ORAL HISTORY EXCERPT
PADILLA: One of the things I remember about my childhood is that my father would move from one house to another in Bota[?], that is, would drag[?] the house somewhere else in the city so that we would be able to start a new church. So, he was an evangelist, and event... eventually he left tailoring to give himself fully to [pauses] evangelism. He worked with the... the HCJB, Voice of the Andes Hospital, for about ten years or so, as a chaplain. [pauses] And then until he died, years ago, he took time to evangelize, to visit people, and to [pauses] try to help people come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.
ERICKSEN: How did he go about starting a new church? do you recall that?
PADILLA: Yes, well, we were seven children, [pauses] four boys and three girls, and that was enough of a little group to start with a Sunday school class. And we would bring our friends, and he would invite the neighbors and have bible study, and that was the beginning of a new church.
ERICKSEN: Were there any particular [pauses] parts of the bible he liked to use as he began that work? [pauses] How did he approach the bible study?
PADILLA: Well, he was not a highly educated man, he had, I think, three years of primary school-- that was all. He read widely, that is another memory I have of him, [pauses] read on all kinds of things, and read his bible. Daily. For hours sometimes, even though he also had to work very, very hard. I remember waking up in the early hours of the morning, and my father would already be working, and would go to bed very late. But he would use the whole bible in his work, of course, especially [chuckles] the gospels, and the epistles. [pauses] In the environment in which he grew up, everybody had to be a Catholic, so he was a Roman Catholic before he became an Evangelical Christian, and as a result he was very anti-Roman Catholic also. [laughs] And I suppose that you could say that [pauses] as in the case of most Evangelical Christians in Latin America especially at that time, preaching against the Roman Catholic Church was a part of the message.
ERICKSEN: Is that what you were referring to when you said earlier that to be a Christian meant that you had to be a witness?
PADILLA: Yes, very much so. In Columbia at that time there was a lot of persecution against anybody who was not a Roman Catholic. So you really had to take a stand. [pauses] I was expelled from primary school when I was in the third grade because of not attending a Roman Catholic procession. And an older brother of mine, Washington, who later became the secretary of the bible society in Ecuador, was expelled from high school because of arguing with a priest.
[pauses] So, in Columbia you had to identify yourself as an Evangelical Christian, and if you did, you had to pay the consequences.
ERICKSEN: What other forms did the persecution take?
PADILLA: Well, a couple of times the... there was an attempt to burn our house down, later on many, many church buildings were burned down, pastors were killed, and Evangelicals, just Christians in general were persecuted, I [pauses] often times say that [pauses] I carry on my body the marks of persecution because even now I have signs of the stones I got when I was a child, a boy of [pauses] seven, eight, ten. It was very difficult [pauses] to be identified as an evangelical Christian.
ERICKSEN: How was it that... How was it that you continued to be a visible witness in the face of that?
PADILLA: Well. That grew out of our commitment to Jesus Christ, and our vital relationship with the local church. My father came to know the Lord in Ecuador with my mother, before they started having children, so all of us were born in an evangelical home, and to people at that time there was a clear cut decision [pauses] that meant leaving the Roman Catholic Church. As a matter of fact the story is that the first one in the family to come to know the Lord was an uncle of mine, Eddie Vuerto [sp?], who was also one of the first pastors in Ecuador. He came to know the Lord through the witness of missionaries from the U.S. And [pauses] a party he started witnessing to folks, they rejected him, and especially my mother who had grown in a very, very Roman Catholic home, and then finally he was able to persuade them to come to church for a service, [pauses] and my mother has often told us that right from the beginning she heard the message and that was it; she knew she was hearing the gospel, and committed herself immediately [pauses] to the Lord. And so there was deep conviction. Persecution, well, 'was a part of being of being a Christian. It was taken for granted. [pauses] I suppose that it is only in countries where [pauses] the difference between Christians and non-Christians often times is difficult to find, that you take it for granted that there is no need for.... I mean, there is no place for persecution. But in a situation such as that, well, it is taken for granted: persecution is a part of it.