by Wilfrido Flores
Prior to the 1970s when the Gospel had not reached the town of San Pedro Sochiapam, south-east of Mexico City, the town was full of drunks and void of any noticeable economic develop-ment. People used to make their own moonshine with sugar cane. Whenever people did any community work, they were rewarded with moonshine; men and women used to get drunk as well as children about 10 years old who were grown up enough to participate in community work.
Under these conditions, by the time children were in their teens, they were already drunkards. Walking through town it was common to see drunk men sleeping by the roadside. Occasionally drunks would die of hypothermia when they got rained on as they slept in the streets.
When people heard the Word of God, the first few believers stopped drinking and had more strength to work in their fields. They were able to take better care of their families. As they continued to study the Word and their faith grew, they were able to fend off the pressure to drink and were an example to others, showing how to live godly lives. Their example attracted many people to believe in God and, as the body of believers grew, the town also changed.
When they had to participate in community work, believers worked harder because they were sober and they rejected the moonshine offered to them. Instead of drinking alcohol, believers asked for soda or a piece of bread. Little by little, the drinking culture changed to the point where alcohol is no longer offered after community work.
The power of the gospel is such that not only can it change people’s hearts and minds, it can change entire communities as happened in Sochiapam.
Some elderly people, who never knew how to read in any language, have been learning how to read on their own because they wanted access to God’s Word. They listen to the audio recording of the Chinantec New Testament and follow the printed text and learn how to read that way. Some of these elderly folk have been teaching their grand-children how to read Chinantec as well using the Chinantec Scriptures. This is another testimony of what the Word of God can do in people’s lives: it can give them new abilities when they have the desire to know God.