Those of you who regularly read this blog know that I love to write about my experiences as a missionary in Old Mexico. I have written several posts concerning my philosophy of mission work, but in this post, I would like to introduce you to one of the most amazing Christians I have ever met. If I didn't write about him, you probably would never hear of him. He is an impoverished, uneducated, and, as far as this world is concerned,an unknown child of God who is living in a remote village in the state of Vera Cruz, Mexico. His name is Ranulfo Coto.
I did not have the privilege of being the first to bring the Gospel to Ranulfo. He had been a Christian for about 15 years when I met him. I had come to an area of Mexico that I assumed to be totally un-evangelized. However, sometime in the fall of 1993, I began to hear of a man who was preaching the "evangelio" in a village called Boca del Monte. I determined to go find him and see for myself if he was really preaching the truth. I seriously doubted it. I convinced a friend, named Ramon, to go with me and help me locate this alleged preacher of the Good News.
I will spare the details of the dangers and adventures we experienced that day, but I will say this: To say that Boca del Monte is remote is no exaggeration. However, we were able to find the village without getting lost. Upon our arrival, we asked the first person we met if there was a man there who preached the "evavangelio"?" Without hesitation he said, "Yes, his name is Ranulfo Coto and he lives right across the river (the river was actually a shallow stream.) in a house of sticks."
We waded across the "river" and climbed the steep bank on the other side. Again we asked where Ranulfo's house was located, and were pointed to it. Just as we had been told, the walls of the house were made of the hard spines of palm branches tied together with wire. At each of the 4 corners of the house a rough-cut, semi-strait tree trunk was set in the ground to support the roof and to which the walls were attached. The roof was made of a corrugated, tar-coated cardboard. A burro was tied at the door. Chickens, a pig, a cat,and several children ran in and out of the structure, as if this humble shack was the center of the world.
As we approached, a slender man stepped out of the dwelling and moved toward us. Ramon told him that we were trying to find Ranulfo Coto. He replied, "I am Ranulfo Coto (and about a half dozen other names) at your service."
I began to explain to him that I was a missionary from the "Estados Unitos", come to preach the gospel of Christ. I told him that I had heard that he also preached the Word, and that I wanted to know more about him and his work for Christ. I guess I expected him to break into a chorus of praise because I had come from afar professing to preach the Gospel, but he remained politely reserved as he said,"Yes, I would like to know more about you too." That was my first clue that this was no emotionally-controlled, jump-on-the-bandwagon man who could be easily impressed or easily influenced by anything other than Bible truth.
Just like a "Gringo", I pridefully assumed that I was there to check out his doctrine and methods. I was quite surprised to learn, however, that he was not going get too chummy with me until he had checked out my doctrine and methods.
In the interest of writing short posts that you will have time to read, I will continue the story in several posts. Stay tuned!