It was New Year's day when the drums and flutes began to play. Now, three days later, the drums continued to boom out their rhythms and the flutes kept on playing their short, shrill tunes over and over again. Men and women from a town high in the Andes Mountains had been dancing up and down the streets for all three days. They were so tired that they could hardly keep on dancing, but still they did not stop. Fear kept them dancing until the end of the third day. Sad to say, they thought that the drums, the flutes and the dances would drive away the evils spirits of the New Year. Most of the dancers had never heard of the wonderful love of God who forgives sinners when they receive the Lord Jesus as their Saviour. They did not know that God protects His own children, and that Jesus is stronger than evil spirits.
As they passed by the house many times with the same short, shrill tune and the continual beating of the drums, I wondered if the evil spirits had come closer to the poor dancers instead of going away.
"I used to dance in the streets like that," said Leona.
Leona? Dancing in the streets? It hardly seemed possible. Why, I had seen Leona giving out gospel papers in the streets, not dancing. She often came to ask if I had more of the papers. "I don't know how to read," she said, "but I know they tell about my Saviour." Another time when Leona visited us, she said, "It hurts to see the gospel papers thrown on the ground. Some do not want them."
Yes, Leona was different now from the dancers in the street. She had lived most of her life chewing coca leaves, dancing with the others, and living without any thought of God. If you had seen her only about two years before, you probably would have thought that the old Indian lady, wrinkled and stooped, had lived without God for too many years. How could she be saved now? But a loving, patient God knew that it was not too late. He sent a Christian to tell Leona about the Saviour, the Lord Jesus, who died on the cross and shed His blood to save sinners. She received the "Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world" (Galatians 1:3-4).
Now, Leona the dancer was saved by the grace of God. Although she was the oldest Indian at our Bible meetings, she was usually the first to arrive. How God had changed her life after so many years without Him!
"How old are you, sister Leona?" I asked.
Leona chuckled. "How old would I be?" she replied. "My parents told me when I was 16, but that was too many years ago. I can't remember now."
Another day I went to visit Leona in her home. It was a small hut made out of mud bricks. There was no window, just a door. She lived with her son and his seven children, and they were so poor that the children sometimes ate cornstalks.
"How are you getting along, sister Leona?" I asked.
"We're okay, but the venchukas won't let us sleep," she said. Venchukas are beetles that hide in the thatched roofs and come out at night to bite those who are sleeping. Leona's hut was so dark that they would come out even during the day if it were cloudy.
Finally we had to leave Leona's town in the mountains. We were sorry to leave our friends there. But one of the last things Leona said to us was: "My heart bothers me, but I have only One Doctor — He's in heaven! I have only One Saviour — in heaven!
Now we have learned that Leona also left that town in the mountains. She left her mud hut to go to live in a palace! She left this world to go to live forever with her Saviour. She was poor in this world, but now she is rich in heaven.
How will it be with you? Will you be rich in this world but poor in hell? God would like to welcome you to His happy home in heaven, but His doors are closed to one thing — the doors of heaven are closed to sin. Leona had many years of sins to be washed away, but the blood of Christ was able to remove them all. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).
Won't you come to the Lord Jesus for salvation like Leona did? If you do, God will welcome you someday into His home, not just as a visitor, but as one of His own children. "In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:2-3).
Leona will never again sleep in a mud hut where the venchukas bite, yet it is not just the wonderful home in heaven that makes her happy. No, even there on the street of gold with all the songs and beauty of heaven, Leona's joy is not in what is there, but rather in Who is there. The Lord Jesus, Himself, our Saviour, will be the great joy of heaven. Come with us there!
Copied with permission for WholesomeWords.org from Messages of God's Love. Story also in Hugo and the Condors... published by Bible Truth Publishers.