In the last post, Ramon and I had finally found Ranulfo Coto, who had just come in from the field for his mid-day meal and siesta. He graciously invited us into his house with a "bienvenido! Mi casa es su casa." He introduced us to his wife who was simultaneously nursing a baby, heating tortillas on a piece of metal laid over an open flame, and yelling at the kids to run that pig out of the house.
At that time, Ranulfo and his wife had 7 children, the oldest being a young man of about 17 years old.(I regret that I didn't write these things down as they happened. As a consequence, I have forgotten the names of the family members.) Ranulfo wasn't sure, but he judged himself to be about 35 years old.
Ranulfo, like his father before him, was a share-cropper. That means that he did not own the land that he worked. He was allowed to work the land for the owner, who allowed him to take a percentage of the harvest as payment. He planted, tended and harvested two crops per year of corn. He would sell a small portion of it to get a small amount of cash for the necessities that could only be bought. Some of it was traded for rice, beans and such. The rest of the corn was used for food for the family. Ranulfo had never been to school a day in his life. His father had taught him to read, and had taught him rudimentary arithmetic.
As we talked that day, I learned a lot about Ranulfo's faith that really impressed me. I also learned much about the reality of God's faithfulness to His Word. Ranulfo had been saved about 15 years earlier when a missionary came through that area preaching the gospel. I don't recall the missionary's name, but he evidently had a great impact on people as he came through the country preaching the Word of God (During my time in Mexico, I heard of him several times).The missionary stayed only a few weeks, but as a result of his preaching, a number of people in Boca del Monte professed faith in Christ. Ranulfo was one of them.
After providing Bibles to those who wanted them, the missionary left the area. Ranulfo obtained a Bible for himself, his wife and one for their young child. When I met him, he had personally worn out every one of them and the last one, that he was still using, was in pieces.
After the missionary left, Ranulfo studied the Word diligently. He had a hunger for it and a desire to encourage others to love it too. He spoke to all those that had professed Christ while the missionary was there and encouraged them to read their Bibles. He attempted to keep them coming together as believers to encourage one another in the Word. They said "Why should we come together with no one to teach us? The missionary has abandoned us." Ranulfo responded, "I don't know much, but I will try to teach you what I learn from the Bible."
For a while, some of them came together to hear him teach, but little-by-little, they drifted away. Some went back to the Catholic church. Others just quit religion all together. However, Ranulfo stayed faithful. He spent whole nights on his knees with his Bible open, begging God for understanding and praying for his neighbors. Though none of his neighbors would come to hear him preach, he didn't quit. He diligently taught his family. Each of his children could quote large portions of the Word from memory. Even a three year old toddler, whose baby talk I understood not a word, would quote whole Psalms.
Eventually, in the providence of God, a man from a village 7 kilometers farther back in the hills(Sorry. I forgot the name of it), came and found Ranulfo. He said they had also received the Gospel of Christ, and there was a small group of believers that wanted to be taught from the Scriptures. From then on, they would alternate Sunday services in each village. One Sunday Ranulfo and his family would make the 7 kilometer trek to their village, and the next Sunday, the believers in that village would walk to Boca del Monte.
More to come. I hope to get the next one up a little quicker.