It can get very cold in Uruguay, South America, during the winter. Because I love to lead souls to Christ, in 1960 I spent several months preaching in Allende, a little village of run-down shacks in the northern rural area. There was no heating and the wind howled through myriads of cracks in the tiny and flimsy hut someone was letting me use for free. It was so bitter cold that, like the old pioneers, I only dared to take a bath once a week (“whether I needed it or not” as the old villagers used to say). My bath was in the most secluded place I could find in the little river. As the wind howled, I would remove my clothes, plunge into the frigid waters and soap myself at a furious rate of speed. My soaped body would attract schools of hungry minnows that kept tenaciously pulling at the hairs of my well-forested legs. They probably thought my leg hairs were tiny edible worms. Of course, their constant nibbling at my leg hairs kept me continuously jumping, as I wondered if they were only minnows or man-eating piranhas. I would usually complete my bath in record speed, towel myself quickly and don my warm winter clothes as fast as I could.
Every home in that small village was infested with large numbers of hungry fleas. My constant missionary visitation would cause me to return every evening with a large collection of the unwanted but faithful creatures. At bedtime I used insecticide to keep them at bay so I could sleep.
Then came the day when I ran out of money. Totally. I was flat broke. I ran out of food. And I ran out of insecticide. But I did not run out of God! His personal instructions were for me to live by faith. I mean really live by faith. God made it meticulously clear to me that I could not borrow money nor let anyone known my needs, not even as much as a hint.
I kept preaching Christ as Lord and Savior from house to house. A good number got saved and the new believers were encouraged in the Lord. They kept inviting me over for a meal to ask me all kinds of questions about God. Consequently, I did not really go hungry. But as I was out of insecticide, the uninvited fleas I unwittingly continued to bring home kept multiplying so much, I could hardly sleep at night. I was too busy scratching myself.
The primitive mail system in that area worked as follows: Once a week a decrepit passenger bus would come hauling people, merchandise and mail. One had to give the letters to the bus-driver/mailman. He would take it to a larger city that had regular mail-service, then next week he would charge you for whatever postage your mail took.
I had mailed some letters the previous week, so I knew I was going to be charged for it, but I did not know how much.
Since I had no money, not even a cent, I brought this problem to the Lord in prayer. I told Him:
“Father, the mail bus will come and I have no money to pay what I owe.”
Immediately there flashed in my memory God’s Word:
“Owe no man any thing, but to love.” (Romans 13:8)
Grieved in spirit, I prayed again:
“Father, please be merciful and enable me to pay this debt I have.”
I instantly remembered that I had some unused postage stamps left, so I decided to pay my debt in postage stamps.
The local village grocer was at the door of his tiny mini-grocery when I passed by. He had observed that I had abruptly stopped buying my daily supply of staples, so he no doubt suspected I was broke. He stopped me, saying in Spanish:
“Federico,” (Fred in Spanish) “If you don’t have money at this time, don’t worry about it. I give you all the credit you need. Come in and take a good supply of food with you. You can pay me whenever you find it convenient.”
Not being free to go into debt nor to acknowledge that I had no money, yet desiring to express my appreciation for his kind offer, I flashed a big, grateful smile at him and sincerely said:
“Well, I certainly appreciate your kind offer. I thank you from the heart!”
But I did not take advantage of his kindness. I bought nothing, for the Lord’s Word was very clear: “Owe no man any thing, but to love.”
A few days later, I heard the loud horn and whining motor of the old bus.
Rushing to meet the mail-bus and trying to appear nonchalant about it, I spoke to the driver. Here is the record of our conversation:
Me: “How much postage do I owe you from the mail I sent out last week?”
He: “Seven cents.”
Me: “May I pay you with unused postage stamps? Here. Seven cents worth.”
He: “Uh, no. I don’t want to bother with stamps. Pay me next week.”
With that, he turned around, climbed into the driver’s seat and was about to drive off when, suddenly, he remembered something and said:
He: “Oh, yes, someone sent you a money order. Here it is, $2.50”
Me: (thrilled, but trying to be calm) “In that case, I will pay you cash!”
A dear brother in Christ, had been instructed by God to send me $2.50 without knowing I was in need.
The driver paid me the $2.50 so I was able to pay him the seven cents in cash. I returned to the hut brimming with joy and thanksgiving to the Lord. Once again, in answer to prayer, God had arranged for another LMS (last minute supply). I praised Him, worshipped Him and told Him again how much I loved Him.
To you, seven cents may not mean much. To me, it was all important, because God had clearly made His Word and Will known to me:
“Owe no man any thing, but to love.”
God’s Word and His honor were at stake. I was being tested, to see if I would trust Him, or tail-spin down the drain in despair.
Thus I have lived, supplied and blessed by God, without making my needs known to anyone, except God alone. Seldom have I actually been hungry, mostly when I have been deliberately fasting and praying.
Right away I went to the tiny grocery store, bought a little food and some insecticide, for which I happily paid in cash.
A lot of fleas died that evening and I slept wonderfully well.
If this has helped you to see things from God’s point of view, then I invite you to pray with me as follows:Heavenly Father, if I have never considered your command:
Heavenly Father, if I have never considered your command: “Owe no man any thing, but to love,” I definitely acknowledge it now. Keep me debt-free. May I owe no one anything but love. Your Word makes me realize that even if I am financially debt-free, I am nevertheless a great debtor, I owe everybody to love them. May Christ love others through me and with me. May Your Son Jesus do the loving through me and with me. May Christ Himself be love through me. May Christ be all He is through me. May He be Divine love, eternal love, infinite love, fully expressed in me and through me. May Christ in me love You. And love people too. Make me perceive to which of your children You want me to give the seven cents they need. Or more. May I love You and others so well that You will lead me to tell those who never heard all about Christ, be they across the street or across the ocean. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
From Dialogues With God – Chapter 11
Updates from Cuba
Starting in the 1990’s Fred was significantly involved with Cuba. The Lord has continued to move strongly in Cuba through many brothers and sisters in Christ including some key workers who Fred helped to disciple. Since 2009, a project to evangelize the whole country has reached many Cubans with many new believers added to the house of God. The work is ongoing to evangelize the entire island country.