“He that oppresseth the poor, despiseth his Maker, but he that dealeth kindly with the good, honors God” (Proverbs 14:31).
Around 1974, Jacinto Pereira, then a young man 27 years of age, was invited to become a colporteur. Until that moment, he had never sold anything in his life, but he understood that the call to literature evangelism was divine, so he worked in several locations as a missionary of the printed page.
Near the end of 1975, young Jacinto arrived at the city that was chosen to be one of his fields of labor—Mozarlândia, in the State of Goiás.
It was a very rainy season. There was no way to work because of incessant precipitation. In the course of the day, there were two or three hours of dry weather available, during which Bro. Jacinto used to work in commercial or residential areas. When the rain resumed, he would return to a small hostel in the center of the city, where he had rented a room.
One afternoon, upon leaving for work, the young colporteur found a gentleman sitting near the door of the hostel, weeping. Brother Jacinto approached him and asked:
“Good afternoon, my good man. What's the matter? How can I help you?”
The gentleman explained that he had been working on a farm in the countryside for several months, and because of heavy rains, the boss had not been there for many, many days. Now this unfortunate man had contracted malaria, and the disease had progressed to an almost terminal stage. He was a stone’s throw from death. His colleagues, who worked on the farm, had taken him to the small hospital in the city, which was a private hospital. The clinic did not want to admit him, because he did not have the money to pay for the treatment. So, the companions left him in front of the hostel and returned to the farm. Finally, he sobbed:
“I’m going to die here! I have nowhere to go, and there is no one for me in this city!”
“No you won't!” declared Brother Jacinto. “I may not have a doctor here to look after you, but in heaven above, there is a God who heals everything!”
At that moment, the young colporteur took the man into the hostel and treated him. When malaria manifests itself, first comes a very strong heat spell (a symptom of high fever). The brother poured a cold shower over him over a basin of ice water. Then, when the cold spell arrived—as is characteristic of the disease—Brother Jacinto would give him a hot bath.
So, the days went by. Along with this shock treatment, Brother Jacinto took him off all solid food and began to, instead, give him juices of various types of vegetables. He toasted lemon peel, from which he ground a powder and gave to the man as an infusion with hot water. In addition, the man drank bitter teas throughout the day.
A few days later, the sufferer realized that the hot and cold spells were becoming less and less frequent until he felt nothing. After a few more days, he complained to Brother Jacinto:
“Look, I thank you very much for the treatments; these juices have helped me a lot. But I cannot take them anymore. I am very hungry; I need more substantial food.”
“How wonderful,” said our brother. “But I cannot give you solid food yet. You have spent many days without eating anything substantial. It may be dangerous to do so abruptly. Let’s reintroduce the food slowly.”
Then our brother began to prepare broths made with potatoes and other tubers, very thin on the first day. On the third day, he gave him mashed potatoes; so, in four or five days, that man was eating normally, without any more fevers or attacks.
The following week, the day he was to leave the boarding house, the man pulled a watch from his bag and handed it to our brother, saying,
“Dear Jacinto, I cannot afford to pay you for everything that I have received from you, but I would very much like to leave this watch; it’s all I have in this life. My gratitude is so great, but I know I can never repay it.
“No, I’ll never accept that!” answered our brother. “You will need this watch in the future. I did this from the heart, and I will not accept such a gift. What is your plan now, my good man?
“I have to go back to my hometown in the Northeast, but I have no means to do so.”
Brother Jacinto sought the owner of the boarding house, explained the situation, and together they gathered donations. Brother Jacinto got what the man needed to pay for the ticket and took him to the bus terminal. The man was pleased to board the bus that would take him back to his beloved family. But before he embarked, our missionary brother presented him with Spirit of Prophecy books compiled in Portuguese with themes such as O future decifrado [The Future Unveiled], O lar ideal [The Ideal Home], and other missionary materials containing the present truth. At the time of farewell, that gentleman said:
“I do not know if we’ll see each other again, but I promise you that if I find your church back home, I will join it because this church is what God left on this earth. No other person, however well-intentioned and sincere, could do for me what you did for me.”
Our brother, moved, replied:
“If we do not see each other again here on this earth, we will surely meet again in the heavenly mansions. Tell your family the wonders that the Lord God worked for you.”
After that man left the next day, some soldiers from the Military Police went to the hostel looking for Brother Jacinto. When they arrived, they asked the owner of the hostel:
“Is this where the young man who medicated and cured a man who was dying of malaria is staying?”
Our brother was very scared, thinking that he would be arrested for having cared for a patient without the authorization of the Medical Council. They explained in more detail the reason for their visit:
“Look, we have received orders from the sheriff to buy eight sets of these books that you sell: one for the sheriff and one for each of us. He wants you to come to the police station this afternoon for some instructions.”
When Jacinto appeared before the sheriff, he was informed that he would receive full support from the police in his work in that city. There was a loudspeaker in the central square which played music all day long. The sheriff pledged to pick up the microphone every afternoon and announce the name of our brother, asking all the families to receive him and buy the set of books.
Thereafter, Brother Jacinto never needed to canvass in that city. People came to meet him in the streets, in the alleyways, in the square, in the hostel, begging to place their order in time for the next delivery.
Brother Jacinto was preparing to marry at that time, and with the money raised on that wonderful occasion, he was able to buy all the furniture and arrange everything necessary to establish his new home with his future wife.
Here are some words from our brother, referring to his life in canvassing:
“I am grateful to God for having the privilege of participating in this great mission. I am sure that it was the Lord who called me to the canvassing work and accompanied me through all these experiences. Later, my wife worked with me canvassing after we got married. Then I sent my brother, José Henrique, to do canvassing. He eventually attended missionary school and today is a retired minister of the Gospel. My dear mother also began to canvass. She stopped only when the hand of death snatched her away. I am very grateful to God for this and other experiences.”