Chapter 14 - The Long Walk

Chapter 14 - The Long Walk

Ere the Las Quiguas assembly had been moved to San Esteban, three of the brethren, young in the faith, invited me to accompany them on a walking tour, to visit some of their relatives and to tell them of the Gospel. They had a donkey to carry the baggage which consisted of our hammocks, blankets (as we would be crossing high hills) and other necessary items for the trip. On the first day we reached the small village of La Arena, where there were a few Christians, so we had a meeting in a large room, and afterwards we slung our hammocks in the same room and spent a peaceful night. Sometime after this I was called to La Arena for a funeral. We had to carry the coffin several miles to the nearest cemetery and when we arrived the gravediggers had not finished their job. As it was raining I sought the shelter of the cemetery wall that was protected by tiles.

A young man came to my side, so I questioned him, if it were his funeral, where would his soul be? He looked very despondent and said that only the previous week they had buried his Christian father, and he admitted that he was not prepared to die. That night we had a meeting in the house and he was present. He bought a New Testament and seemed almost persuaded. Oh a later visit to that place, I enquired about him, and they told me that whilst employed on road construction, he thought that the dynamite fuse had gone out and went near to see, but in that moment the explosion took place and he was blown to pieces. How very sad! God had spoken to him but he allowed his opportunity to pass: “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1).

Then it was a two days’ walk over the hills to Chirgua, which at that time was a vast area of coffee plantations. We called at one of these places where an elderly Christian did the clerical work for his fanatical maiden sisters on their plantation, so we couldn’t stay there. The brethren had relatves in the same district, and there we were received with kindness. Next day being Lord’s Day, we went around in the morning distributing tracts. One ignorant laborer threatened me with his machete when I offered him a tract. In the afternoon we held a Gospel meeting under a large mango tree with a nice number of neighbors present. That night we were to sleep in a room with a man who had a loathsome ulcer. Windows and doors were all shut so I feared we would be suffocated but the rest assured me that ere morning it would get chilly. It so turned out and I had to get up and put on all my clothes to keep warm. There was a nice stream nearby so at daybreak I went down and bathed in the chilly water, feeling thus greatly invigorated for the long day’s march ahead. We ate our frugal meals seated on the ground beside the trail, after a brother would give thanks for the food. Although our eyes were closed we could hear people passing by, and no doubt impressed by such a strange sight. We reached the top of a mountain at dusk, where a sister of one of the brethren lived in a small hut. We arranged for a meeting that same night and some neighbors came in. We had very reduced sleeping quarters there, so I spread my hammock and blanket over the raised hearth, where the cooking was done and where it was a little warmer than the rest of the house. Some years later this humble woman moved to Puerto Cabello, was brought to Christ, and it was my privilege to visit her on her death-bed, with few earthly comforts but with the peace of God filling her soul. She asked me to read her the 23rd Psalm, and next day she was in the presence of her Saviour. Balaam said: “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” But he did not want to live the life of the righteous, so as he lived thus he died without hope.

At dawn we started down the mountain mule path for the village of Canoabo, far below. A wonderful panorama opened to our view, and as we contemplated those mountain sides with scattered settlements here and there, the question arose in my mind: “When will all those places get a chance to hear the Gospel?” We reached the conclusion that Venezuelan brethren and sisters, in whom the natives would have more confidence, were the ones for that work, and thus it eventually turned out; they opened up the way for us. We arrived at the village in the afternoon and my friends took me to see their relatives, hoping to get a good reception. After exchanging greetings and referring to family matters, the subject of the Gospel was broached. This took them by surprise and they closed up like clams. They wanted nothing more to do with us and didn’t even offer us a cup of coffee. So there was nothing for us to do but leave.

We then went to the house of other relatives, with the same unpleasant outcome. In their blind ignorance, the Gospel to them was rank heresy. We then decided to distribute tracts in the village and were doing nicely when a boy came out of a house and asked for a tract. The priest had sent him and upon examining it he came out and called a policeman who happened to be on the street, ordering him to arrest the brother and take him to the civil authority. This latter, upon enquiring as to the charge, told the policeman to release our brother immediately, as he had not violated any law. By this time the priest had a crowd out on the street in a threatening attitude, so we decided to move on. We had gone all day without anything to eat and now night would soon overtake us, so a brother went and bought some pork cracklings, cheese and bread, and we started out over the donkey trail. As we became so tired we decided to lie down by the side of the trail. We just got settled down nicely when a swarm of carnivorous and stinging ants got the scent of our food. We had to fight them off ourselves and beat a hasty retreat, leaving our food behind us. We reached Urama at daybreak and were soon able to buy some are arepas the national form of hot breakfast corn cakes, and after doing justice to the meal, we started off on the last lap, which was a long one, and did not arrive home till dusk.
Today there is an assembly with a nice Gospel hall in that fanatical village of Canoabo and a Venezuelan evangelist makes his home there. The long journey from that village to Urama now only takes half-an-hour over a paved highway; and from Urama to Puerto Cabello, which took about eleven hours with the donkey, can now be done in a little more than half-an-hour by car. after Sunday School.
 

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Henry and Juana, leaving Gospel Hall, with their Bibles, now bright Christians.