IN EARLY 1990

Francisco had left his family at home far to the South. He had come here to earn some money in the harvest season. He had hoped to earn enough to build a house of cement block. The adobe walls of his little shack were constantly crumbling, and sagging. But Francisco had a problem. He had not saved any money, or sent any money home. Almost all the money he had earned so far had been used up just living from day to day, and when he saw how little was left after payday, discouragement descended on him like a fog. And in utter discouragement, he had spent the small remainder of each weeks pay on alcoholic beverage. For a few hours he could forget his discouragement. But then it was back worse than ever. Drink was destroying his life, and his family. It was the end of the first workday after payday, and he was trudging back to his quarters. Tired. Dirty. Hungry. But mostly discouraged. Doña Nina, next door prepared a hot supper for him for 1500 pesos (about fifty cents in American money) a day. He didn't have to pay her until payday. Good thing, because the hangover he was suffering had cost him all that was left of last weeks paycheck.

Standing at Doña Ninas window eating his supper, suddenly he was interrupted by - of all things - a "gringo" (an American), walking through with his strange accent inviting everyone to a FREE MOVIE. The gringo was giving out leaflets, but Francisco didn't take one, because he couldn't read.

"Free movie" he thought. "What did he say it was about? Well, I guess I'll go and see if it really is free. Must be some catch to it."

That night Pancho found Christ as Savior. What a change! discouragement gave way to joy, and drinking disappeared from his life altogether. He managed to save up in the remaining weeks of harvest more than he had thought would be possible. And when he returned to his village in April Everyone noticed the change in him. One day as he was putting the finishing touches on the new concrete block addition to the house, his sister Elena approached him. She came right to the point, and right to the one issue in his life that still gave him the most pain: "Pancho, remember the night you came to my house drunk with your pistol? Well, I lied to you that night. Carolina was there..."

BACK AT TINACO de SAN PEDRO

Carolina smiled, and closed her eyes for a few seconds to collect her thoughts. Then she told about the man & wife team who had begun to visit her village when she was a teenager. She fairly glowed as she told of the night she had come to Christ, and of her baptism. But then her face clouded as she began to tell of her fathers reaction, and she began to weep as she told of the night of her departure from home. Then she smiled again as she told of the fellowship she had found in her aunt Loida, who had been saved only a few years before they met. Her husband took her hand as she told how they had met in the church, and of the beautiful love that God had given them. "But," she concluded quietly, "I have not heard a word of my own parents, brothers, or sisters, or my Tia Elena in these several years of separation. I pray for them every day." She wiped her eyes, and raised her head, gazing without really seeing toward the road. She absentmindedly realized that a man was walking there. Then he began to run toward her . "Carolina?" he called. Startled she focused on him, and sat up straight. "Daddy!" A moment of terror! A wave of love! And father and daughter embraced .

What a tearful, happy, afternoon! She heard the whole story of how he had given his life to Christ. She learned that Tia Elena had also been saved. He heard her story over several times. He held his grandchildren, and invited his son in law to come and meet the rest of the family. They went to church together in the evening, and in the morning when Pancho had to go home it was with embraces all around, and plans that Carolina and family would soon come on the bus to spend some time at her former home.

In January 1992 Brother Dennis (known as Tom in this story) came to be a part of the Culiacan '92 project. He told the story upon which this story is based. The most essential elements of the story are true. Names of people and places, and other details to bring the story together have been supplied by the author.

( By: Dave McMullen 1993)

 

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Oct. 15, 2001