Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

The Little Crocodile That Grew

Written by Pastor Ken Herfst
In mid June the heavy rains that mark the beginning of the rainy season finally fell. We had all begun to fear a repeat of the previous year: the ground was parched and dry. Those who had planted corn looked distressingly upon corn fields that resembled fields of onions. It was, therefore, a matter of great thanksgiving when the rains finally came.

Just before the rains came, something very strange took place a little ways upstream from the north-western border of the Cubulco area. Apparently, a crocodile had made its way into the River Chixoy and was killed after mauling an ox that had come to drink at the river's edge. It was a full-grown creature and lay decomposing in the shallow waters.

Gradually the news of the crocodile spread through the area, and as the story spread, it also grew. Now it should be noted that crocodiles are very rare in this area. Most people thought it was some kind of snake.

Soon the story began circulating that this creature spoke and said that it was because of it that the rains came. God had apparently sent lightning to kill it. With the lightning came the rains. But by now the creature had come to have a length of some 40 meters and only half of it died! It pleaded with the locals not to kill it, saying that if they killed it, another snake much longer would take its place.

Apparently, according to new reports, the army was called in. They put a chain link fence around the animal which now grew to no less than 60 meters in length and 7 meters in diameter! One unfortunate soldier was swallowed whole, so the army decided to kill it. Not knowing how, the President of the Republic of Guatemala personally called President Bill Clinton of the United States, who sent a team of specialists that advised using a certain type of bomb. After nine such bombs were thrown at the creature, it finally died. Scientists from the United States sent a huge tractor trailer to haul the creature away. The fact that there are no roads in the area doesn't seem to concern those who tell the story.

According to 'eyewitness reports' the creature had seven heads. Others said, "No, it only one head but seven horns." Others, who knew those who had gone to see it, insisted that it only had one horn--a gold one. Of course, the United States army was very eager to get their hands on this gold horn! And yes, it had gold teeth too. The most recent reports tell how that the creature has the number 666 on its forehead! Still others are sure that it is the devil himself.

Reports of this remarkable creature have circulated around the world. After all, didn't you read about it in your newspaper? In any event, most local folk are relieved that it is now dead. What would happen if it should come and visit at night?

This is more than just a humorous anecdote about local beliefs. Even many local evangelicals believed the various renditions of the story. The Bible does tell us of strange things happening at the end of the world, doesn't it? Before we throw too many stones, we should think of the Loch Ness monster or Big Foot in our civilized West!

The tragedy of the story is that while so many will gullibly swallow the story--heads, horns and all, they refuse to believe the Word of God; they refuse to acknowledge Him who says, "I am the Truth." Instead, they prefer to follow fables which are not even cunningly devised.

It is in the context of such superstition that we seek to bring the Word of God. It is an immense challenge. As gullible as the native people are in respect to local beliefs and superstitions, so suspicious they are in respect to the Gospel. Many promote the story that the gods are angry because I am working in the various aldeas and for this reason it no longer rains. Repeatedly, in an effort to hinder our work, stories are circulated, saying that we North Americans rob and eat children. Of late, this story has less publicity, but periodically it still comes up. Some remain sceptical as to our real purpose for being here. And, if you believe the story of the crocodile that grew, surely it isn't too hard to believe that some foreigner eat children, is it?

Nevertheless, we are confident of two things. God's Word will not return empty. As we sow the Word, we press on patiently and prayerfully, knowing that in God's time there will be a harvest. Furthermore, when by God's grace they know the truth, they will be set free (John 8:32): free from the superstitions that blind them, free from the fears that bind them; free to know and love and serve the living God.

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