Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 15, 1959
NUMBER 36, PAGE 12b-13b

John Wolfe And The So-Called "Matamoros Relief"

Don Atherton, Harlingen, Texas

The following article appeared in the "Christian Chronicle" of October 28, 1958.

"Brownsville, Matamoros Brethren Hurt by Flood "Brownsville, Texas, October 20 (Special) — Due to excessive rains and flood waters along the Rio Grande River, much suffering and distress has occurred among members of the church here as well as in the Mexican city of Matamoros opposite Brownsville.

"Fifteen thousand have been reported homeless. The Spanish Church of Christ in Brownsville is doing all possible to help those in need, according to evangelist John F. Wolfe.

"The church in Brownsville is appealing for aid from all who will help to alleviate the distress. Wolfe says the situation is acute among many members of the church.

"Send aid to Church of Christ, Box 785; Brownsville, Texas. Mark checks payable to 'Matamoros Relief.' "

It is true that there have been excessive rains and flood waters along the Rio Grande. But the real damage was done far up stream. Three families of Christians were left homeless in a little settlement called "Salitre" just a few miles down stream from Presidio, Texas. The Spanish speaking churches in Harlingen and Pecos, Texas, sent relief directly to those brethren, but as for their having been "much suffering and distress . . . among members of the church" in Brownsville and Matamoros — it just is not so! The elders of the congregation in Matamoros do not know a single member of the church who has suffered in the least because of the flood. Yet, Wolfe says that "the situation is acute among many members of the church." (Emphasis mine D.A.).

Indeed, there are needy brethren in Matamoros, but that need is not a result of the flood, nor was it made more "acute" by the flood.

Brother Wolfe has also appealed for assistance to the English speaking church in Brownsville, but he did not ask for "flood relief." His story in Brownsville was that many brethren were moving to Matamoros from the interior of Mexico to help in the situation there, and the aid he sought was for them.

These individuals from the interior of Mexico came to Matamoros so that they could legally classified as members of the church there. Some of them are preachers from other towns, and one is a preacher from another state. They left their work to become temporary members of the Matamoros church so that they could out-number the faithful brethren there. Wolfe seeks to establish Pablo Villa as the local evangelist there. But over forty of the fifty-two members of the congregation want Agustin Sanchez to remain with them as evangelist. Consequently Wolfe and Villa have brought in members, some of whom have been out of duty for as much as four years, in an effort to gain a majority.

It is evident then, that those who sent aid to "Matamoros relief" sent it not to relieve the poor saints whom they thought to be in dire need because of the flood, but to fill the pockets and warm the backs of those who will only be in Matamoros long enough to guarantee that Wolfe will get the preacher in Matamoros that he wants. When the clothes and money run out all of those who have been bought with them will once again return to their former manner of life.

Wolfe sent a messenger to one of the elders of the Matamoros church requesting the names of the members of the church so that he could seek out the needy. The elder suspected that the purpose in acquiring the list of names was to visit all members and try to bribe them with clothes and money to accept Pablo Villa as their preacher... Consequently he did not divulge the information. This man had been propositioned by Villa on a previous occasion, and he knew that it was not beneath Villa or Wolfe to use clothes and money to accomplish their end. The messenger was told that if the church in Brownsville wanted to send relief to the brethren in Matamoros that they should send it to the hands of the elders, and they would oversee the distribution of the relief. To date not one dime or one stitch of clothing has been delivered into their hands.