Although the man was old and stooped, he walked with the urgency of driven youth. I wonder, is it altogether a tiring body that makes an old person amble along, or is it that the man of age has reached a point of knowing that the demanding things of youth are not important after all, certainly not so important so as to hurry? But this old man had either not come to such a wise state, or he had discovered something that still mattered. As he walked up that rough path strewn with rock the morning sun was beginning to break over the mountains revealing the tiny hut the old man had just left. The freshness of the morning sun streamed through his white, downy hair, giving him a halo effect. His skin, although burned bronzed, was not that of a Mexican or Indian. Except for the few things he carried in a small native, handmade net bag he had strung over his shoulder, he had nothing with him. The path into the mountains where he walked led only to remote villages, the closest, still a day’s walk. This village is what is referred to as a “nothing village”—no store, no fresh water, and only the poorest of people scratching the barren rock for substance. Why a gringo would be going that way without any provisions was a mystery to those watching him disappear up the steep trail.
“Ha! They wonder about me yet. How many years, Lord, have we been walking these trails? We first walked this very trail over 35 years ago. Those people living in the mountains are nothing people to the villages below, but I know, and You know Lord, they belong to You. How I thank you for giving to me the opportunity to be the first to tell them the sweet, sweet story. Oh, yes, I remember that day as if it were yesterday, the looks of joy on their faces as they heard the good news of salvation. Yes Lord, thank you for that wonderful harvest. Oh, it has been good to watch them grow and spread the gospel to their own people all over these mountains.
Let’s see, I guess there are over two hundred churches established in these mountains now. What a harvest; how I praise you! Oh, the riches of your mercy are past finding out. Lord, I’m getting old, I don’t guess I’ll ever get to visit the last twenty-five churches; they are so far in the mountains. I do wish there was a place for a small airstrip. Oh, well they really don’t need me, it’s just that I would like to see with my own eyes what you’ve done.
I tell you Lord, every time I think of cutting a new airstrip I think of that time I dropped my little boy off in the middle of the mountains down south. I have to say Lord, I smile every time I remember that, but I sure wasn’t smiling then. I was scared to death of having to tell his mother, ‘I lost our 10 year-old-son in the mountains somewhere.” ‘How,’ she would say, ‘could you lose a 10 year-old-boy out of an airplane?’ She has been a good woman, Lord, mighty good woman. Man never had a helpmate that helped as much as mine has, and her with polio all these years. Having all those kids, schooling them, living in some of the roughest conditions, having people in her home day in and day out, she has been a good one. Bless her Lord, give her strength to finish her course. And thank you again Lord, she sure has been a sweet lady. You are a good God. But I’m telling you Lord, I was sweating having to tell her I left our boy behind to show the gospel film and when I came back to that remote Indian village a week later, the locals had taken him to the next village over. When I got to that village he had moved on to the next. I tell you Lord, I didn’t think my old rickety airplane or my fuel, not to mention my heart, was going to last through that one. Excuse me for laughing Lord, every time I remember finding him in that new village, where no missionary had ever gone, I just have this uncontrollable urge to throw my hands in the air and laugh with thanksgiving and praise. To think, my young 10-year-old son started a new work all by himself. Yes, Lord, thank you for giving me back my boy that day. He has been a blessing.
You know, Lord, I think he told me the other day he has over 80 thousand people enrolled in correspondence in Guatamela now. What a ministry! He has been like Elisha, with a double portion. Thank you Lord for a son like that. Yes Lord, thank you for all 5 of my kids. Hard to believe they are all over 30 years old now. I tell you Lord, if I can’t do all the ministry I had my heart set on, it is mighty satisfying seeing my own sons and daughters doing it. Such a blessing Lord—such a blessing. Thank you Lord, for using every one of my children to your honor and grace. Yes, you have been so good.
Oh Lord, help me to remember to read that book that man’s been after me to read, that deeper life book by that China man. I guess I need to do that Lord, but I’m getting old and there is so little time left to reach this last people group over in the far southwest. Now lord, I got an idea to air drop a bunch of tracts; say about ten thousand or so over eight of their villages. I know no one has written their language yet, but I heard some of those folks come out of the mountains to trade, and they have to know some Spanish. So the way I figure it, if the people find a strange piece of paper they will take it to someone that might know how to read Spanish. Its’ an idea, Lord. You let me know if it is from you. I’m running out of time and there are still so many who have never heard. Lord, right now raise up someone to go to those tribes, you told us to pray for laborers and I want to go on record again Lord, we need some hard working, hard walking man to finish these mountains. I’ll tell them at this next meeting and maybe someone will decide to stop waiting for a lightening bolt and just obey your last command.
You know Lord I hate to have to go back to the States to another one of those meetings. They bore me to tears, spending half the night fussing about little differences. They are almost as bad as those seeking the mind of God about fasting meetings and never just open the Book. Excuse me, Lord I’m laughing again. Those folks don’t know what fasting is, do they Lord. You remember that time I was up in—now I can’t even remember where we were that time Lord—but anyway, I’d been without food so long, I was tempted to try the stones for bread. I sure was glad that Indian family showed up with tortillas. Best tasting stuff I ever ate. Yes, Lord we have had some mighty lean times. I tell you, I’ve eaten all kinds of dogs, snakes, lizards, and other critters in my day—talking about unclean meat, but I guess its best not tell those folks that kinda stuff. Might scare them off from going. Of course, not many folks are doing any going anyway. Too busy preaching about going deeper or fussing about some doctrine.
Well, Lord, I was going to ask you about this problem I’ve run into about the translation of these people’s Bible. I need some wisdom here Lord, you know I really want these people to know your Word. Ouch! I wish I had my young legs back; and Lord about the village over in the south......
This story is based on fact, though the conversation with God is imagination. He and his wife are still behind the plough, being “doers of the word, and not hearers only.”