By Russ Turner
Philippians 1:21 - For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain!
Two equations...to live = Christ...to die = gain.
Américo Flaco proved this in his life. Before his conversion to Christ, he was a drunkard. He mistreated his wife. He wanted nothing to do with God. His wife, Felicita, had accepted Christ as her Savior, through the witness of a missionary. She prayed for her husband...she read the Bible to him...she invited him to church...but Américo wanted nothing to do with it!
One day while working in his "chacra"...his farm where he had planted plantain, bananas, and yucca...he was thinking about all his wife had told him about Jesus. He felt bad about his sins...he knew he needed to change his life. The conviction of the Holy Spirit came so strongly upon him, that he took his machete, cleaned out a small area, took off his dirty clothes, and lay prostrate on the ground. He repented of his sins, and asked Jesus to save him and change him, and promised to serve Him. There was an immediate change in Americo...no more drunken fights, no more wife-beating, no more cursing...he was a new creature in Christ! Sometime later, he became the "noko"...the chief of the village due to his upright testimony for Christ.
We were invited to his village, Laja Blanca, to preach the gospel and teach the Bible. We had great meetings there and pastors came from many other villages. After finishing a seminar, Lynn and I were returning in a canoe down the Chucunaque River to the port where our pickup was parked. Américo was running the boat motor in the rear of the canoe. Lynn was seated in the middle and I was up front watching out for logs and debris. As we came to a curve in the river, Américo slowed down to navigate the sharp turn. He looked at Lynn, but pointed at me. He shouted over the noise of the motor, "I AM HIS SON! I LEARN ALL THAT HE TEACHES US! THEN I GO TO OTHER VILLAGES ON THIS RIVER AND TEACH THEM ABOUT JESUS!"
Truly, for Americo...to live was Christ. And this past Saturday...to die was his gain!
Américo had been suffering with what we surmise to be stomach cancer for about three months...getting weaker and weaker. But on Saturday night, November 27, 2022, he passed into the presence of the Lord!
What a loss for us! He was my right-hand man! But what a gain for him! He is in the presence of his Savior Jesus Christ! And thankfully, I will see him again one day in heaven!