By Nell Kercheville
Have you ever learned a foreign language just for the express purpose of preaching the gospel to those in another country? Have you ever left your home and the surroundings you are so accustomed to and comfortable with to go to another land and preach to a humble and sincere people? Have you ever been blessed to stay in the home of one of these people and sleep on the floor with the rest of the family, all in their one-room house? In the middle of the night you awaken so sick that you have to get up and tread your way through the sleeping bodies to get outside since there is no indoor plumbing.
Have you ever repeatedly chosen without hesitation to travel into a country where you know that at some point you have a good chance of being sick? Have you ever been in a hotel room alone in that country and been so sick you think you might not live until morning? Because of your sickness you purposely do not lock the door for fear some-one will not be able to get to you to help. The next day the local preacher finally becomes worried and comes to see about you. You pray, “0 Lord, thank you for this good man.” He goes home and has his wife make “atole” (a rice drink) for you. How soothing it is! By the time evening services come you are so weak you can’t imagine being able to preach. But you must and you do. Too weak to stand, you have to sit while you preach. The thought occurs time and again in your mind, “Can I make it?” But then you look at all those eager faces. They have come to hear the gospel, but not as an American would hear, they have come to hear that which they have never heard before. As you preach you hear them exclaiming, “Que precioso!” (“How precious!”). Suddenly all your weariness is forgotten and you could preach all night to these who so desire to hear the Good News.
Have you ever traveled to another country to preach and found that the brethren have secured a huge tent for a meeting place? “Wonderful!” you think. But then you find out that the tent has to be moved, not once, but three more times. The tent has to be taken down and moved to another town and put up again, ready just in time for the next services. Your job? You are to crawl under this dusty dirty tent and put the poles in place while the men on the outside have several “business meetings” on how it should be done. (Ever attended a business meeting?) By the end of the day you are tired, dirty, and hungry. You have just enough time to get cleaned up and start preaching. The thought runs through your mind repeatedly, “Is this worth it?” But all those thoughts are soon erased when you see over 500 souls from the community who have gathered hungry to hear the pure gospel of our Lord. “Que precioso!” they say. “Que precioso!”
Have you ever had your ribs broken just before leaving on one of these trips? You travel over rugged bumpy dirt roads to reach a community where you arrive with your ribs in worse condition than when you left. The bed you sleep on is hard and when you roll over on one of those ribs wow, the pain! But on this trip you have a real treat. They have built a room for the visiting preacher. How nice, but then it strikes again, the “revenge.” This time you don’t have to climb over bodies because the men of the community have built the “little house” on the hill. You think, “What a relief, better than last time when there was nothing and the outhouse was just “out.” But then comes the negative side. Walking up that hill hour after hour in a weakened condition is no picnic. And then there is the little house. The men dug the hole too big for the house. Dig another hole? Naw, throw a couple of logs across the hole and set the little house on the logs. Have you ever tried to sit in a privy with a canvas for a door and the west wind blowing? You have to hold the canvas with one hand and steady yourself with the other so that you do not get thrown over by the rocking of the little house on the logs. But still you must preach as you hear the voices of hungry souls, “Que precioso!”
Have you ever been invited to the humble home of one of these Christians to eat? You tremble as you realize you may be taking food from their children. But you cannot refuse because they would be so hurt. How glad you are that you have come! The graciousness with which they serve you is so heartwarming that it often brings tears to your eyes. No matter what the obstacle, no matter the hardship, they serve you and give to you what they have. These people are so grateful for the precious words of life you have brought them. How precious the word of God! And now it is you who say, “Que precioso!” You go away knowing you have received much more than you have given.
After over fifty years of this work, you come to the evening of your life. Your steps are slower and your health fails. But you press on. The love of Christ constrains you. You work as long as there is breath and one more soul to save. As you reflect on your life you know that materially you have little and the hardships have been many. But oh what riches you do have. Would you change your life if you could do it over? No! “Que precioso!”
Guardian of Truth XL: 7 p. 9
April 4, 1996