A seed sown

 

 

WHEN Eduardo Palací was a youth of seventeen, as a part of his training as a student for the ministry he was sent out to try his hand at colportage work. One evening, as he was returning to his home at Huacho, after a visit to the neighbouring town of Huara, he met a man on horseback, who, by his gentlemanly bearing, vicuña poncho and elegant harness, he judged to be a prosperous farmer of the district, about forty years of age. After an exchange of greetings, the horseman asked the young man what he was doing at that time of day. In reply, Palací opened his valise and offered the farmer his last copy of the Bible, a well-bound volume with large type.

“The Bible!” exclaimed the farmer, with a look of surprise and curiosity. “I have heard speak of the Bible but I have never seen a copy. Would you mind reading some of it to me?”

Palací thereupon opened the Bible at the book of Exodus and read the account of the birth of Moses up to the time he was found among the bulrushes by the Egyptian princess. He then explained briefly the events that led up to the Crossing of the Red Sea. It all seemed to the listener an extraordinary story; and dismounting, he asked the young man to read some more from the Book. The colporteur then opened the New Testament and read the story of the birth of Jesus according to Luke, following with the story of the Wise Men in Matthew’s Gospel, and then passing on to John 3:1-16, the interview of Nicodemus with the Master.

By this time it was getting dark, and Palací could scarcely see to read. He therefore proceeded to speak to the farmer of the redemptive work of Christ, dwelling upon His death and resurrection; and concluded with his own personal experience of salvation, making his own the words of Paul – “Now, therefore, there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” A new light seemed to illumine the face of the man, as with a sigh of relief, he exclaimed: “I like that; that is exactly what I wanted to know!”

He then asked the price of the Bible, and as he proffered the money, he caught sight of another book in the valise and asked what is was. On being told it was a hymn-book, he enquired what it was for. “To sing in the Church and at our religious meetings,” replied Palací. The farmer therefore requested him to sing one of the hymns; and opening the hymn-book, the colporteur began to sing in Spanish the following hymn:

Come to the Saviour, make no delay;

Here in His Word He has shown us the way;

Here in our midst He is standing to-day,

Tenderly saying, “Come!”

“Sing it again,” insisted the listener, and Palací did so with gusto. The farmer liked the hymn so much that he asked if he might buy the hymn-book; and although it had his own name in it, Palací consented. And so the man became the happy possessor of both Bible and hymn-book.

The rider then mounted his horse, raised his hand in salute, said “Adios!” and rode away. Palací looked wistfully after him and, recalling the promise “My Word shall not return unto Me void,” lifted up his heart to God asking Him to bless the seed sown that day.

Twenty years passed. During the interval Palací journeyed throughout Latin America preaching the Gospel; and finally joined the Salvation Army and laboured for a time in the British West Indies and then in Costa Rica. Owing to sickness he had to return to his own country, Peru; and after three years he and his wife were transferred to Argentina as Salvation Army workers.

Then a missionary from Peru, whom Palací had known intimately years ago, called at the Salvation Army headquarters in Buenos Aires and asked to see him. Their joy at meeting after such a long time was almost indescribable. With what eagerness Palací listened as his friend told him of the progress of the work in Peru! Among other things the missionary asked him if he remembered selling a Bible to a well-todo farmer on the road between Huacho and Huara when he was a student. Palací replied that he well remembered the incident and had often wondered what had become of the Bible he had sold that day. His visitor then told him that only a few months ago he had received a letter from Huacho, signed by a man named Patricio, asking for a pastor to be sent to take charge of a church he had formed on his farm. The missionary said he had visited the place and had found a congregation that made him think of the Christian Church in early days. “Don Patricio,” as he is known by all, had read the Bible he had bought, and God had illumined him by His Holy Spirit. He had then gathered his family and the peons together on Sundays for worship, and he had explained to them the truth as he understood it, with the result that many had been converted. The missionary also said that he had visited the estate a second time and had had the joy of baptizing a number of believers, and a simple but flourishing church had been organized.

“And what about the hymn-book I sold him?” asked Palací; “did he say anything about that?” “Oh, yes,” replied his friend, “Don Patricio still has the hymn-book with your name in it; but the funny part of it is that the dear man, who by the way hasn’t the remotest idea of music, says that you taught him to sing one of the hymns, and as that is the only tune he knows, they sing all the hymns in the book to the same tune!”

On parting from his friend, who has spent the greater part of his life in spreading the Gospel message in Peru, Palací was filled with unspeakable joy as he recalled those who in the days of his youth had taught him the truths of the Divine Book. And once again he lifted his heart to God, thanking Him that He had called him to be a sower of the good seed, and that His promise had been fulfilled – “My Word shall not return unto Me void.”

 

From: Anon, True Stories Re-told. London: Evangelical Union of South America, 1965, pages 76-79

 

 

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