John & Wanda Casias, as told by Dr. James Wilkins of New Testament Ministries
Across America the newspapers and television media reported "Tragic death of two missionaries in a little town in Mexico." But in heaven there was quite a different headline! It reported, John and Wanda Casias, two of God's most faithful saints safely arrived at home! Into the arms of Jesus!~Dr. James Wilkins
I have been asked to write a short essay about two of the greatest people I have ever known. John and Wanda Casias who seemed more like family than friends. In fact, the Casias' often referred to me as their father. Some of their children at one time or another called me, grandpa. I met John by virtue of the old fashioned watt line (telephone). I was in Indiana preaching when the phone rang in my motel room. The Voice said, "Is this Dr. Wilkins, Dr. James Wilkins? Boy, you are sure a hard man to run down. This is John Casias in Amarillo, TX." Thereafter, my phone would ring 3 or 4 times a week and it would be John. His questions were always about the Big Brother (New Convert Care) books, discipleship or soul-winning.
I learn that John at the age of 21 went into sales. By 25 he was the district manager over several states making in excess of $300,000 per year. His last job was as a salesman for a new car agency in Amarillo. Although he had owned several businesses he found that the could make as much money as a car salesman without all the problems that went with owing his own business. He had customers from three states, New Mexico, Oklahoma as well as Texas. His file box had cards of dozens of people from those states who were repeat customers.
He had a Catholic background when a friend led him to the Lord in personal work. He was politically a strong conservative and was active in local politics. Soon after his conversion he was baptized and become a member of the Central Baptist Church. It was at the funeral of a friend that his life was changed. The Pastor mentioned that this very good Christian friend was a member of the Big Brothers. John was shocked! How could a godly man like his friend be a part of the ungodly secular Big Brothers Organization. There had been a recent story in the newspaper about one of the secular Big Brothers molesting a young boy. John went straight to the widow with his question. She said, "Oh no, Bro John, its not that Big Brother. It's a book to train New Converts." With that she gave him a copy.
That was when the Phone calls began. John often stated that he was discipled over the telephone. He showed the book to his Pastor, Bro Bingham. He soon had permission to start a discipleship class in the church and order some books. I was invited to come to Central Baptist to preach and help start the Big Brother Program (New Convert Care Program). I was invited to stay in the Casias' home. It was here that I met Wanda. As I knocked on their door a very, attractive woman with a big smile opened the door. "So you are Dr. Wilkins! I have been dying to meet you. I'm reading one of your books right now." Wanda was a good mother, wife and gracious woman. Her modest home was well kept and she worked part time in real estate. I didn't know when she opened the door that day some almost 35 years ago what an important part she would play in my personal life. She was an exhorter and encourager. (More about her later)
John stated with about 6 to 8 in his Big Brother discipleship class. The church was only running about 45 to 50 in attendance. Only John, the pastor and another member or two went out visiting on their visitation program on Thursday nights. Under John's leadership twelve months later there were 45-50 in his class with the church attendance up around 150. There was 20 or 30 out visiting every Thursday night. But John had a problem, God had called him into fulltime ministry. I was surprised to get a phone call, not from John but Wanda one night. She said, "Dr. Wilkins, the next time your preach in this surrounding area will you call John and take him with you. He is driving me nuts! He's called to preach and knows it, and he is so hard to get along with." I told her that I had an invitation to preach at Temple Baptist Church in Tucumcari, New Mexico in the near future and would be a guest in their home soon.
John drove me to Tucumcari, and sure enough came forward and surrendered his life full to God at the close of the service. Wanda's mother also lived in Amarillo and was ill. Wanda had told John she would follow him when he went preaching any place in the world as long as it was near her mother in Amarillo. When we drove the 100 miles back to Amarillo after the service Wanda was waiting to inform John she had surrendered her life to the Lord and would go anywhere God should lead John. Monday MORNING john gave his COMPANY a 30 day notice and went full time for the lord. They sold their house in Amarillo and moved to the metro-plex. For the next year or so John put in full time assisting me in training people in the Big Brother Program. Before leaving Amarillo John had a jail ministry. One day he visited Cullen Davis a famous millionaire who was charged with murdering his wife. John led him to the Lord. Cullen lived in Fort Worth and was later influenced to join a larger charismatic church. The Church John was a member of was taking a mission trip to Mexico. Since John had no appointments that week he decided to go. What he saw, the poverty, the religious ignorance and the bondage to the Catholic church, it broke his heart. He recognized and surrendered to the call to go as a missionary before he had gotten back home.
He could not read or speak Spanish, but he was a very disciplined man who read four chapter in the Bible and prayed every morning before breakfast. He was up some morning at four A.M. That was a vow that he made to God. When he got to Mexico he read from the Spanish Bible, with the aid of a dictionary and concordance. It took him up to six hours to keep his promise to read four chapters and feed his inner man before having breakfast and feeding his outer man. After returning from the mission trip John instantly made plans to move to El Cercado, Mexico where he started the first and soon to be the mother church for 13 other churches over the next 35 years. His wife and family along with John lived in a poorly insulated mobile home which was just a little larger than a camper the first year of so. It is so hot there in the summer time that Wanda lost weight so much so that it almost took her life. Sean, their youngest son lived several months in our home in Arlington, Texas as he finished high school. John found the property in which their beautiful church facility is built. It was a little more than a city dump when he approached Cullen Davis for funds to buy it. I am not sure how much Mr. Davis helped but I know he helped some. John and family began to clear the lots and soon was having services out under a tree. Soon I was summoned to come and hold a meeting for two or three nights for John.
I was privileged and marveled as I saw John and Wanda labor to first clear the lots then built a tiny little building which was soon added to until they have one of the most beautiful facilities of any Baptist church anywhere in the world. With John and Wanda it was up in the morning , reading four chapters, then out to work on the building by 6:00 AM. Regardless of what the morning or day would bring they were in a home witnessing or disciplining several nights each week. Most of the time John took someone with him while Wanda did the same. In my opinion Wanda was as good or better at discipling that John. She was the best woman's disciplier that I have ever known. There are many mature women in the Lord in Mexico, that can testify to this.
John and Wanda reminded me of the man who found the pearl of great price. They sold all and forsook all earthy things to pursue eternal things. They had successfully pursued wealth and learned the secret of making a lot of money which didn't not satisfy the inner longing which God had placed in them. When John was saved and totally surrendered himself to learn to win souls in his daily life - then he found the tremendous joy of discipling others. He sold all he had and followed the Lord's call to win and disciple others to seek eternal riches. They were two of the most joyful people I ever knew - please - please - please dear reader consider the greatest lesson their lives declared. They, who had tasted what money could buy forsook it all in order to live in an out of the way dangerous place in Mexico and humbly and thankfully serve their Lord in seeking others eternal welfare.
Remember if you are one of John and Wanda's family members or one of their converts. Whatever you do will further their reward. One of John and Wanda's favorite scriptures was 1 Peter 5:10 which states: "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."
Across America and around the world many Christian's went to some place for a bite to eat and for fellowship. After church on that Sunday night John and Wanda were invited to come up and fellowship with Jesus. And you know, they are still fellowshipping!
For more information on the Big Brother (New Convert Care) books, discipleship, soul-winning or Dr. James Wilkins; please visit www.jameswilkins.org
P.O. Box 721284
San Diego, CA 92172
SPANISH / ESPAñOL
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