2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
In May of 2000, our mission team to Nicaragua had the pleasure of having lunch with Dr. Gustavo Parajón. During our lunch Dr. Parajón shared a story. It was a story that I shall do my best to retell here.
Along the northern area of the Nicaraguan Pacific coast lies the community of Corinto. Corinto is located on a natural harbor where ships were at anchor and the economy surrounded the business of trade and service.
Decades ago a woman boarded a train at Corinto and traveled to Managua to visit friends. While in the capital city she came upon a man selling Bibles on a street corner (a). Approaching the man she picked one of the Bibles up and was immediately impressed by the quality of the paper within.
When she returned to Corinto she showed the Bible to the others who lived in her home; commenting on the quality of the paper. She then ripped the first page out of the book and rolled a cigarette with the sheet. A practice that she continued through the entire Old Testament and well into the New Testament.
The woman was able to read only a few words and when she came to John 4, she saw ‘Jesús y la Mujer Samaritana’ (Jesus and the Samaritan Woman). Recognizing only the word mujer (woman), she became curious and she sent someone to fetch a student who lived next door. Having heard the boy read the story of the Woman at the Well, she sent a message to her friends in Managua; asking to be informed when the man returned to sell Bibles on the street corner.
When she heard that the man had returned she again traveled to Managua. Approaching him, she opened her then thin Bible and said, “Tell me what this means”.
The man spent time with her, explaining the Bible story in detail. When he finished his explanation of the Bible verses she told him that she too was the woman at the well. She had had four husbands and that she was not married to the man that she now lived with. After purchasing another Bible she returned home.
Her heart was touched by what had been shared with her and changes in her life came rapidly. She gathered the women who lived in her home and told them they would need to move out. Her home had been a place of prostitution; frequented by the sailors from the harbor. She then set out to understand the meaning of the full Gospels found in the Bible. It wasn’t long until she, herself, began preaching the Word of God and became what Dr. Parajon called, “The greatest Baptist evangelist in Nicaraguan’s history”.
(a) At the time of this story, in the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic society of Nicaragua, it was difficult for Protestant missionaries to find acceptance in the community. Selling Bibles on the street corners offered an opportunity to share the Gospel.