“Hang the heretics!” the angry mob shouted, shoving my neighbor and me toward a makeshift gallows.
Rough hands slipped a noose over my head and shouted, “Now will you repent?”
“No!” I said, and the noose drew tighter around my neck.
Months earlier I noticed a man reading a Bible on a bus. He saw my interest and urged me to buy a Bible and discover God’s truths for myself. Then he invited me to visit the Adventist church. I bought a Bible and began reading, eager to share what I was learning with others.
On Sabbath my wife and I walked two hours to the next village to visit the Adventist church. Church members gave me eight Bibles to share, and a layman offered to come to the village and study with us.
I gave out the Bibles and invited my neighbors to study with me. Soon my house was full of people who wanted to know God’s Word! But when the local village leaders learned of the Bible study, they accused us of making trouble and threatened us. The next day an angry mob came to arrest my neighbor and me.
We were told to renounce our faith. We refused, and the men placed the ropes around our necks. As I prayed for my family and the new believers, someone cut the ropes. They let my friend go, but they beat me and threatened me. Still I refused to deny Christ.
Eventually they let me go, but as I hurried toward home I noticed some villagers following me with machetes. I ducked behind some tall bushes and ran home, where the Adventist layman waited with my wife.
“Come and stay in our town for a while, he urged. We gathered some clothes and our animals, and we escaped to the neighboring village, where we stayed until the church could work out a solution with our village leaders. At night we sneaked back home to harvest our crops so we would have food. Soon my wife and I were baptized.
When it was safe, we returned home, free to worship and share our faith with friends and family. The village leaders gave us land, and we built a church. Today more than 300 Adventists and many visitors worship with us!
We praise God for turning persecution into praise. Part of a recent Thirteenth Sabbath Offering helped to build churches in my region of central Mexico. Thank you!
Augustin Cruz is a farmer and a lay worker in Oaxaca State, Mexico.