But for Joe Cannon
, man on fire was all too real.
Cannon, pastor of Oklahoma City, Crown Heights, was returning to the U.S. Border from Juarez, Mexico, when a man carrying a torch literally set another man on fire right next to Cannon's car.
and an El Paso pastor and his
wife were coming back from a church service at Mision Bautista Revolucion
in Juarez, and waiting in a line of cars four abreast about a mile from the border for a green light to move forward.
"It usually takes about three hours to get across the border," Cannon
explained, "so it's usually kind of boring sitting there waiting in line."
However, this night was anything but boring.
said there was a man waving and twirling a torch, trying to get the attention of those waiting in cars, presumably to get money from them for his
said the military police showed up and began chasing the torch bearer, who was running around, between and over cars to try to get away.
The light turned green and Cannon
said the last he
saw, the young man on fire had put out the fire, but smoke was still coming from him.
Cannon has been going to Mexico since 2003, and was instrumental in starting Mision Bautista Revolucion.
"I was pastor at Scipio Church in Pittsburg Association, when the association challenged us to send one person out of the country on a mission trip, "he said.
A professional baseball umpire, Cannon had served in the minor leagues in El Paso, and called the widow of one of his umpire partners to see if she knew of any mission opportunities across the border.
is Catholic, but said her
sister was Baptist, and she
would ask her
was put in touch with Leonard Gallegoes, pastor of Loma Terrace Church in El Paso, who said he
didn't know of anything, but would check around.
A few days after Cannon
talked with him, Gallegoes got a call from a man in Juarez who asked him to come and pray for his mother who was dying.
After the group returned to the United States, Gallegoes called Cannon
and told him there was property for sale just around the corner from Lupe's house.
Without prior notice, Cannon
church members about the opportunity, and an offering of $19,400 was taken.
The church put in the last $600 and the property, with three buildings on it, was purchased.
The next year when Cannon
and members of his
congregation went to Juarez, the church services were held in one of the buildings with open windows and doors.
During a three-night revival, 30 people were saved.
By the third year, Cannon
had moved to Crown Heights, and continued the annual mission trip.
That year, he
brought along a bubble swimming pool to use as a baptistry.
Eleven were baptized the first night.
The next year, 17 were baptized.
"There have been about 100 people saved since the mission started," Cannon
didn't make a trip to Juarez in 2008 because of the crime problem, but he
was convicted to go again this summer.
"I knew I couldn't leave them," he
said Crown Heights has been blessed the last few years by selling property across the street from the church.
"We took a tithe from the sale of the property to help Mission Bautista Revolucion build a new 40-by-60-foot building," he
"We're just a small church, but we've seen great things happen in this mission church.
hopes the next fire he
sees in Mexico is in the hearts of the people of Mission Bautista Revolucion, and not on the body of a man.