By Melissa Chesnut
Each year, National Hispanic Heritage month (September 15–October 15) honors the histories and cultures of Hispanic nations and remembers the anniversaries of the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile. This four-part “Throwback Thursday” series will focus on different aspects of Wycliffe’s work among Hispanic countries and language communities.
The Gospel has a way of changing people in amazing ways, and sometimes it starts in places you wouldn’t expect!
During his early travels, Cam Townsend met a man named Silverio Lopez. Silverio was one of the few Cakchiquel Indians who could understand and read a little Spanish. When he was working in Guatemala City, he bought a Spanish Bible. But it was filled with so many words and phrases he didn’t know that he couldn’t understand it! Frustrated, he put the book away and forgot all about it.
Soon Silverio had to return to his village home because one of his children died and another was very sick. Desperate to help his child, Silverio visited the village witch doctor. The witch doctor blamed the sickness on the spirits of dead ancestors, and told Silverio to buy candles and put them before an image in the Antigua church. Silverio followed the witch doctor’s orders, but was soon in heavy debt.
One day Silverio found a scrap of paper on the road. He picked it up and read, “My Father’s house should be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” When he got home, he looked up the verse in the Bible. Convicted by what the Bible said, Silverio decided to stop paying the witch doctor and to quit taking candles to the church. Instead, he went to the doctor and bought medicine that soon cured his daughter’s stomach. Then he went to the Antigua church and talked to the Guatemalan pastor, who told him how to believe in Jesus.
Silverio surrendered his life to Christ and soon became an evangelist to his own people! Just six months after accepting Jesus, Silverio had already led forty Cakchiquel Indians to Christ. His life was so drastically changed that he couldn’t help but share his newfound love with everyone he met, and his passion continued to spread.
Silverio wasn’t the only person Cam met whose life was changed in a big way. One day Cam met a shoemaker who had once been a drunkard, but who had abandoned the bottle for Jesus. “Before I was a believer, I was thrown in jail sixty-three times for drunkenness,” he told Cam. “Now I’ve been behind bars three times for preaching the Gospel.”
Cam also met a Cakchiquel Indian man who had gone to the president of Guatemala to complain about Cam’s work among his people. When the president met the man, he asked the man if he could read. The man said yes, so the president handed him a copy of the Cakchiquel New Testament that Cam had given him.
After reading a few lines, the man looked up in amazement. “This is wonderful! God speaks our language! Where can I get a copy of this book?”
The president told him, “From the people you were complaining about.”
The man returned home, bought the Bible in his own language, and became a believer. Someone later told Cam, “Now he goes everywhere, telling people that the president evangelized him.”
People like Cam, Silverio, the shoemaker, and even the president of Guatemala didn’t let the change stop with them. They didn’t keep their passion and excitement to themselves, but rather shared with the people in their lives about Jesus. Because they took bold steps of faith, they were able to touch the lives of many people.
Change can start with just one person!