An evangelist is a man specially prepared by God to reach others with the blessed gospel. He carries the seed, invests time in souls, feels the need that they see their deplorable condition, and leads them to Christ. An evangelist, like the good shepherd in Luke 15, will not stop until he sees a person in fellowship with God.
Perhaps not many are evangelists in the sense of Ephesians 4:11, but all of us must strive to do the work of an evangelist. I want to share something of how Kenneth E. Bigelow persisted in this noble exercise.
Born in Michigan, at age 11 he heard the gospel in a schoolyard, preached by people not associated with assemblies that we know. He bought a Bible to make sure that these people were teaching the truth about salvation based on Christ having died for our sins. He received Him as his Savior.
Kenneth settled in San Diego, worked as a postman, and was in fellowship with believers who gathered in the Lord’s name there. Impressed by the number of people in San Diego who spoke Spanish, he set out to learn their language so as to reach them for Christ. Unfortunately, family problems obliged him to relocate and rebuild his life. Still grateful to God for the salvation that he enjoyed, he devoted years to giving gospel tracts to migrant Latinos in the fields of Oregon. He did not see favorable results for a long time, but continued faithfully in this exercise among the pear pickers in Medford each August and September.
In 1991 he knocked on doors of itinerants working for the Naumes Company; he spoke to them of the Lord Jesus Christ. He found my father, Don Chucho, my four brothers, and me. Right off the bat, Mr. Bigelow asked us for the opportunity to talk about the Bible and what Christ did on the cross. This caught our attention because the day before, false witnesses made us doubt that God existed. We had talked about that among ourselves and were confused. Seeing this man with a Bible is his hand, we asked him to explain.
He showed us that God is one and triune at the same time, and went on to preach the gospel. He returned in three evenings, telling us from 1 Timothy 2:4 that God wants all men to be saved. Soon after, he asked if someone had already believed in Christ as Savior.
How surprised he was to hear that each of us were saved! He asked us one by one how it was that we believed in Him. I told him that I had been saved when hearing how the jailor in Acts 16 fell at the feet of Paul and Silas and exclaimed, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Of course, I had also learned that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” I had gone straight to my bunk, which was a tarpaulin stretched between two pipes. I had turned quietly to God and said, “God, I know I am a sinner before Thee and deserve eternal punishment. I realize that your beloved Son died to save sinners; He died on the cross for me.” That was on September 15, 1991.
Each of us gave his testimony that night. On returning home, Kenneth told his wife Belen about this family of six, saying that he could hardly believe that it was true. However, the following week he started to go through the Bible with us and taught us how Acts 2:41 called on saved people to be baptized.
When we told him that we wanted to be baptized, Mr. Bigelow purchased a drinking trough for horses, invited some assembly Christians to his backyard, and baptized Jorge first, then the other brothers, and finally Dad. Belen served a fine dinner. We had to return to Mexico. Before we left, he prayed for us. Thanks to God, we reached our state of Michoacan safely.
Kenneth did not wait long to visit when we returned the following year, and asked if we wanted to continue reading the Bible. We complained that we were too tired to read that day. One day we told him on the phone, “Kenneth, we are not going to be able to visit you, because we have punctured a tire.” (A lie!) Thirty minutes later, he was at the door, and said, “Since you could not come to me, I have come to you.”
That year he gave us a sketch of the entire Bible, knowing that possibly we would not return to Oregon. He also said, Lord willing, he would visit us in Meixco, perhaps arriving on January 11, 1993 at 3:00 in the afternoon. “I will want to know how you are doing.”
Back home, we made a plan to visit all the town of La Rinconada to preach the gospel. We thought that everyone would get saved, but that has not happened yet! We did not imagine that our mother and our sisters would be the first hurdle.
He arrived the day he had said he would. We heard the noise of a truck just as Guillermina and I were about to be married. We received Kenneth E. Bigelow with great joy, including him in the wedding dinner prepared by my mother. My wife, Heriberto´s wife, and my sister Jacqueline were baptized in Lake Camecuaro during that visit.
In 1994 he came again, preaching and teaching the Word of God. Kenneth cared so much for us that he looked for a contact here in Mexico, and this is how we met the Lord’s people in Puerto Vallarta. In his 1995 visit, he learned that we were in fellowship in the new assembly there.
It is very possible that our brother in Christ never imagined what would result from the time and effort he invested in us. He led us to the Savior, cared for us, showed us assembly fellowship and, thanks to God, the gospel reached Zamora. We ourselves cannot imagine the great things God can do. When one does the work of an evangelist, he invites a person to hear the Word, spends time with him, teaches and cares for him, longs to see him saved and in fellowship with other Christians.