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Sermons of
Rev. Orland Wolfram (1912-1987)
Pillar of Fire Church
Missionary to Guatemala

The Blood of Martyrs Watered the Seed of the Gospel


Orland Wolfram



THE BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS WATERED THE SEED OF THE GOSPEL



The first evangelical Christians suffered violent persecutions in each country of Latin America for a time, then gradually there was more acceptance, more conversions, finally no outward physical threats, though always as in every land, the true follower of Christ finds himself held out of the fellowship of the worldly majority. There were martyrs for the name of Christ in each country before more acceptance and safety was assured. There is an area in Guatemala that was especially known as the center of old style Roman Catholicism, centering around Antigua which had been the capitol before that was moved to Guatemala City.


We are at this writing celebrating a special revival and expansion in Cuidad Vieja, one of the suburb town of Antiqua. We are especially feeling joyous victory there since that locale was one of the most fanatical of the whole hard area. Some there suffered every kind of persecution for years before a formal, very small meeting place could be opened at all. But, then gradually and with patience, the people attending grew in numbers, as well as in Christian maturity, so that the building walls were moved out to make more room. In fact, this had to be done twice and it is this second expansion and corresponding new large roof which is being celebrated. The reports are that already in the pre-inaugural meetings, the place is packed.


What happened is that there were many conversions through the years but the people generally did not want to stand the ostracism from their old religionists. So they moved to the city to attend evangelical churches where it was already more acceptable. But now that even famous old fanatical Ciudad Vieja has calm instead of violent threats. They are moving back.


Special help, financial and otherwise, was always needed for some of these very hard places, I felt, so our Mision Biblica, that is yours, has sent money and workers more regularly than in many other places where the Gospel work grew fast of itself once some opening meetings were held. The first meetings in Ciudad Vieja was in a small one room shanty make of corn stalks placed vertically side by side and kept in place by some horizontal stalks inside and outside, tied with home-made fiber string. The roof was of big banana leaves. The people met secretly without any sort of sign outside on the street. When our little band of open air preachers was invited to visit and help there, it was also explained that it would be dangerous to have any sort of campaign or larger meetings, much less have meetings out in their plaza. Some of the brethren helping with the open air meetings in the city felt it was foolhardy rather than brave to go out to infamous Ciudad Vieja to ask for an attack. What should we do? It was decided to not make a decision until we had some special guidance so that any such moves would be really of Him and not of Alote Nango. There had been a violent attack during a campaign that had left the pastor dead and his family stoned.


The young evangelist was Max Vasquez, a very spiritual, godly man with a Holiness group. As long as he held more or less secret meetings behind closed doors, all was quiet, except for an occasional rock thrown up onto the tin roof to annoy the people inside with its explosive clang. When the growing group built a church and then advertised a campaign, the threats began to mount. Tormented by the Catholic priest who urged on the mob, but did not openly lead them in any attacks. Catholics in the city were divided, some holding the protestants or evangelicos ought to be stoned, or stay clear out of their country which was Catholic. Others of more education and who had travelled more, said, "Any such violence would be just individual fanatics, NOT the Church." There were those educated in many fields, but they did not know the past history of the Catholic Church which has always down through the centuries practiced every form of violence, war, and torture to keep or to expand its hold on people, individuals, or countries. The countless burnings at the stake, the inventions of the rack and every novel form of torture was used to carry on their Inquisitions. When convenient the priests and cardinals would take charge of any such program; if there was to great a reaction against the cruel, godlessness of the Roman clergy, they would direct those same countless tortures and deaths from behind the scenes but with their faithful civil authorities and soldiers carrying it on more openly. Not infrequently, a man or woman would be killed which would raise a cry of opposition from the people who held him or her as a saint who had won great miracles for them. Then the hierarchy in Rome would cover up that they had given their approval and attributed the error to an over-zealous priest who had made a mistake. Then the hierarchy would proclaim the martyred person an official saint of the Church.


Now, here is a viewpoint that has its basis in truth but is often misused. Catholics having to face such conditions will often reply, "Yes. The priests are human and subject to error. They also may live and sin, still, the true Church is spotless. Yes, the bishops, cardinals and popes themselves have an awesome obscene history of murders, poisonings, intrigues, starting wars, and maintaining mistresses and frequenting orgies, but they are are just loved and held by all to be above reproach."


The Bible people have to admit that this is true, except that the true Church is an invisible spiritual body, and the visible organization is NOT the Roman Catholic Church. Rather, that Church is not really Christian, but exactly fits the anti- Christian characteristics. It also fits the prophecies of the great whore spoken of in Revelation 17.


There is now in our age a most interesting development, a Reformation and Revolution WITHIN the Catholic Church itself.


The True Church is made up of the truly saved who may be in a denomination. This has to be true for even the Catholics, though that charitable viewpoint can be understandably difficult to a true Bible saint to see when he is being burnt at the stake by some Catholic priests. The percentage of truly saved may have been tragically small in medieval times, less than a tenth of one percent, but still true. There were those who called themselves Catholic who also testified to a personal saving faith in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and, whose life showed the change from the permissive practices of former years when they had religion but lived in continual sin.


Likewise, we must see and admit there are plenty of Protestants who are very religious, but who have never been born again and who know nothing about the way of the cross with its reproach and separation from the world and the love of the things of the world.


In bygone years of preaching the Gospel in these fanatically Catholic regions, such niceties were seldom expressed. The Catholics attacked and our new converts, if they endured the bricks, still had to further endure being cast out by their old friends, perhaps loss of family and a job. These in turn preached that anyone really saved would of course and of necessity leave the Catholic Church completely and stand up with the little flock of Evangelicos.


So few of us American Gringos stood with them in those dangerous places. Christians warned us that we should stick to some perhaps still somewhat dangerous places around, but not in Ciudad Vieja. That was too extreme. They had gone into Alotenango after the bloody rioting attack, found the new church wrecked, just about demolished, and the dead pastor amid all the debris and stones cast. The wife also apparently was dead and their baby, but closer study showed she was stunned and unconscious. She regained consciousness, and the baby was awakened by the din, toddled out to look for mother, found her and daddy "asleep" and laid down with them, to be found there a little later by friends when they arrived.


Ciudad Vieja had vowed that although the Evangelicos had returned to preach and continue in Alotenango, it would never be permitted in Ciudad Vieja if they had to kill ten times more than one evangelist. But, after a holding on to the Lord for both guidance and the required bravery or willingness to die for the name of the Lord, some of us went in. We suffered all kinds of threats, destruction of the buildings, and some bruises, but each time before the crisis of a final wave in the attack, the Lord worked some miracle time after time. After some extended times of prayer, I felt it would be a privilege to die as a martyr of old. Later on telling of the experience there, I testified that evidently I was not worthy to be a martyr. Numerous people told of all kinds of narrow escapes.


One told of starting a meeting and holding on for a while, as the attackers grew, working themselves up, then as they attacked, the evangelist ran out the back door, and dived through the hedge into the back yard of a neighbor. Returning later, he found all the furniture broken and thrown into the well and every door broken in splinters. He later came back with us to continue meetings.


We had meetings in the market-plaza. We found the local village police who were supposed to keep the plaza, claimed us for disturbing the peace when there was a crowd threatening, so they might join in with the attackers.


Usually trouble would start when one or two individuals listening would begin to heckle, then start throwing dust, peach pits, or tomatoes. They would hope that if they continued, others passing by would join until there was a full scale riot against us. On this day, the two attackers we interrupted as one realized that it was time to start his little bus to the next village. When he started up, he banged the fender of another car, at which the second man who had been disturbing us, began a stream of obscenities and went to attack the first driver. Soon they were at each other with a tire iron and monkey wrench until they were blinded by blood and bruises.

A salesman from the city who was a believer, told it all over that he had watched the growing attack upon us at first, feeling sorry for us, but not knowing what could be done, and then his utter surprise at seeing the table completely reversed so that our attackers were fighting each other. While we were not defending ourselves in any way, still we had not suffered a single bruise whereas the attackers were battered and bloody. "Most amazing thing I ever saw in my life," he repeated everywhere. "It was a story from the Old Testament when God would intervene to route an enemy and protect His people."

So, in that infamous old town the Mision Biblica has given special help in evangelists and money, until now there is a church twice or thrice enlarged and still full and growing. They have also put in large doors and windows in front so that a crowd can hear the Gospel and the singing from out in the street.




CHARISMATICS


When the converts had been through such experiences, showing they really had faith in the Lord Jesus and were true to His Name even if they had to pay with being cast out of the midst of their old friends and way of life, they naturally had no faith in the sincerity of the Charismatic Movement they heard about in the US Roman Catholic Church, and where its beginnings really were. Showing there had always been a gold threat of true believers who saw that Christ's Church was something very different. There were scattered little groups like the Waldensians, hunted and persecuted in nearly every region in every century, Hussites and Pre-Huguenots even before the days of Martin Luther.


This booklet was in great demand. New converts wanted to study such things, then go around to argue with their old Catholic friends. Gradually it became apparent the situation in these Latin-American countries was changing. The persecution had tapered off. Every evangelical church was growing and then opening up branch "campos" in outlying districts. Those not converted were usually respectful. In the open air meetings there were great crowds and the disturbances usually came from other groups that called themselves Bible Evangelicals but helped out mostly on some sectarian who saw or lauded the name of their own leader. As the church grows, divisions multiplied even as they had in the Bible times of St Paul, who was saddened by carnal attacks on himself but added still he was thankful the everywhere Christ is preached.


In such a situation, if some say they have been born again but still call themselves Catholics, we go slow on our old former position. I am acquainted with some charismatics personally, attended some of their meetings, studied and held back judging for a time. It became apparent to our evangelical groups that God was doing a work there also. Those people were studying their Bibles regularly, seriously, where before they had burnt them. They learned all our evangelical songs born of the Spirit, gave Bible portions from St John to their fellow Catholics saying if they were not born again they could not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Of final proof, their lives have changed to living like Christians instead of using their religion as a permissive way one could live in every kind of sin, be forgiven periodically, while still cynically continuing. Now there was change, repentance instead of penance, fundamental difference. In these early days the difference of viewpoint between the Pentecostal Spirit and the old orthodox Holiness Spirit was not uppermost. We shall study that at a later time. Now we are talking of justification, being saved. I was convinced it would be very dangerous to declare as lost, unsaved, and misguided, any who testified their faith was in the blood of Christ, and testified they personally had a living faith and walk with Him.


They view is generally held now by most Evangelicals here. We have found that God works with His Catholic children. Gradually the old extreme bondage to all Catholic rituals and customs is replaced by doctrines and customs of the early church, adopted as these people seriously study their Bibles. They attend meetings in both the Evangelical places and in the Catholic churches. They hold such Bible meetings in their Catholic churches but do not pray to the saints and the statues there. After a time many do leave, others say they remain to bring others to really know Christ, and anyway don't the best Evangelical churches preach that joining their denomination of itself cannot save, it is only Christ and His blood that can save.


We see that God has been doing a great work, a second Reformation. The first was calling out the Wycliff, Lutherasns, and Calvinists. The second is internal, within the Catholic Church.


I spoke to some friends and wrote to others whom I had been hammering at previously that if they wanted to be saved, they had to leave their old church. I admitted that though such a view was doubtless right at some times and places, I would be mistaken not to admit that today God is not doing a great work within the Catholic Church.


Is the Catholic Church still the Great Harlot of Revelation 17? To be carefully stated, the figure represents ALL people who hold false religious views that permit them to live permissively in sin, them participate in evil politics on the beast of evil governments and directly or indirectly persecute the true believers. The Catholic system used to fit that picture exactly. Now it fits only partially while there are also great majorities of Protestants fallen, worldly and decadent who fit.


There is also a revolution within the Catholic system where the members are not Bible believers, but humanistic, atheistic, left wing activists who openly make fun of the Papal declarations and pretensions. Revelation 17 foretells the Beast of ---- what's the word that includes commercial, educational, and governmental, but not religious? We will at last turn on the Harlot and burn her and her daughters. That is already begun and far underway.


How many of you remember a generation or so ago when the Catholic Church made a definite planned efforts to gain political control of all the major cities in the U.S.? Have you read accounts by Christians how they prayed and feared that movement until the Lord raised up as counter wave movement to ward it off? It was known also as the Klan of Klu Klux Klan, but was not to be confused with the Southern Klan which was to terrorize Negroes. The Northern Klan was pushed by Christians who worked to keep the menace of Catholic political power at bay. When it succeeded, the Northern Klan disbanded. The Catholics are no longer a threat in politics. There has been an internal revolution as well as Reformation.




ANTIGUA


Antigua is the city which dominates an area of thirteen or fifteen smaller towns, nestled between mountains and volcanos. It used to be the capital of Guatemala, and was especially the center of the priests' early power until a century or two ago when the Vulcan de Agua, the Water Volcano, broke out in a greater way than usual. It broke open the lake that was held in its cone, sending torrents over Antigua and other towns, leaving much in ruins.


These ruins and partly usable churches can be seen in the central area in wondrous quantities for a limited population. The explanation is that the priests competed to build the largest most imposing churches without regarding the need of any congregations, the labor being supplied by forced labor and enslaving the Indians. Now the ruins are a tourist attraction. The sections that still have roofs are used as museums and concert halls. About one in five are still used as regular churches. One partial ruin was the church of Hermano (Brother Pedro, who helped the poor, and worked miracles of healing in those early years and has recently been made a Saint by the Vatican). Two or three blocks away the tourists are shown where scores of skeletons were uncovered under the basement floor of the convent, the guides explaining that the nuns, besides their duties in prayer, were to be available to the priests, but since some people in early times might not understand, when babies were born, they were killed, but only after being faithfully baptized. Some now might wonder that Catholics there would still follow such a religion. Actually it is exactly the kind of religion that attracts the great masses, permitting them license for their sins but some comfort of religion.

When our little group began to hold open air meetings in Antigua, we would be continually harassed various ways, but without actually having an organized mob set upon us. People in the market area were generally from the smaller towns around, not easily organized by some priests. Also, the authorities had to be careful not to shock the tourists so the police would only come to take us to the city office, ask us to show our permit, which, of course, they knew we did not have and did not need. They would hold us a while and threaten, but then release us, at which we would go to preaching again, but usually a block or two away from the former spot. Peter and John, when released from prison, when back to the Temple to continue. It seems to be the Bible way.


Though not in organized mobs, there was almost continual heckling and throwing of refuse. One memorable day we were in front of a rather formal store preaching and playing our instruments between annoyances, when the owner of the place came out to see what was going on. After some minutes he rushed between us and our annoyers shouting, "You ignorant savages, can't you see these are well educated cultured people? Listen to their music. I am," he shouted. He was one of Guatemala's recognized musicians. He finished by saying, "These fellows are artists." Then he turned to us and spoke in English, repeating that they were just ignorant savages. Some years back he had been a professional musician in some of the large orchestras of New York. I cultivated his friendship and kept in touch for years.


Now there are more Evangelical churches is Antigua than I can say, and several of them hold meetings regularly in the Central Park, and others in the market area with no disturbances. One of the rather isolated towns is famous for the Indian hand loom weaving. This town is called Aguas Calientes, place of hot springs. There are various places there at the base of the Volcan de Fuego, where all the springs are hot, hot water for bathing everywhere, hot water swimming pools. The problem is for those who prefer cold water. For drinking they must set a bucketful aside until it cools. The handwoven garments and blankets are amazingly intricate, primitive and beautiful. Some of you have received Indian jackets or blankets made there by some of those Indians who are now faithful believers and have several thriving congregations.


Most of your remember the severe earthquake that hit Guatemala a few years ago. The famous ruins of Antigua were not primarily of that quake, however, but caused by several previous ones which seem to reoccur approximately each fifty-five years or so. When one quake would ruin a large church, the next priest, architect, builder would make the new structure with still thicker walls.a They knew nothing, of course, of reinforced concrete. The building material was brick with lime for mortar made actually about six feet. However, a characteristic of earthquakes is that the destructive stresses are lateral, so that the heavier the walls, the more liable to collapse they were.


An eruption of Volcans de Fuego came in our second year there. The ash was spewed thickly over a great area, causing sudden loss of life and ruining the crops so the poor people were suffering hunger and poverty. There were various groups of believers in the area so we bought basic foods in areas not damaged to haul it to the needy, "beginning with the household of faith," as it says in the Bible of helping the saints who are in need.


When the ash fell on houses, the owners worked valiantly to clear sit off at once. Those who were too lazy or indifferent to do so found that the ash which was too light and fluffy to do any roof damage when dry, became dangerously heavy during a rain wrecking the roof and house and killing some of the inmates.


We were busy after the eruption for a while in both the preaching in market places and friendly churches, and in taking in some material help for those in need.




HOLY WEEK IN ANTIGUA


People from Protestant countries may never have seen a Catholic procession. In Catholic countries the processions out in the streets are a regular part of ceremony and worship. Every village chooses a patron saint and on this saint's yearly day all other activity stops. The church is decorated with criss- crossing ribbons and crepe paper, flowers and palm branches. The statues are brought out of their usual niches, cleaned, and dressed in clean robes and mounted on a platform to be carried by twelve to fifty men, depending on how small, large, or involved it was. Church members are supposed to view the permission to carry these statues seriously, thereby, also doing penance for their sins.


Meanwhile, the women accompany with songs and garlands, alternating with the church brass band, playing slow dirges while church officials carry censors which give off clouds of a heavy incense smoke which add a little other worldly drugged effect, especially at night when they use primitive torches for lighting.


During Holy Week, Antigua becomes the center of the country's life, with visitors and pilgrims thronging in from all over the whole country and also from neighboring El Salvador.


During that week, processions were continuous day and night, all of its many, many churches participating, each with its own statues and participants. Most of the participation comes from the Cathedral, which Antigua is proud to have because it is the capitol, previously called Guatemala, but now officially is Antigua (Old Guatemala).


Householders prepared intricate and beautiful designs in the street near their houses. The designs would be made of flower petals, leaves or colored sawdust, kept carefully from traffic or the feet of passersby. Then the procession would draw near. The foremost officials would murmur how beautiful it was, nod and give a blessing toward the house, making the sign of the cross with delicately curved fingers. The household would feel blessed as the hundreds of processional steps obliterated it all in a few moments. They had poured out their sin over the feet of Jesus.


Meanwhile, we were busy also, carrying on gospel meetings on one street after another to the throngs that flocked in from mountains, villages and distant cities. We would be given all kinds of responses. Many would listen respectfully as we read Bible passages relating to the Crucifixion and then explained the significances that they had not realized before. Others came to see the show, listen to the music and pass on. Others tried to bother, heckle and throw anything available from the streets, but they were not organized to do us serious harm. The priests were to busy with their programs that week.


There is a strange mixture of the serious-religious, the holiday merry-making and the heavy drinking. Venders also flock into the city to sell souvenirs, candy, or coffee and cakes. Some have a complete hot food stand. Others bring in portable hurdy gurdies for the children to ride, and small ferris wheels, which they call "chica-o", because they first heard of such marvels during the time of the Chicago World Fair at the turn of the century.


Sometimes some heckler would yell, "We don't want your Yankee religion, gringo, foreigner. Here we are Roman Catholic." At which I would change my sermon to say and ask, "Catholicism was not the religion of Guatemala. It came from Rome! Do you know how those cruel Spanish conquistadors made converts? Do you know the actual history of that?" The more educated would nod. They knew what was coming. The less educated Camposinos and Indians just stopped in worried suspense. I continued, " They did not come with love or awaiting your heart and free will. They did not even show the least of mercy. They came with the sword, and your ancestors were forced to bow or burn. Anyone hesitating or keeping their old Mayan gods secretly were killed, and the others had to endure much slavery, building these great church buildings. They died by the thousands."


Actually, some of the priests complain to their superiors in Rome and Spain about such treatment, but they were never heeded. The majority of the priests and soldiers could take over the gold, silver and other valuables of the conquered Indians, use some in the new local churches, and send some to Madrid and Rome. So I would say, "We come with no sword, no force, just the Bible, telling of the love of Christ and how to be saved according to the Word of God. Are you going now to fight against the gospel with violence? You were forced into that religion. Would you use force to defend it? Come now, and hear the words of God on how you can have a new heart and no longer be a slave of sin. He has promised to give a saved heart if you repent, instead of just doing penance every so often repeatedly while still living in sin, which makes you suffer so in heart."


Such were the early years there. Now God has given great victories. At any open air meeting you can see that a significant proportion of the passersby are believers. They smile at you as they pass. Some join in for a while, no longer giving serious threats except from some drunk individual who shouts, "I'm a Catholic, and always will be." Tracts are given out, accepted and read. Rarely now are they defiantly torn up as before. They still have the processions, but evidently the general spirit is more of a parade of interest to visitors and tourists, holiday and history, rather that being taken very piously, at least for the majority, although there are always some very serious ones.


A nun sister who has been visiting the charismatic meetings, told be some of the priests who had formerly worked against charismatics getting started in their church, finally decided they were losing too many to the evangelicos, and changed. They decided to let the charismatics use the church building.


We are in the Lent season, but in another few weeks it will be the new Holy Week time. Now most of Guatemala is aware that it is better to serve a living Christ, rather than to worship a sad and dead figure on the cross. The living Christ can make us victorious and rejoicing. We can be joyful on the wine of the Spirit, avoiding the evils of requiring alcohol to find happiness.




MEXICO


The early campaigns in Mexico were especially interesting since all was so completely new. Every day brought its wonders both in meetings and in the native people.


Years ago it had been impressed on me that time was too short and the Lord's money too precious to spend in traveling to far places as a tourist. One should not condemn such travels as evil, but it was usually moving away from the self sacrificing primitive church ways over toward the more nominal ways of the Laodicean Church. So I resolved to await seeing the tourist sights only when they were on the way to the next campaign.


This yielded some unexpected good results. Writers often express their view that a fast guided tour is a thing of utter superficiality, that the things worth seeing are to be found off the beaten path, and must be taken slowly to understand the peoples' thoughts and customs. I gave up one kind of sight- seeing, and was given one far better, genuine and deep rather than a guide saying in a moving bus, "Here comes... There it went," of some historic spot.


The Indian tribes of Mexico had taken turns being dominant. The Toltecs were supplanted by the Aztecs. This latter people had come south, led by their seers who had foretold they would find a good area, when they saw an eagle with a snake in its claws. They did see that sign, but the place looked doubtful, at first, then proved very advantageous.


Incidentally, the Mexican eagle is only about a third the size of a big American eagle. They are bountiful in certain areas and Americans take them for hawks. The Mexican flag still has on it the eagle with the snake in its' talons.


The spot the Aztecs had come to was part lake and part swamp land. They had to make dugout canoes to get to the island in the lake, but it turned out that after they had raided some neighboring tribe, they would retire to their watery fortress, where the larger pursuing tribes could not catch them. So, for some centuries the Aztecs grew in number, strength and wealth while wasting and looting their neighboring tribes.


Then came Hernan Cortez and the Spanish Conquistadors. They had firearms, but historians still marvel over how a force of 300 or 600 such men could route, dominate and hold in slavery the perhaps 60,000 Indians in the area and thereon southward, tens of thousands of Aztecs, Incas and other tribes.


The study of that bit of history is most interesting, and I'll point out, after a bit, an element the historians did not include. The Aztecs had grown powerful following their priests and seers. But, a prophecy was also given that some gods were coming who would punish and destroy their kingdom. Finally, their lookouts came to say some dugout canoes had come to the shore which must have come from heaven because they had great white clouds and also were tremendous in size, like a house. When the beings had come ashore, they were not ordinary men because they had four legs, and could run as fast as a great jaguar, but did have two arms and a head like a man. The Spanish were mounted on horses which the Indians had never seen before and thought horse and rider was a single creature. Other outlooks reported they commanded the thunder and lighting and could kill with them bird or animal at greater distances that any arrow. They were surely the god's of the prophecy.


Most of the soldiers did not have so much faith in seers and prophecies. They wanted to fight, to drive those men or animals back into the sea. But the king, Montezuma, of the questionable fame in the phrase, Montezuma's Revenge, euphemism for that which happens to every gringo visiting Mexico, of which the worthiness is more in fear of priests that of armed men, was afraid to fight the gods and fate. He got plates made of solid gold along with other presents and sent them to the Spanish, hoping they would go away. But Cortez had greed whetted all the more by that display of wealth, reasoning, "If they can send us that much on the first encounter, how much they must not have sent." So they pressed on, but got the message across that they came only in peace and friendship, and after the visit, they would leave.


Montezuma, so crafty in dealing with other tribes for decades, was acting now like a mental defect. He sent boats and barges to bring the armed Spaniards across the waters and into his very palace. The Spanish took him hostage along with some others as shields, stripped the palace of the immense wealth of gold, silver and other fineries, and made their way back to the shore, killing any scattered, disorganized soldiers who came against them.


Later, the Indians attacked again, a bit more organized and in quantity, but by then the wily conquistadors had found Aztec enemies to help them. The Aztecs lost thousands and had their homes burned, but the Spanish lost about six men. The pattern was repeated over and over again southward into Guatemala and then into South America.


There was a battle in Guatemala with Tecun Uman, leading the Mayan Indians, and Pedro Alvarado, leading a new army of Spanish. Every Guatemalteco school boy now can repeat the legend that a Quetzal bird flew from the forest in the midst of the battle, saw a flying arrow heading for the heart of the chief and flew in front to take the deadly arrow in its own breast. The bird said it was better to die than accept captivity, and ever since then the Quetzal bird soon dies in captivity, and also from then on it has had a red breast. Now the bird is shown with its long, green tail and red breast gracing the Guatemalan flag.


Chief Tecun Uman was brave, and so was the Quetzal as well as the Mayan defenders, but the Spanish were again able to find and organize tribal enemies to do much of the fighting and they won, enslaved the natives and by force made them Catholics.


Studying such historical accounts and also studying the present natives, I came to the conclusion that God had dictated the outcome. Some Protestant evangelicals were surprised or shocked to hear me suggest that. But consider, the American Indian was treated differently but has not come to Jesus as Lord. They were treated shamefully by the whites and their hunting grounds were taken over, but there was no force to change them culturally or religiously. They still remain unconverted. Efforts by evangelistic missionaries say they are very hard, a discouraging field. In contrast, missionaries to the Central American Indians are unanimous. There is no fruitful field like here where they already know something of Jesus and the Bible stories. They never studied the Bible for themselves, but they were at least told it was God's Word. Now when one preaches with an open Bible in the hand, many listen with respect.


It was evidently better in God's sight to bring in Catholicism even by force, than let the pagan Indians continue in their original worship which contained so much of devil worship. There were regular human sacrifices on all those great pyramids visited nowadays by the tourist.


TEOTIHUACAN, just north of Mexico City, is the largest and most extensive of the pyramids. This is not one pyramid but an organized group of a series of them. The last time I was there, I sat in a shaded spot and let my nephew, Phillip Wolfram, climb all over taking pictures. A young Mexican woman, 18 or 20 years old, came along slowly, evidently waiting for someone. As an opening, I said, "Do you feel any mystical power here in this place?" She nodded. I added, "You would feel a lot more if you cut out the heart of virgin and hold it aloft up there while it was still beating." I was expecting another nod and smile at the quaint suggestion, but got instead an explosion. She said, "That's a lie! A lie by you priests! My people never did that. Some of us still keep the same religion, and I know my religion and people. That other was all a lie!" I spoke, trying to calm her. "I am not a priest, but have read that in histories. I am a Bible Evangelico and come with a story of great love, nothing of force. Some day if you ever feel the need of a God who is both alive and loving, turn to Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. At this point, she saw her companion and left.


How much blood was shed up there atop that pyramid? How much blood shed all over the region in the tribal never ending warfare? A skeptic may say, "There is still a bloody battle between Christian so-called civilized countries. Christianity has failed too." Christ is the Prince of Peace, and there is peace for all who will follow Him. But, mankind generally is really not only nominally. Man generally crucifies the principles of Christ continually, but soon now, He is coming again to set up His Kingdom in true peace, the only peace the fallen world has known.




THE FLOATING GARDENS OF YOCHIMILCO



When the Aztecs discovered they could live on the island in the midst of the lake and marshes, they were surprised to learn also that only the central part of their island was really solid land, and the most of the space on which they trod and built their shanties was really a floating island. This natural wonder interests us all today to understand how this could be, but in some tropical climates there is a plant which has its roots on the bottom, sends the stems to the surface, then sprouts a bulb full of air to maintain leaves and flowers in the air and sunshine. This surface vegetation can grow to become so thick it will support even light structures.


Centuries later when the Mexicans wished to build in a more formal way, they had to drain the swamps, but this could be done only imperfectly because the Mexico City area is surrounded so completely by mountains, one of which is that super volcano "Popocatepatl", over 18,000 feet high, a peak whose base begins within the city and rises sharply upward most dramatically, but which few visitors to the city have actually seen because its upper reaches are usually covered with clouds.


In our modern area, all of the major larger buildings of the central part of the city have been bothered by their foundations sinking in the imperfectly drained soil. It was thought no skyscraper could ever be built there, but then an adequate drainage canal was tunneled through a mountain, so now the buildings are more solid and there are a few relatively high buildings. Of course, they are nothing like New York's buildings, which are built over solid rock.


There is still one section of the old floating gardens still to be seen on one edge of the city and much used by the city dwellers as a place for excursions. There one rents a gondola while the boatman slowly poles his passengers between the flowering banks, and a bard with his guitar sings perched in the bow. If you have a large party you can rent a floating restaurant complete with orchestra and able to serve twenty or thirty guests. Some say it is more beautiful than Venice.


Between studying the history, learning the life style of the people and visiting the interesting spots, one maintains in first place helping with the gospel meetings, visitation, and open air meetings , but the latter was more complicated in the big cities of Mexico than in Guatemala due to laws and past history.


Just about one hundred years ago a movement began to grow all over Latin American lands dedicated to bring in more education, hygiene, and prosperity. These people were politicians, statesmen and professors in the universities. They were not religious, were in no way Protestant preachers, but they universally came to the conclusion that a key part of the block to progress was the Catholic Church and its stifling control over every facet of life, stifling any hope of all real progress. They finally, against fierce resistance by the church, brought in the Reform. Now every Latin American country has its Dìa de la Reforma, when they won the final victory after political and battle field fighting. In Guatemala, the government invited in first the Presbyterian Church from the United States to bring in and set up churches, schools and hospitals, and then later other religious groups. At the same time it decreed liberty of speech, political and religious, even in open air meetings, though this is cut off temporarily at times after abuses by radical left wing tormentors.


In Mexico, the government at first closed up all the churches, then reopened them for use but still maintains all churches are the property and under control of the state. Priests and nuns could continue their services but without any religious habit-dress to distinguish them from the people and hold in awe the uneducated peons. Especially the clergy was to get out of government and politics and stay out. This latter they have not done. The church officials have historically throughout the centuries, always worked for political power and material wealth. The church has gradually wormed its way toward its former governmental power spots. However, there has been an internal reformation-revolution in the Catholic Church brought on by its own people becoming more educated, open minded, and hearing the preaching of the Bible. In the U. S., Rome is no longer a political threat to liberty. In Latin countries, its influence is divided, some of the bishops trying to get more control of the ministers and ministries of the government in power, while the radical wing is out with the guerrillas or tormenting radical goals among the poor.


We Evangelicos, watch and study, but stay out of both right- wing politics and left-wing activism. We let the world fight, but we preach how to find peace and to know the Prince of Peace.




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