Testimony of Pastor Julio Chuta of San Juan del Obispo, Antigua, Guatemala
-As told to Dave Penner via interpreter Jose Labrador, May 2007.
I was about six years old when my Mother died. My father went to live with a different woman. This lady came to live with us when I was about six years old. During that time I was going to grammar school; in the second grade. They used to wake me up about three in the morning for me to go and bring home bundles of wood before 6 a.m. when I had to go to school.
Going to school, all the food they gave me was a couple of hard tortillas and a cup of coffee. The daughter of my father's lady companion had food to eat – meat and eggs while the food that I got was basically the tortillas and the coffee.
I went to school hungry, and on my way to school I used to steal oranges and bananas; I would exchange the oranges and bananas at school with other kids for beans and bread. After school my stepmother used to take me to the bushes to bring more wood, but her attempt was basically to punish me with the intention for me to leave the house and perhaps to die. When we used to come back from the mountain with the wood, I would become all purple and my head was bleeding from the punishment that I would get - she would hit me with a stick. And even though my father knew the condition that I was in from the lady, he would punish me and hit me with a wooden stick; to the extreme that once he broke my leg. He took me to the hospital and told me not to tell them how I broke the leg or he would force me to leave home. Because of my situation, I could not stand it anymore, and at the age of nine years old I ran away to Guatemala City.
I stayed in Guatemala City for 10 years. When I was 20 years, old I came back to Antigua, my home town. I met my now wife when I was 21 years old; we dated for about a year and then we got married. For the next four years I was a different person -I used to smoke and drink and was a different person from the person that I now am after I came to know of Jesus. There was a time when some people came to talk to me about God. They invited me to accept Jesus and invited me to come to their church whose name was Pentecostal Church. My heart was not ready to accept Jesus at that time.
Then I had an accident and went to jail. When I was in jail I remembered about the brothers who taught me about Jesus, and while in jail I received Jesus Christ. When I got out of jail I went to the church with the people that had shared the Word of God with me, and to this day I am sharing the Word of God. But after 10 months of being out of jail I got sick with seven different illnesses.
I was sick with multiple problems: liver problems, diabetes and some problems with my blood. I went to the doctor who said that I would live no more than 20 days. The doctor said that I needed to have surgery. Before I was sick I weighed about 200 pounds and now I was down to about 97 pounds. The doctors said that if I had any properties I should take care of those and put them in my wife's name because I was not going to last more than 20 days. In those days, my wife used to leave the Bible by my bedside. There was a time when my wife went to pray and I listened to her; it was in a good place - it was located next to the church that right now I am the pastor of.
Then I raised my leg; it was so thin that I realized I was pure bone. Seeing how bad I was, I started to cry. The words that Jesus Christ told the Father came to my mind. I repeated Jesus’ words to the Father saying “not my will, but thy will be done”. At that precise moment I made a promise to God; I told him, “Father I have done nothing for you. But if you let me live I promise you that I will preach the word of God without receiving any money back or any payment for it. But if it is not your will, as Paul would say it is better to be with you in heaven.”
At the time I just kneeled, asking God and crying, and I made an agreement with God. I made a promise to God that if He would let me live, I would preach without any monetary reward. At that time I had already been in bed for three months and in a grave situation. Nobody came to visit me and people ignored that I was sick.
I understood that my brothers’ hearts had become hard. Then when my wife came in I was crying. She asked me what had happened. And I told her that I was really happy because I was talking to God. Then afterwards, there were about 20 families that came to visit from the membership of the church.
Also the Pastor came in, and he asked, “Julio what is happening?” And then I told him about what the doctor had said, and that the doctor was not giving me more than 20 days to live. At that moment I gave my brother, the pastor, my testimony. I told him that when the doctor had told me about my situation that I had said that the one who has the last word is God. The pastor told me that “you are correct because God is going to cure you and you're going to be free of all the sickness.” The Pastor told me these words, “my brother Julio, God is telling you that you are in debt with God.” And my brother the pastor told me to talk in secret with God and tell him that I recognize my debt to Him. The pastor and the rest of the elders from the congregation prayed for me to God. And after we prayed the pastor gave me a hug and told me that I was free of the sickness.
The pastor told me to take tests again. That was on Thursday and then I went to see the doctor on Monday. The doctor was not happy and he asked me to come back for an appointment. The doctor read from the seven different envelopes for the results of the test. The doctor asked me what I had done because I had no more sickness according to the tests. The doctor was very surprised and in awe and told me that God really does miracles. That was the way that I was cured of my seven sicknesses. It was a miracle from God.
That was how I started with the ministry that God gave me to preach his word. It has been 30 years of fulfilling my promise to God. And that is how I continue to fulfill my promise to God; I do not take offerings because I promised God that I would not take any offerings. That is why our church has been prospering to the point that we have reached more than 100 families.
We grew so much that there was not any space in the church. There was a time when my son-in-law came to me with some news. His Grandfather was ready to sell a piece of land whose value was 216,000 Q . I told my son-in-law to tell his Grandfather that I would offer 60,000 Q for this piece of land. In a kind of joking way my son-in-law's Grandfather told my son-in-law to tell me that I was crazy.
But we do what the Bible says is impossible for man, for with God everything is possible. We believed the word that Jesus Christ said. We started to pray, and we stayed praying for about two months. We believed that that land was going to be for the church.
After two months of asking God, I received a call. I was told that if I had the 60,000 Q to go to his house and he would sell the land to me for the 60,000 Q. Then we opened up the box where we used to put the offering. We counted the money and we had 67,500 Q. When we went to my son-in-law's Grandfather, he was in disbelief. He never thought that I could have that kind of money. And when he saw that I really had the money, he just looked at me and got in his car and went away. But then we went to a table with a lawyer, and he then decided to sign the papers to sell the land.
And now we are building a brand-new church. Glory to God. We are building a new church with money from the offerings. When Brother Dave and Sisters Patricia and Deborah came to my church, I told them about my testimony and the story about how we bought the land for the church. After talking to them, they communicated the testimony to their Pastor in the United States. Glory to God. God bless them because they've been helping with God's work. Their Pastor in the United States authorized monetary help to buy the reinforcement for the structure of the church. They also sent money to buy wood and cement. And with the help that they've given us, the church is taking form. The church is in the last phases of being built. The only thing left to do is the flooring, the windows and the doors.
And that is how I've been fulfilling a promise to God. I have been preaching the Word of God for 30 years without receiving monetary reward. Even though the Brothers are not in agreement that I do not take the offerings, I cannot break the promise I made to God 30 years ago. I feel that I'm the happiest man in the land because God has allowed me to build two churches.