Friday, July 15, 2005


Acts 16:9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. Acts 16:9 (KJV)

“Are you a missionary?” “Yes…?” “Are you a ‘Baptist’ missionary?” “Yes…?” “Then YOU are the man I’ve been waiting for.” Acts 16:9 (Mellberg)

In 1979, a little over a year after Kirt and I arrived in Tepic, Kirt was in the town plaza passing out tracts, making friends, and inviting random curiosity seekers to the Sunday evening Bible study we held in our home. From the corner of his eye he noticed, a short, dark, spunky old man, dressed in his brightly-embroidered “karate-like” muslin costume begin to approach him. Román’s first words to Kirt were not those of introductory protocol that is common in the Mexican culture, but: “Are you a missionary?” “Yes…?” “Are you a ‘baptist’ missionary?” “Yes…?” “Then YOU are the man I’ve been looking for for all these years.”

Román went on to explain that many years before, just after Kirt was born, a Bible translator, had come to live in his family's village and had started the process of translation of the New Testament into the Huichol language. When the task was done years later, the translator and his family were leaving for another assignment. His parting words were, “Román, you have heard God’s Word and have accepted the forgiveness of your sins that He promises to all who will call upon His name. You are now His child. We have helped you reduce your language and God’s Word to writing; we have helped you get it printed and provided you with copies; we have taught you to read it. Now, you must study it, memorize it, live it, and share it. I will pray with you that God will send someone to help you reach the rest of your tribe with its truth.”

...many years later…

Early, the following Sunday morning, we traveled to Román’s village, Atonalisco, to meet with the handful of family members that Román had rounded up to “come and hear God’s Word.” That was the beginning of our participation in a great effort and harvest among the Huichol people.

In 1982, old Román was dying. His son, Filiberto, called on the telephone from a neighboring village with the sad news and to express that Román was calling for Kirt. When Kirt arrived in the village of Atonalisco, Román’s emaciated and spent old body was reclining on an old cowhide under one of the massive, flowering mango trees at the church compound. It was an emotional moment charged with the stomach-turning feeling that our friend was leaving us. In his gruff and to-the-point voice, Román said, “Missionary, don’t cry for me. I’m certain that I am leaving, and I will miss you, but don’t cry for me. Cry for my people.” Román ordered Kirt to lift him to his feet. He set his face toward the mountains of the Sierra Madre range that surround the village of Atonalisco, and he lifted his withered, old arm to point out a dozen villages. He said, “In that direction is the village of Codorniz; and there’s Santa Barbara; and Rancho el Molino; and Zapote de Picachos and La Quemada,” and on he continued to name more. He declared, “That’s where my people live.” Then, with the words that never left Kirt’s heart, Román proclaimed, “I leave in your charge, my people.”


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