Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 3, 1964
NUMBER 30, PAGE 6,12b

The Death Of A Mexican Preacher

Charles F. House

Death came to Jose Olivas, gospel preacher, of Caborca, Sonora, Mexico, September 14, 1964. Caborca is located 160 miles south of Phoenix, Arizona. Brother Olivas had been sick several years with diabetes but still he did what he could to advance the kingdom of Christ while he was alive. During the two years and the few months since he started the work at Caborca, if memory serves correctly, he baptized seven people. He was one of the very first converts to the church at Sonoyta, Sonora, where he was living at the time. He spoke English and Spanish fluently, was an eloquent preacher and an avid personal worker. He had learned English as a young man when he was serving a prison term in New Mexico, U.S.A.

As a result of his speaking English, various North American brethren of the nearby liberal church came down and tried to take over the little Mexican church at Sonoyta while, he was a member there (as is their custom in other places along the border). He was a brand new "babe in Christ" made many mistakes, and had more zeal than knowledge. He was badly influenced by them and was encouraged to take over the congregation from the "Antis" with the idea that he would be the "leader" of the work there at Sonoyta. A division came about in the church there so severe that it was felt even in the town of Sonoyta itself. The liberals with their "take over" methods set about to destroy the work and influence of the two faithful Gospel preachers there by working on the babes in Christ. The preachers themselves were made stronger as a result of this experience, but the cost was a terrible one!

The liberals tried to buy Fidel Cisneros, one of the preachers there with offers to send him to ACC to "learn English and learn how to preach." He did not submit to them.

In the meantime the trouble in the church at Sonoyta had gotten so out of hand that the Sonoyta brethren suggested that Bro. Olivas go to Caborca, 83 miles to the south to start the church here until his death. He had repented of his part in the division at Sonoyta and was earnestly trying to do the right thing at this time. My judgment in the matter of the division at Sonoyta church with Jose Olivas as the ring leader is, that he, as a babe in Christ, was influenced by liberal North American brethren, and should not be blamed entirely. Despite this, the Sonoyta brethren did not forsake him nor leave him to die spiritually; but Bro. Cisneros made many trips to Caborca to help him in his work. Brethren Gomez and Villegas, as well as I, made trips there to help him spiritually. Other faithful North American brethren supported him, not only with their prayers, their letters and their money, but with personal visits to see him in addition to helping him, and teaching it him the way of the Lord more perfectly.

From the very beginning of Jose Olivas' work at Caborca, a little over two years ago until it ended September 14, 1834 with his death, he had to battle constantly to get enough support from our conservative brethren, to maintain himself, his wife and only little daughter, with the barest necessities for their food, and to pay for medical expense of his illness. When his expenses and bills become to great, and with nearby liberal brethren always ready to lend a hand, he submitted once again to accepting financial support from them. He was too ill and weak to work at hard labor in the agriculture fields. When various ones of us here along the U. S. - Mexico border heard that he was accepting support from liberals, we reminded him that such gifts always had "strings" either stated or implied, and he repented and asked forgiveness and prayers for what he had done. Even in desperate need, he did not want to compromise the truth. The liberal brethren did pay for the most of his funeral expenses. Another faithful North American brother paid the balance of the funeral expense. A brother from one of the congregations in Tucson, Arizona, came down and paid up all of Brother Olivas' back bills that he had incurred at the local stores.

Brethren, it is absolutely impossible to describe the poverty, the lack of secular work, and the ever searching for just enough to eat, among our brethren south of the border. Fidel Cisneros, faithful Gospel preacher, P. O. Box 291, Lukeville, Arizona, U. S. A., who preaches for the Sonoyta congregation has now taken Bro. Olivas' widow and little girl into his own family to care for them. He will be spending four days per week at Caborca and three days per week at Sonoyta in the work of the church, until such time as another Mexican preacher can he found to take Olivas' place. This has necessitated Cisneros having to rent a larger house, plus buying additional food. He needs additional support. Of the six Gospel preachers working in Meixco along this far western U. S.-Mexico border, not one of us has any extended commitments for support toward our work by anyone. We all work and walk by faith. We need the prayers of our faithful brethren in the USA everywhere to keep from being taken over and being run out of Mexico, not by the Catholic church and her workers, but by our own liberal brethren! I can not believe that our conservative brethren in the USA want the conservative movement killed in Mexico or anywhere else, especially after they have become informed of circumstances there.

When I returned to San Luis, Arizona, from my nine weeks work in National City, California, I found that Bro. Camilo Villegas, (faithful preacher at San Luis, Mexico) had already moved his family away from San Luis down into the interior where living costs are not so high. He will be earning his living selling fruits and vegetables from house to house from a horse and wagon which some friends of his folks let him have. Camilo had to leave this area because he could not find sufficient support for himself, his wife and five children. In the meantime, the nearby liberal American church at Yuma took advantage of my absence from the area, hired a new Mexican preacher, and when I returned he had already "moved in and set up shop." Isn't it sad that for lack of just a few dollars, the cause of Christ has to temporarily suffer a setback to liberalism, here along this far western U. S.-Mexico border? Word recently received from Tecate brethren states that the California liberals have "moved in" there, and are making overtures toward the local preacher to see if he will "cooperate." If he won't we can look for a division there like we saw at Sonoyta. (We started the Tecate work back in 1958).

How much longer must we cry out for help, brethren, before we can make ourselves heard by sufficient brethren who love the truth and who are willing to sacrifice for it I to see that the whole truth is preached in Mexico? Why do I try month after month, year after year to find one congregation who will support my work fully as I preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Mexican people? If I could find one church who would support my work fully, then the smaller amounts presently being sent from several sources could be released and diverted to several preaching native brethren. God forbid that other preachers and the cause of Christ should die spiritually in Mexico for want of a few dollars sent regularly and for as long as the need arises! I would appreciate very much hearing from churches who are planning full time support of evangelists. May God open your eyes to one of the greatest opportunities we have witnessed in our generation . . . Mexico. Elders, preachers, please write.

— P. O. Box 641-G San Luis, Arizona