In a fertile valley, Rolando Talin sows hope.
Have you ever stepped out in faith, trusting God for something so much bigger than anything you could ever do on your own? Once the commitment is made, thoughts can crowd your mind and cause some stress.
That’s exactly where Rolando found himself. He couldn‘t sleep. Late-night silence echoed from the walls of his village home in San Blas Atempa in southern Mexico. The pastor/farmer tossed and turned.
What have I done? he thought. The inner voice blasted through the quiet of night.
Rolando had no money—none. Yet he had signed a contract earlier that day to purchase 30 acres of land just outside his village.
If I don‘t pay that money, I could go to jail … or worse.
Suddenly, another inner voice eclipsed his thoughts: Rolando, everything you see is Mine.
“Yes, Lord, I know it is Yours,“ he replied.
I want to give you that property. Because it is Mine, I will give it to you. Don‘t worry about the money. I will give it to you when you need it.
Rolando felt peace settle over the room. Now he could rest.
In San Blas, older boys commonly leave home. With little opportunity here, no one expects them to return. Rolando‘s parents were not Christian believers, but when he was 9 they allowed him to leave with a German missionary who took him to a boarding school in Veracruz. (Both of Rolando’s parents later came to Christ. Read his mother Caritina’s story.)
In the 19 years that followed, he got an education, traveled around the world, started a career in agricultural engineering … and found his faith.
He accepted Christ when he was 15. As his faith grew, so did his reputation. Wherever he went, people called him hermano—brother.
Before defying convention and moving back home to San Blas, Rolando lived and worked nearby in a coffee-growing mountain community for three years. When he visited his home village, he attended church with his family. But the services were conducted in Spanish, not Zapotec. People fell asleep because they didn‘t understand.
“Spanish is a business language,“ Rolando explains. “But if you want to speak of feelings or important things, you speak in Zapotec. That is the language of the heart.”
Rolando knew Spanish, English, and German, and he liked to read. He heard about a New Testament in Zapotec, translated and published in the 1970s by foreign missionaries. He found one and bought it.
Although Zapotec is his mother tongue, he had never read a word of it. So he set about learning it. He read his New Testament many times. With every reading, his passion deepened for the people of San Blas. Most men drank heavily. Fistfights and shootings were common. In desperate times, many villagers turned to traditional healers or idol worship. Many dozed through church, if they went at all.
They are missing the joy of knowing Christ, Rolando thought.
Passion for People to Know God
Rolando returned home 14 years ago with a passion to start a Zapotec-speaking church. He knew the desire for people to know God‘s Word in their mother tongue would soon follow.
“When you read Scripture in your own language, in your own heart, everything changes,“ he says.
In the meantime, he rented six acres outside of town and spent his days farming. The parcel of land sparked his imagination. What if this fertile soil not only supported sustainable, organic farming, but also could become a place where God‘s Word would take root in the people working it?
Because Zapotec people love working together, he brought friends and family to his plot. As they sowed corn, he told them New Testament stories in the Zapotec language.
When he was alone, he prayed.
Lord, this property is very close to my community. If you could give me these six acres …
Sometimes he looked across the valley beyond his rented parcel, taking in the entire 30-acre lot. Dreaming.
Lord, when will you give me my property? I don‘t want small, my Lord. I want big. I want to cultivate.
God’s Peace for the Financial Puzzle
Time passed. Then the landowner offered to sell the entire 30 acres for $100,000. Rolando couldn‘t even imagine such a large amount of money.
On the last day of the year, the landowner came to him.
“Nobody wants to buy that land,“ she said. “Why don‘t you buy it?“
“That amount? No way!“ Rolando said.
As they continued talking, she lowered the price to $65,000 and offered a financing plan.
“Do you have money?“ she asked.
“I don‘t have money,“ Rolando answered. “But my Father, he has money.”
“OK, if your father has money, of course he will help you,“ she said, not realizing which Father he was talking about.
Rolando signed the contract, which came with a temporary dose of insomnia. But after that fitful night ended with God‘s peace, the financial pieces started fitting together. Two of his brothers bought chunks of the land for $15,000 total. A friend in Germany sent $5,000. Rolando‘s coffee exporting business thrived, allowing him to kick in $25,000.
Finally, he spoke with a coffee exporter he‘d met recently. The man seemed taken with Rolando‘s vision for the property and the Zapotec people.
“Tomorrow you‘ll see some money in your account,“ he said. Rolando remembers hoping for a few hundred dollars.
The man gave $20,000.
In just 20 months, the land had been paid off.
“This is the power of God,“ Rolando says. “I have seen how God provides when you have nothing at all. But when it‘s his will, he will provide.”
Transformation for His Community
Today, as a Bible translator for the Zapotec Old Testament project, Rolando‘s greatest excitement comes from working in the community to bring transformation to Zapotec people.
He has a place for the church—and much more. He and his family live on the land he dreamed about, in a house built by his congregation, Iglesia Enda Nabani Cubi (New Life Church). Now he has another dream: for the church to grow from 150 to 2,000 members.
He also lends portions of the field to church members and teaches them to provide for themselves and their animals by cultivating corn.
In a place where people usually leave and don‘t come back, Rolando‘s favorite Bible story is the Prodigal Son. He especially likes the part where the father is so happy to see the son that he throws a big party.
“My Zapotec people are coming back to the Lord, coming back to their Father,“ he says. “And I want to be there when they do. The Word of God is the only thing that can transform my community.”
Watch Rolando’s video story:
Is there something God has asked you to do that requires you to trust him? Let Rolando’s story encourage you to step out and take action by faith today.