I have know Julio Cruz since 1973 when I started my first work just out of Harding. I became the youth minister at the Geyer Springs church of Christ in Little Rock. It was at that congregation where I met Bob Bryson, who was working as the Missions Minister to the country of Panama.
In 1977, I left Geyer Springs, but not before I a trip for the teen group to go to Panama in July of that year. I had not planned to do mission work, but I was interested in seeing Panama where my friend Bob had been going since 1958. This was my first contact with doing foreign evangelism.
On July 1st, 1977, I flew to Panama with Bob and a group of teens and adults to work in Bocus Del Toro. Julio Cruz was assigned as my translator, so for the next 10 days Julio and I worked to save souls in this remote part of the world. That started a friendship that has lasted until now. I will never forget that the first contact we made together on the first day was a young lady who took us to her grass hut on a nearby Island where we taught her, her sister, mother, and brother. All 4 were baptized. Martina, the young lady remains faithful to this day in Bocas.
In 1982, I was asked to go to Panama with my family to live and work under Julio who had become the director of the Pan American Bible School (now The Bible School of the Americas). So on January 1st, 1983, my family and I moved from Arizona and I became Julio’s co-director. He and his family began to be good friends of ours. My oldest son went to Julio’s house and stayed overnight. Julio David, Julio’s son, came to our house.
Our first year was the most difficult. Within the first 6 months I had to start teaching classes in Spanish. I’m sure those early students got tired of the phrase “como se dicese” which means “how do you say”. Julio was vary patient with me. I can still here Julio exporting me when I would drive with him in the car “Take your time, brother”! If he ever got mad, I never saw it. But in a Bible study, you could almost feel his intenseness. He was focused and he knew his Bible. He was never unkind or sarcastic to anyone.
In the middle of our first year, division reared its ugly head. It was serious. One time we were drug to court as the other side tried to take our facilities away from us. He never lost his cool. He would look you in the face and smile and would dismantle you piece by piece by piece. I never saw him rattled or confused. That smile and gentle chuckle was always present in a serious way. If there was a living example of meekness, it was Julio Cruz. If you wanted a living definition of humility, it was Julio Cruz.
As quiet and humble as he was, he was a very forceful in the pulpit. It was taxing forhim, because he had lost one lung as young man that caused him would tire easily. Yet, he never complained, or quit until the job was done. One time when we were traveling in the States we roomed together. In the morning I asked him how he slept, and he replied, “Like a dead man, brother” and with that we tackled another day.
After 3 years living there, my family and I moved back to the States to help Bob from Stateside. I kept going down various times a year conducting campaign. I always picked Julio to join us on the teams. He would go being assigned to an elder or preacher. He was almost the last one in at noon and in the afternoon. If there was any idle time, you would find him having cornered an individual and studying the Bible.
In later years, his health began to have an debilitating affect on him, and his family protected him by limiting his travels.
Julio was a man of few words, but when he spoke, it was most profitable for you to listen.
This world was made a better place because of his being her on the earth.
I’m in the process of revitalizing my blog page. I am looking for anyone who knows how to work with WordPress blog pages. In the near future we will be getting the Bible School of the Americas on line, and we need train one of our staff people to keep it fresh and up to date.
We are entering into the time of year that is call the “season for giving”. It’s a time for families to get together and enjoy a time of thanksgiving and giving. The apostle Paul was saying his final instructions and goodby’s to the Ephesian elders. His very last words to them he quoted the Lord saying: “35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. (Acts 20:35-36 NKJV)”
Why not give a gift of “salvation” by giving a donation to LAM during this season of giving to further the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Latin America.