The Arkansas Tribe

  • June 30, 2017

This story, originally printed in a 1952 issue of “Translation,” a Wycliffe publication, depicts how one man receiving the Bible in his own language significantly impacted a local church.

Arcardio Velazco
Arcardio Velazco

It all began down in Mexico, in the mountains where the Zapoteco Indians live. A young boy came to the dispensary directed by the Wycliffe nurses, Iva Chizec and Dorothy Wright. He was sick, took the medicine, and got well like many others.

However this lad’s father came to thank the girls. He listened to the gospel story as the Bible translators, Neil and Jane Nellis, explained it to him in his own language. His name was Arcardio Velazco, a fierce fighter and excessive drinker. “God forgives murderers? And there is no fee to pay for eternal life? Our witchdoctors only tell us of demons and evil spirits. Our whole town fears them.” But Arcadio accepted Christ and became a leader in the church.

Last summer agricultural laborers for crops in the U.S. were sought in Mexico. Arcardio came along with others to Arkansas. He found himself to be the only evangelical among the workers and immediately was ridiculed for his faith and stand against liquor.

Arcardio Velazco
Arcardio Velazco

Where could he find sympathetic Christians, at least one day a week? He dressed in his clean blue work clothes, and went looking for a church. He entered it. The people drove him away from it. More bewildered still he tried another church, and remained in the vestibule with his head bowed reverently during the entire service. In his hand he held clutched a paper bag which protected a cherished Spanish Bible.

At the close of the service, the pastor approached him asking in English, “What do you want?” He replied equally unintelligibly in Spanish, “Soy un hermano evangelico.”

“Come let’s look for an interpreter. I know a Spanish speaking family in town,” suggested the pastor.

Assisted by the friends, Arcardio made himself clear, “All I want is a temple where I can worship God.”

From then on, this humble Indian attended the services carrying his brown paper sack. His silent testimony of love for God and God’s Word spread conviction and challenge to the members of the church. There had been dissension and talk of the church splitting into two groups. The people sensed their lack of love for God and one another. They became convicted. A climax followed when 40 of them in a service rose one by one confessing their sins, while some accepted Christ, for the first time.

The pastor stated, “The sight of that faithful Indian brother, and his effect on this congregation here in Arkansas has been the greatest blessing of my life.”

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