ITINERANT EVANGELISM has its ups and downs. Sometimes there is joy in seeing a deep interest in the message, with crowds gathering round to hear, and very often immediate and definite fruit. At other times there is nothing but disappointment because of no apparent interest or result of any kind. It is an experience of this latter my story speaks.

We had been travelling through Goiás State, visiting many towns and villages, and also lonely fazendas, distributing Scriptures, preaching, and holding open-air meetings as opportunity offered. One day, after a hard day’s travel, we arrived at a little village where there were no crentes, and where, so far as we knew, the Gospel had never been preached. With no one to offer us hospitality, therefore, we were forced to put up for the night at a poor little inn where we could at least get a meal of sorts and a bed. It was dark when we arrived, and we were tired after a long day in the saddle, and sorely tempted to turn in and get some sleep. But we knew we must at least give a testimony and leave some message in this lonely spot. So after a meal, we sallied forth into the village square round which the poor houses were built; lit up our acetylene lamps; and lifted up our rather weary voices and sang one or two Gospel hymns in the hope that curiosity at least would bring some of the villagers out to see and listen.

Alas, they did not seem to be even curious - or were they shy? – or perhaps fearful that we were some of these heretics of the nova seita against whom the priest had warned them? Anyhow, not one of that village ventured to come out and see what it was all about. Many of them did, however, open their doors to watch and listen, for we could see in the darkness the glowing ends of their charutos – cigars – as they lolled in the doorways, though we could not even see the outline of their figures or whether they were men or women.

However, we preached and told the old story in the hope that some of the good seed would fall into receptive soil; and ere we lay down that night we prayed that it might be so. We left early next morning, though, without even a greeting or word of any kind from that sullen and hostile village.

It was many years later, in a different part of Brazil, that I was again on the road. I had been holding services in a small town where there was a growing Church; and as I was new to that part of the country, when I left on my journey, a crente volunteered to put me on my way. He was a strapping chap in his prime, full of life and happiness, and evidently one of the leaders in the church. As we rode, we chatted of this and that; then I said to him suddenly:

“By the way, how did you come to be a crente, a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ?”

He smiled happily if a little shyly, and said:

“I wanted to tell you about that. Do you remember once passing through a little village in Goiás State? You put up at the inn, and after dark you and another man came out into the praça, lit a lamp and began to sing and preach the Gospel. But nobody came out to hear.”

“Yes,” I said, “I remember that night well, and how disappointed we were. There did not seem to be a soul in the place; but I knew they were there because I saw the glow from the end of their cigars as they stood in the doorways smoking and, we hoped, listening.”

“That’s right,” he said. “Well, I was at the other end of one of those cigars! And that’s how I came to hear the Gospel, and that’s how I am in the Lord’s work now.”


From: Anon, True Stories Re-told. London: Evangelical Union of South America, 1965, pages 49,50