Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

December 11, 2011

Bibles, Priest, and Rats

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

While in language school in Costa Rica, a request came from the priest of a Catholic church in Sequirres. He requested that we make available New Testaments to the community. As the leader of the student body, I arranged for several students to go with me. The Good News for Modern Man had been translated into Spanish and the Archdiocese of Central America had endorsed it. There were a few priests that desired for their people to have the Scriptures in their homes. The priest in Sequirres was one of those.

The priest had indicated he would like for us to be outside the church following Mass so that the parishioners could obtain one. We offered to provide them free, but he insisted that we sell them because the people would treasure them if they had purchased them.

The four of us, from different denominations, took the train to Sequirres. We arrived late afternoon on a Saturday. We went to a four-room boarding house where we rented two rooms. It was really run down and had only one bath on the hall for all four rooms. But we knew we could handle it for one night. However, we decided that we would not eat there, but go to the only public eating establishment in town. After putting our few things in the room, we went to eat. We were very uncomfortable by the way we were received and treated, and we knew that we were not welcomed in this small town.

After we ate, we walked over to the Catholic church to see the priest. We went to his home beside the church. The priest we met indicated that he was not the regular priest and had come only for the services on Sunday. The priest who had invited us had been taken ill and had gone to the hospital in San Jose. We explained that we had come by invitation to distribute the Bibles. He was very firm in saying he would not permit it. He spoke harshly to us and told us to leave town. He was an elderly priest who did not accept that we all had the privilege to be together in the family of God. It was obvious that he had no patience for evangelicals, as we were called in Costa Rica.

We left his home with discouragement. We knew that we could not distribute the New Testaments, but also that we would have to remain in town until the next morning when we could catch a train back to San Jose. It seemed that the priest spread the word quickly through town about us faster than we could walk back to the boarding house. We felt the eyes of everyone were upon us. When we went back to the boarding house, we were told we could not stay there. Our money was refunded and we were told to leave immediately.

As we walked down the street a man spoke to us and shared that he was an evangelical. He indicated that he was part of a small church in town. We walked with him to his small home. He apologized that he could not accommodate us for the night, and that the other few members could not. However, he told us that we could sleep in the building they used for church. We walked with him to their meeting place. It was a very small, abandoned railroad shack for storing tools and equipment. The church had made five or six benches and a table. They used these for their worship services. There was no light or water in the shack. This kind gentleman brought us some candles and matches. No bedding was needed because of the heat. We would simply lie on the benches the best we could. It was not wise to venture out, and so we spent a very long evening waiting to be tired enough to attempt to sleep.

As last we attempted to go to sleep. A few minutes after we all got quiet, we began to hear noises. We realized that we were not alone in the shack. A candle was quickly lighted, and we saw very large rats running across the floor. Some of them would weigh three or four pounds. This size rat was not unusual in Costa Rica. We decided to leave a candle burning. However, we were not comfortable with just a candle burning. We then determined to keep several candles burning and to take turns sitting up to assure our safety. It was a very long night!

The next morning found us without water or food. Suddenly there was a knock at the door and it was several members of the congregation bringing some food and water. These were believers with courage and commitment. We would have enjoyed sharing their worship service with them, but our train was to arrive prior to their service time. We were soon on our way back to San Jose, but it would be an experience not to be forgotten.

God’s provision is always over us. He will provide. We must never overlook His care that might come in interesting ways!

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:19) “But you are a shield around me, O Lord . . . .”  (Psalm 3:3)

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