Abundio Reyes is 76 years old, a farm laborer who came to the United States many years ago, a faithful member of the Medford Spanish Seventh-day Adventist church in Southern Oregon.
Abundio is single, 76 years old, an immigrant who speaks no English and has never attended school. A good farm worker. A Seventh-day Adventist who learned about God from an Adventist friend who taught him to read by studying a Spanish Bible.
“It’s been hard being a church member this year,” Abundio says. “The COVID made it so we couldn’t have services, and I do not have a way to Zoom the videos. But, I have studied and prayed much.”
On Tuesday, September 8 of this year, a small fire started near Abundio’s mobile home. With perfect timing, a 45 mph wind blew up from the southern mountains, fanning the fire like a blowtorch, its swirling flames consuming everything for 8 miles between Interstate 5 and Highway 99. That blaze, now known as the Alameda Fire, burned through the communities of Talent and Phoenix in short order.
Abundio lived in Talent, in a mobile home beside Highway 99. The fire took everything he owned – except the clothes he was wearing.
His mobile home? Gone.
His clothes? Gone.
His hat and jacket? Gone.
His medicines? Gone.
Church members immediately made a temporary home for him in the church, worked out his medications, brought him bags filled with necessities, and made sure he had a new jacket and more than enough to eat.
“Abundio was,” they said, “very sad.”
A couple days later they had found a small apartment that Abundio and a friend could stay in. That afternoon Abundio found Pastor Cuenca at the church and handed him a fat envelope.
“My tithes,” Abundio told Pastor Cuenca.
Inside the envelope was $920 dollars in crisp United States cash.
“I have not been able to come to church this year and so have been keeping my tithe in the bank waiting for when I could bring this money to the church. Is it OK to give this to you today?”
“Yes, I have lost everything and have many needs, but I read in the Bible where Jesus says we are to give to God what is His, and my tithe is His Holy Money. It is not mine.”
“Do not worry Pastor. I belong to God. He will take care of me.”