Out of Every Kindred, and Tongue, and People, and Nation: Iowa

I was born in Mexico City, Mexico. When I was only a few days old my parents baptized me into the dominant religion of Mexico. Their hope was that I would follow the traditions that our family had been following for hundreds of years. Before I started school we moved to the state of Campeche. There I grew up with little knowledge of the outside world. In my simplicity I assumed that everyone in the world followed the same traditions and I was quite content accepting them until I finished school and started to work. I worked on the police force or “judiciales,” as they are known in Mexico. They are one of the most feared police forces in Mexico, and with good reason. There, as a young man, I was exposed to violence, drugs, and corruption. We were paid little and supplemented our income by intimidation and brute force. Many times I left my shift to go home bothered by what I had seen and participated in. I was assured by the local religious leader that I would be okay with God as long as I continued in my traditions and passed along to him some of the money I had gotten illegally. My conscience still bothered me. I did not believe that traditions and money could make me right with God.

After several years working with the police I decided to go to the USA. I spent a year in Texas and then the promise of work took me to Dennison, Iowa. There I was invited to attend religious services. I soon observed that they were not following the Bible but rather the writings of a man called Mr. Smith. I had no idea who Mr. Smith was and asked the man who was leading the group why we were studying Mr. Smith’s book and not the Bible. The man got upset with me and I stopped attending.

The work that had taken me to Dennison was ending and I moved to Hampton, Iowa, in January of 2004. By this time I was disillusioned with religion and was not attending services of any kind. Not long after I arrived in Hampton, two men knocked on my door one Sunday afternoon and invited me to what they called a “gospel meeting.” I was embarrassed that they had seen me drinking beer when they had arrived at my apartment and to make up for it I promised them that I would attend that night. I cleaned myself up and went. I didn’t know what to expect. What I found out was this: that night Craig Saword and Aubrey Kelly were starting a gospel series and I was invited to come back each night. I did attend almost every night and I was impressed that each night the message was taken directly from the Bible. It was the first time in my life that I had heard someone read from the Bible. I had never owned a Bible in my life and I was given one that first week. I would go home from meeting each night and read my Bible well past midnight. Each night the preachers preached about sin. I did not need much convincing, as my sin was real to me and had bothered me for years. What interested me was that there was a way of knowing for sure that one was right with God. In the second week of the meetings I stayed behind to talk to someone about salvation. While hearing John 3:16 quoted in that personal conversation I simply rested on the Son. I believed that while my money could never pay for my sin, His payment for my sin was enough to make me right with God. My wife was saved the same night. The change in me, our marriage, and our home has been dramatic. This change spoke to our two teenaged daughters and they were saved some months later. We have been baptized and the four of us are in the fellowship of the assembly in Hampton. My desire is for others to come to know this same Savior. I talk to my family each week in Mexico and try to explain salvation to them. So far they haven’t let go of their traditions. But God is able.