Gospel Fellowship Association Missions
By Jean Zartman

The Barber

While evangelizing door to door, Tom discovered a barbershop. Needing a haircut, he sat down in the chair of a friendly little barber, Juan.  Like most barbers, Juan liked to talk. After returning again and again, Tom discovered Juan also liked to drink. His ample barber shop, formerly a private residence, had a spacious patio in the back. His drinking buddies would gather there to drink with him, and they often prevailed upon him to provide the drinks.

Juan lived about a half-hour bus ride away. He had a wife and seven children, most of whom were married and living on their own. In the years that we knew him, two more married, leaving only one single daughter at home.


Through the years of getting his hair cut by Juan and suffering the strong smell of alcohol, Tom looked for opportunities to witness. Tom gave him Christian literature, Scripture-text calendars, as well as witnessing verbally to Juan. One day Tom told him, "Juan, what you need is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."

"I already did!" exclaimed Juan. Surprised, Tom asked when he had done so, and Juan recounted his prayer at home. Soon there was no doubt; Juan was a different man. His "drinking buddies" argued and complained, and one after another stopped visiting him. His clientele changed, and quite a few religious men began coming for his affordable haircuts, to invite him to their churches, or to argue theology with him.


Sunday was Juan's busiest day in the barbershop. He thought he could not afford to close that day, yet he wanted to attend church meetings. For some months he went with another family to an evening Bible study quite far from his barbershop and farther yet from his home. Juan would arrive home very late, and his wife objected. 

Someone challenged him to close his shop on Sunday and come to church, trusting the Lord to meet his need. It happened, sure enough! The Lord provided for Juan in abundance. Now that he was not drinking, he found he had money to put in a tile floor in his barber shop and make other improvements, also leaving his wife with plenty for the expenses of the home.

One day he decided that he would like to be baptized. Some of his family came to witness the event. The youngest daughter was quite nervous and concerned. She thought the dunking would be detrimental to her dad! 


About that time, we began a verse memorization program with the whole church. Some of us doubted Juan's ability to memorize 108 verses with both reference and the theme. He only had a fourth-grade education, after all. But Juan surprised everyone, working and reviewing continually to learn the two verses each week. Tom would stop by the shop weekly to help him memorize and took advantage every two weeks to get "la raya," a trim. Thus, according to a brother-in-law, Tom had the perfect situation for years—not only did he never look as though he had just had a haircut, but he never looked as though he needed one.

Juan always spoke slowly and clearly, but when he quoted verses, they took the longest time to come out of his mouth. We have a young fellow, quick to learn and still quicker to quote verses, sounding sort of like a machine gun. One Sunday Juan shocked us all by quoting a verse as quickly as that youngster!!


Having read the verse that a man's years are 70 and himself approaching that age, Juan decided to set his house in order, getting his properties properly registered in the name of his wife. About a year and a half later, Juan fell ill and died shortly thereafter. He left his widow well-cared-for—a testimony to family and clients of a totally changed life. We still miss him at church, three or so years later. He had always been the first to arrive on Sunday morning. Juan’s testimony is a highlight of our ministry in Mexico!