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When an Andean Woman Received Christ
By Walter M. Montaño
hesitation we can say that after four hundred years, the Roman Church has given
little to Latin America – A land where the majority of the people have never
heart the Gospel and know very little about God. Their conception of Him is
that of an old man with a long white beard who is very tired, physically weak,
and is afar off and aloof. He is a terrible personage given to meting out
punishment but never love. For these reasons they fear God as a monster and a
tyrant from whom they run away rather than draw closer.
Roman Church has left a land where many of the people know that Christ died
nineteen hundred years ago, but they consider Him at present nothing more than
a corpse. They worship, in their way, a dead Christ, but have no conception or
realization of the wonders and glory of the risen Christ, our eternally living
and powerful Lord.
Roman Church has left a land where the people talk so glibly about religion,
even using the names of deity, not in swearing, but simply as expletives
instead of "Oh” or ”My”! Yet they know so very little of the real Gospel.
Wicked people, thieves, drunkards, and so on, think that the only thing needful
for either worship or expiation for sin, is to wear rosaries, bow before
images, cross themselves, or wear pins with images of the saints attached.
Roman Church has left a land where millions of Indians live under most
lamentable conditions. Their religion is a mixture of paganism and Catholicism.
This means that while they worship the sun, moon, and other objects of nature,
they also kneel before wooden crosses made by themselves. These actually
signify to them their Heavenly Father...
vividly we remember an experience that we had while in Peru. From the city of
Lima with its combination of modern and new sections and its old Spanish
architecture, from sea level to an altitude of sixteen thousand feet, it would
take us from six to seven hours by train or auto to reach the top of the Andes.
Here the mountains are covered with snow, the train creeps or the auto runs
with difficulty, and many people die because of the rarity of the atmosphere.
on the other side of the pass on the Andean road, Indian communities have been
established for years and years. One day in the interest of bringing some of
these Indians to the light of the Gospel, we were visiting the Indian huts.
Walking along the road of the Andes, where dozens of crosses are planted, we
noticed an Indian woman, dressed in many vivid colors, kneeling down with an
expression of deepest dissatisfaction on her face, with arms outstretched,
looking at the wooden cross, moving her lips and repeating, no doubt, prayers
that were unheard by us. I suggested that my wife and I wait to speak to that
woman when she finished her prayers.
were you doing there?” I questioned. "Don’t you know?” she said in a most
humble way. ”I was praying to my god.”
is your god?”
to the wooden cross, she said: "There is my god.” When I attempted to make her
understand what the cross meant, we found she was in complete ignorance of the
fact that two thousand years ago Christ came to this world that sinners might
said, "The priest comes once a year to our country chapel. He celebrates the
holy Mass in Latin, a language we do not understand. After the Mass, we follow
a procession to the top of the hill, where we plant a cross, and after blessing
the cross with holy water and hearing another short ceremony in Latin, we come
back. We go down to our village where we spent a week or ten days in
drunkenness and feasting until our men spend their last cent, so that we have
to sleep in the door of the church, and then early we go back to our places.
All we know is that wherever we find crosses we must kneel down and present our
was then that I repeated the Scriptures to her about Christ’s perfect sacrifice
finished at Calvary, and when I came to the point of inviting her to open her
heart to the Savior, she only said: "That’s fine. That’s great. But don’t you
realize that I am only an ignorant woman, a poor human being who cannot pay for
these things? This must belong to you who belong to the upper classes.”
no,” I said. "This is for you as much as for us.” Little by little her heart
was melted as we explained how God loved the whole world. A few more minutes
and then the three of us – the Indian woman, my wife and I – were kneeling down
on the dusty road of the high Andes, my wife and I committing her to God’s love
and that Indian woman opened her heart to the King of Kings. Our hearts were
greatly moved by one of the greatest spiritual experiences of our lives.
we stood up, the sad expression had disappeared from her face, and instead a
joyful and expressive look indicated that she had found happiness in Christ.
Just before she departed from us, she also wanted to show, in her own way, her
gratitude to God for giving her that happiness. Holding a hairpin in her hand,
the symbol among her people of the deepest friendship and loyalty, she said:
"God, I thank You for finding me here. I want my hands tied to yours so I will
never be lost again.”
went her way, having found that Christ was her Savior. While she was
disappearing in the distance, our minds were turning to those other
thirty-three million Indians in the Americas who were still lost, and it was
there also that we were asking God to use us more efficiently to bring the
Light to these noble descendants of the Incas.”
Reference: Montaño, W. M. Behind the Purple Curtain. Chapter
XII – The rebellion of the Continent. Cowman
Publications, Inc., Los Angeles, pp. 168-171. 1950.
The whole emphasis of the Roman Church is on the Crucifix, the
dead Christ. But not all the people can buy the crucifix, so the Church tells
them, especially in the Indian communities, to erect wooden crosses everywhere…
One of our North American
teachers, after some time of living in the interior of a South American
country, tells of her experiences:
"We are now in a little South American town, situated on the
seacoast. Every year hundreds of people come to this little village to escape
the intense heat of the inland towns. There, on a little elevation overlooking
the sea, is a cross. It is barren and ugly; it could hardy be more crudely
constructed. Yet, it is sacred.
As I sat watching it one day, I wondered how many hundreds of
souls had passed by the cross in the years that it had been standing there. As
I gazed, a small boy, ready to take a plunge into the ocean, paused before the
cross, stooped and reverently kissed it. I wondered at the devotion of a lad
who would think to pay homage to the cross when there were scores of youngsters
on every side shouting and plunging beneath the cool waves. I asked a native
friend who stood by, why the child had kissed the cross.
She replied, "The holy cross will protect him from drowning.”
"Do you really believe that?” I replied.
"Oh, yes, the cross has performed miracles,” she answered
I thought of the many fishermen who had gone out in their frail
fishing craft never to return. And as I noticed the grime on the cross where
the boy and many others had kissed it, I marveled at such futile faith.
By the roadside one day I noticed a little square building. As I
approached it I found a wayside shrine with a cross in the center. The cross
was crudely decorated with a withered wreath of flowers and some paper chains,
such as we used to make in kindergarten. The shrine presented a picture not
unlike a scarecrow, for wound around the two arms of the cross was a white
cloth. I noticed that this cross was covered with grime also, no doubt the
marks of devoted hands and lips. On the ground around the base of the cross was
a veritable sea of wax. I wondered how many hundreds of candles had been burned
there. And the thought of the muttered prayers from heavy, sin-cursed hearts
made my own heart heavy. They were not prayers that could bring rest to a
burdened heart, for this was a Christless cross.
One day in the interest of cleanliness, I wished to remove a dirty
cord from around the neck of a little boy who attended our school. Shocked and
startled, childish eyes looked up at me and a little hand pulled from beneath
the homemade shirt a little aluminum cross.
"My mama says that it will protect me,” he said, "I must not take
Crosses, crosses, Christless crosses, all of them.
One day a friend of mine was pinning underneath the lapel of her
husband’s coat a little silken square upon which was embroidered a cross. I
asked her why she was doing that.
"The Holy Cross will protect my husband and keep him true to me,”
"Poor people,” I thought, "walking in darkness and the shadow of
death, ‘in the Land of the Christless Cross’ ” Not once had I heard an
expression of what the power of the resurrected Christ could do…”
Barren unlovely, Christless crosses, yet there are many in the
"Land or the Christless Cross.” An abundance of crosses, yet, empty of all that
we hold sacred. For over four hundred years, weary, hungry, sin-cursed hearts
have bowed down to the holy (?) cross of Rome. Shall we take the Living Christ
to those who walk in "darkness and the shadow of death”?
"The Land of the Christless Cross,” writes our missionary teacher
as she relates her experiences, "are words that had burned themselves into my
soul long before I had ever set foot on South American soil. Never did I
realize, however, the stark pathos and the tragedy of it until I lived and
walked among the crosses. Surely we can never cease to thank God for the
Christian heritage we have in a land which was not sought because of the
immense riches that it contained, but rather as a haven in which to worship
A similar testimony is given by Miss Ruth Harmon who… had been
visiting Mexico City, and was greatly impressed by the contrast between a Roman
Catholic Church and the services in a large evangelical church. She visited the Church of Guadalupe, typical
of many such churches, large, ornate, lined with dozens of booths selling
religious relics and candles. Entering the church one is almost overcome by the
strong odor of incense. After one becomes accustomed to the dim light of the interior
the attention is attracted to Indian men and women, many of whom carry children
in their arms. Along the sides there are confessional booths where sit
bored-looking priest. As the people pass the glass cases containing various
religious relics they rub their hands over the case and then over the baby’s
face. One large case held a replica of the Virgin Mary. A poor Indian woman
with an old, withered face kept tapping on the case as if to make the Virgin
look at her rosary and at the piece of money she was giving to her. "The
superstition of it all haunted me through the night,” says our visitor.
"The following Sunday, I visited the Mexican Presbyterian Church
there. Sunday School was going on when I arrived. I saw twelve to fourteen
Bible classes all going on at once. The children were evidently in another
section of the building. All had open Bibles and were giving undivided
attention to the teacher. Sunday School ran right into church. There was a
large choir of well-trained voices… a well-educated couple presented their
child beside an evidently poor Indian couple. The latter mother was wearing her
Indian shawl; her hair hung in long braids. Their solemn little boy was just as
precious in the sight of God and man as the beautifully dressed little girl of
the other couple. The church was altogether under national leadership. I was
convinced, all over again, that missionary work is the most worthwhile thing in
Reference: Excerpts from Idem,
pp. 164 – 168.