Is the Gospel Needed in Mexico?
Our Home Field Newspaper, 1901
Let us look beyond our own land into that lovely neighboring country where unfettered Romanism has borne its bitter fruit for so many years. You wonder why we need to preach to Mexicans, when they already “know about God.” Walk by the beautiful cathedral of Guadalajara and hear the sweet strains of the mass of San Gregorio, which, for the payment of one hundred dollars, will pass the soul of the departed straight to the celestial regions; follow the crowds to the cemetery of Belen on All Souls’ Day, and watch that second-class priest mumbling his twenty-five or 12 cent prayers over the grave of some poor soul; watch the mass of people kneeling in that little pueblo where the virgin Zapopan, a rude wooden image about a foot and a half high has been carried with as truly heathenish demonstration of dancing and drunkenness as one would see before some Buddhist temple.
Pass by the houses of “spiritual retirement,” and hear the shrieks of the devotees as they lash themselves with the iron diciplinas, or press the spikes of their cilicias farther into the quivering flesh, while the fumes of an extremely material sulphur make the place like a true type of the lower regions. Go to that baby’s funeral, and see the crowd dancing and drinking while the heartbroken mother tries to stifle her sobs and join in the mirth, until the little form is carried away, when she falls into a frenzy of shrieking. Hear the rockets whizzing in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; see the grand dinners and the paseo on Good Friday; and the clang of the bells and burning of hundreds of Judases when the "gory comes in” on Holy Saturday; hear the people gayly asking one another on Corpus Christi: “What is your Corpus? Mine is a big watermelon!" or on All Saints’ Day see the children with their bonbon boxes in the form of coffins, with a candy doll in its white shroud within, while others have their arms full of hideous toys, grinning skulls, skeletons in every conceivable form - everything that will make a ghastly mockery of death. See the thronged market on Sunday morning; hear the wild screaming as the consite for the afternoon bull fight passes by our chapel windows – and, in the face of it all, can any one say that the gospel is not needed? “Missionary Letter in the Little Worker.” [This article is on page 1.]
Monthly Missionary Topic – Mexico
Mexico - Situation, southwest of the United States. Size one-fifth as large as the United States. Shape that of a cornucopia with mouth opening northward.
Early History - full of obscurity.
12th Century History - In 1196 the Aztecs entered Mexico and ruled for 325 years. They built large and beautiful cities but were idolators [sic]. Their gods were fierce and delighted In blood.
16th Century history - In 1519, Cortez went to Mexico In search of gold. The emperor of the Aztecs was put to death by torture, and the country became a Spanish province. The Inquisition was established and the people forced to become Roman Catholics.
Later History - After many revolutions, in 1923 the independence of Mexico was acknowledged and soon after, it became a Republic with a Constitution modelled on that of the United States.
The Republic of Mexico consists of 27 States, 2 Territories and a Federal District.
The population consists of Whites, Mixed races and Indians.
Of the 11,000,000 in Mexico, 8,000,000 have never seen a Bible.
The priests are almost universally addicted to drunkenness, gambling, and other sins. The Sabbath is the special time for bull fights and the selling of lottery tickets.
The first circulation of Bibles was during the Mexican war when our army chaplains distributed Bibles among the destitute people; the first gospel sermon ever preached In Mexico was by a Baptist minister, in 1862; and the first Baptist Church was organized in 1864.
Southern Baptists begun work in Mexico In 1880. The Foreign Board now has in its employ but 12 missionaries and 20 native assistants.
The wildest fanaticism prevents missionaries from obtaining houses in which to worship.
“We want” is the theme of all letters from our missionaries. They want more missionaries, and permanent houses erected in which services may be held.
“Here Is our neighbor, pass not by,
Like Priest and Levite long ago: -
Have pity! Help! Ring out the cry,
Prayer, means and men for Mexico.”
[From M. M. Welch, the Editor, Our Home Field magazine, February, 1901, pp. 1 & 2; via Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives digital documents. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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