< BERYL GREEN | Pastor Julio Valdes
Pastor Julio Valdes, Panama
Pastor Julio went to to be with the Lord in 2011

In 2002, after Beryl’s death, Julio Valdes, a member of the Executive of the AG in Panama, visited
New Zealand to thank the New Zealand AG for Beryl’s work in Panama. During that visit Shirley Basket interviewed Julio. Shirley has kindly provided the transcript of that interview and we have summarized
the conversation in the the following notes.

Julio on Beryl.
Beryl was totally dedicated to the Lord. She told us that she had decided not to marry because she was dedicated to her work for the Lord. She had a laugh like a machine gun - if a machine gun was merry.

Beryl was strong but shy. She did not like to be in the public a lot. She didn’t like public speaking and was not a good preacher. But she worked one on one, was a great teacher and administrator. She started many Bible Schools, often in remote areas. In one place she started by teaching under a tree. The indigenous people were most open to the gospel. There was a lot of idolatory but Beryl did not worry about that, she just got on with her work of teaching the Bible. Her written spanish was very good, she was very bright. Her grammar was better than most locals but her phonetics were not so good so sometimes people did not understand her very well. This annoyed her.

Beryl poured herself into training pastors and so many, many churches were planted and grown as a result. She would give of her own money to help indigenous workers. She brought property for churches and helped raise the money to buy the building and land for the Bible School from New Zealand. She always said ‘God will provide’ and taught us that God was the provider.

She was different to the other missionaries and connected with the people much more than others. She went to places other missionaries would not go, she went to places where missionaries had been killed before. Even though she was a woman she often would travel alone to these dangerous places. She became like one of the local people. It was as if she became invisible to those who were shooting at others. She would drive for four days to Narrisa, the last large town between Panama and Columbia. Not many people would go there because it is very high, the land is harsh and people are afraid of the guerillas. She could handle going there any time. The Bible School she established is still there. Most of the indigenous people there were trained by Beryl. The people loved and respected her. Everyone in Panama respected her. They think of her as a ‘special missionary’.

Beryl was very simple, she didn’t worry about clothes. She wore the same dress for years. She would always try to get the best deals and bargains. She lived alone. She did not really like local food so she ate a lot of bananas and spaghetti. She did not really look after herself which is why she aged so much.

Beryl was very stubborn. Once she had made a decision nothing could change her mind. If people didn’t do what she wanted them to, or what she thought was best she let them know. One time one of the pastors at Bible school said he could not do it any more and would leave. Beryl grabbed him by the hair and sat him in a chair saying ‘ you sit there and you stay here!’. She was like a mother.
I was trained by Beryl, she taught me everything I know. I was the first graduate from her Bible School. I was one of Beryl’s boys - her sons. I was her favorite son. I always wanted to go with her on trips and spend time with her. I learned how to work from her. It was hard for me at the beginning - she went from place to place with no money. She instilled into us that God was the provider. Later when she got sick she wanted only me to take her to the doctor or hospital. I would hold her hand - to me she was my mother.
Beryl was very proud when I became the National Director of the the AG Bible Colleges and the National Secretary of the AG in Panama. I was her boss but she said that she was still my boss because I was her son.

One time Beryl rented a small plane and we went into the jungle. The AG had no churches in that area. We went to a tiny airport at a small town and then we went into the Jungle. I spoke in a jungle town about Jesus. The ladies wore colourful cloth skirts but nothing on top. Some were totally naked. They wanted to take us to another town called Pirawa by a small boat up a river filled with crocodiles that went deep in the jungle. We preached at Lechung, we prayed for a young man so that he could teach. Eighteen years later we went back to that town because we were told about a young man that was a Pastor there. It was the same man we prayed for. Three years after our original visit he left to go to Bible College. Then he came back as a Pastor and 90% of that jungle town are now christians.

Another time Beryl and I had travelled to a place and we were very tired from the trip. Beryl was in the room next to me and I could not sleep because she was screaming about the rates biting her. It turned out that the room was a store for rice which was why there were rats there. The rats were so big that the rats killed cats. Later she laughed about that experience. I went to work as a Pastor but Beryl stayed in that town with the rats, but she moved to another house.