Banditos and Angels
[Author’s note: A true incident; however, all names have been changed.]
Riding on horseback through the thick, mosquito infested South American jungle, veteran missionary, Duncan Haliburton, and his wife, Erica, traveled toward the next village on their itinerary. This would be their initial visit to the village. It would be an extended one, and they hoped following visits would become a regular occurrence. With them traveled Benitez, their new guide. They knew nothing about him, other than that he claimed to be a native of the village.
“I shall take you there for free,” he offered, “It is time for me to visit my family.”
In his late twenties, of median built, handsome and well spoken, Benitez exuded a confidence that engendered trust in the Haliburtons. He took immediate charge of making complete preparations for the trip. Since the village was inaccessible to motorized vehicles, he assisted them in the purchase of three excellent riding horses and six sturdy packhorses.
“The packhorses must be very strong. They must not stumble, because you have many supplies and much expensive equipment,” he told them.
He was right about the expensive equipment. Among other things, the horses hauled a petrol operated generator, several twelve volt auto batteries, numerous five gallon cans of petrol, boxes of canned and packages foods, two battery operated water evaporators to provide the missionaries with a pure supply of drinking water, a generator operated audio-visual system, two generator operated film projectors for screening films on a closed-circuit television unit, Bibles, literature, children’s books, and numerous gifts for the village elders and their families.
The Banditos and the Jungle Angels
The trip began and, as he rode with them, the Halburtons’ trust seemed vindicated. It was evident Benitez was an able guide. After riding along the jungle path for a several hours they arrived at a clearing, through which flowed a stream.
“The village is two hours more,” Benitez informed the missionaries, “We must stop here and water the horses. They need a rest.”
The trio dismounted. “Water your horses, first,” Benitez instructed, “I must go further among the trees.”
The missionaries understood; however, Duncan wondered aloud why Benitez took his own horse with him as he disappeared among the trees. He noticed Erica also seemed puzzled.
“Doesn’t that seem strange, Duncan; why did he take his horse?”
Duncan was about to respond, when several men, brandishing machetes, stepped into the clearing. Among them was Benitez, mounted on his horse.
“These are my banditos. We are taking all that you have,” he menacingly said to the dumb-founded missionaries.
The Haliburtons could only stare as Benitez motioned for four of his banditos to take all of their horses. Roughly shoving the missionaries aside, they obeyed.
“I am sorry that we now must kill you. If you stay alive, you will tell others what we have done,” Benitez stated, bluntly.
Then a look of absolute astonishment appeared on his face and those of his banditos. Gaping slack jawed, the outlaws seemed utterly terrified, but the missionaries could see no reason for their terror. Their puzzlement increased when Benitez jumped from his mount and fled through the trees with his companions, leaving all the horses and goods with the Haliburtons. After regaining their composure, the missionaries remounted and resumed their journey, leading their packhorses, but leaving the abandoned mounts.
Some two weeks later, Benitez, appearing chastened and still frightened, came to their hut.
“Thank you for not telling the village elders that I tried to steal from you and kill you,” he haltingly told them, “If they knew, they would behead me. I am very sorry, yet I wish to know one thing.”
“What is that,” Duncan asked.
“I wish to know, who all those people were, who came to stand with you.”
“No one came to stand with us, Benitez; we were alone.”
“No! No! You were alone when we first came; but then many other people came. They held large machetes in their hands! They were all dressed in white clothes that shined, and they stood with you; that is why we ran away!”
“God must have sent His angels to protect us, Benitez. He made you see them so you would not kill us, but we saw no one,” Erica answered, “Now you must ask God to forgive you for all the wrong things you have done. You must confess your sins to Him. You must put your trust in His Son, Jesus Christ, and serve Him.”
“Yes, yes, that is what I must do!”
Benitez did receive Jesus Christ as his savior. He faithfully assisted the Haliburtons in their ministry, and became a fervent witness for Jesus Christ and a Christian leader in his village.
“9 So you will be saved, if you honestly say, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe with all your heart that God raised him from death. 10 God will accept you and save you, if you truly believe this and tell it to others.” Romans 10:9-10
© Josprel (Joseph Perrello)