King's Business - 1965-06

Son Virgilio and his sisters grew up in this Christian atmosphere. When Virgilio was eleven, his family was living in Mexico City. Attending a meeting where Dr. Harry Dunlap, a Presbyterian from Long Beach, preached through an in­ terpreter, Virgilio listened intently. This was what his father had be­ lieved and it had changed his life. He, too, would believe. When Dr. Dunlap gave a call for those who wished publicly to a ck n ow le d g e Christ as Saviour to come forward, Virgilio did so. Two years later, through the in­ fluence o f Miss Martha Moennich, he was led to consecrate his life to the Lord’s service. Miss Moennich was a Presbyterian missionary who felt led o f the Lord to go to different countries, holding deeper life meet­ ings for nationals and missionaries. Once after Miss Moennich had been held prisoner by some Nicara­ guan bandits in a situation which almost led to her death, a pastor asked her, “Why do you expose your life preaching in such difficult cli­ mates?” “ Because there are not enough men and the women have to do it,” she answered. Her reply sunk deep into Virgilio’s heart. He did not forget it. There­ fore, while his consecration did not occur at one of her meetings, it was due to her influence. The day came when, at a young people’s meeting, he decided, “ Lord, I’ll be a servant of Thine.” Immediately he told his father, and was encouraged to serve the Lord. He was only thirteen, but his father suggested, “ There is a little church at Mixquic that has no leadership. Why don’t you serve there?” Virgilio’s first reaction was “ I can’t,” but his father gave him bus fare and started him off. For two years he pastored the church. Each Sunday he traveled two hours by bus to the church which met in an adobe house. The people were happy to have a leader. He taught them all he knew, and studied to teach more. During the summer, he went to Mix­ quic and stayed, holding a Daily Va­ cation Bible School. It was a tremen­ dous responsibility for the teen-ager, but he was a steady-minded youth who accepted it cheerfully and ful­ filled it proficiently. After two years, a seminary student took over the church. Virgilio graduated fr om high school and planned to go to semi­ nary in Guatemala. It was a small missionary school for nationals and

many o f the students had not even finished grammar school. While he was at home preparing to go to school, a graduate from a Christian college in the United States stopped overnight at his home. He talked with enthusiasm about the fellow­ ship of a Christian school. Virgilio was enthralled at the idea, and again missionary influence came into his life. The college at which he wanted to enroll was full so his father wrote to Miss Moennich and she arranged for him to attend another Christian college. The six years in the United States were full years for Virgilio. He re­ ceived his BA in ’51 and his MA in ’53, met Beatrice Espinoza, a fourth- generation Christian who became his wife, and gradually changed the focus of his consecration. Each summer he took teams of stu­ dents to Guatemala to hold crusades. At each meeting he preached the Gospel but also his enthusiasm for Christian schools crept into his mes­ sages. People began saying to him, Mr. Zapata heads Christian school. “Why don’t you come back to Guate­ mala and start a Christian school?” He considered the idea. He knew that while Guatemala had a public school system, the schools were over­ crowded with from sixty to one hun­ dred pupils in a classroom. Too, at the high school level, the classes had Communistic and atheistic infiltra­ tion. Could this be what the Lord wanted him to do? He prayed, and recalled that Hudson Taylor had be­ gun the China Inland Mission — Overseas M is s io n a r y Fellowship with a copy of the Bible, prayer and twenty-five dollars. He had exactly those three things, so he put his twenty-five dollars into the bank, and told the Lord, “ I’m willing to begin where Hudson Taylor began.” After his graduation, he returned to Guatemala and began to organize the school. For a name, Zapata choose The Evangelical Schools of Central America, or TESCA. His days were filled with details . . . gov­ ernment requirements . . . a building

to rent . . . necessary teachers . . . churches to notify so they could tell parents to send students. Hopefully, Señor Zapata expected thirty stu­ dents, but one hundred and four reg­ istered . . . an indication of both the need and the Lord’s blessing. In nine years thé growth of the school had been phenomenal. Señor Zapata and his friends decided that the place to start was with junior high. At this age, the young people needed the definite Christian empha­ sis. The next natural step was senior high, then to back down through the grammar school grades to kindergar­ ten. That was still not enough. There were so many evangélicos who wanted a better education so they might serve the Lord, that TESCA opened an evening school, the only correspondence school in Central America and a teacher train­ ing college. The most unexpected development of TESCA was that of the publish­ ing house. Señor Zapata found it difficult to get proper textbooks. Teachers began writing their own. They were mimeographed, then as others wanted to buy copies, they were printed. TESCA now publishes fourteen textbooks which are used by themselves and other private and na­ tional schools throughout Guatemala. All in all, TESCA has a yearly budget o f $100,000, of which only 2 per cent is raised in the United States. The student body has grown from 104 to over 600 with an addi­ tional 150 registered in the corre­ spondence school. Undergirding all the activity is the desire to win and establish young people in Christ. TESCA has just started to grow. Because of the almost overwhelming need, Señor Zapata has come to the United States, a t t e n d in g Talbot Seminary and USC to earn his Ph.D. and also to interest fellow evangeli­ cals in TESCA. During its existence the school has paid more than $35,- 000 in rent for crowded buildings. Therefore, Señor Zapata and the na­ tional board want to build so the money will be released for expansion. Evangélicos in Central America see the value of TESCA. The Latin American world is education-minded. Those who follow other lines of thought have strong school pro­ grams. The Mohammedans tr a in thousands of young people to go as missionaries to conquer Africa for Mohammed. The Communists are bringing young people from Asia and Cuba behind the Iron Curtain to indoctrinate them. So TESCA insists: “ The Christian leaders of tomorrow need Christian training today.” 33

Mrs. Haskins is on the staff of World Vision. JUNE, 1965

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